The Hill is buzzing today over a weird incident yesterday in which Sen. Bill Frist’s (R-TN) Chief of Staff Eric Ueland flipped out at a young AP reporter, Jonathan Katz, who had the temerity to ask Frist whether it was true that he had no idea how much stock he owned before he sold it off just ahead of the stock’s precipitous decline.
Roll Call (sub.req.) fills us in on what happened next …
After the off-camera dugout ended, Ueland âberatedâ and âbulliedâ the AP reporter, according to other reporters, for initiating the line of questioning. Ueland accused Katz of not understanding the issue after having been repeatedly briefed on the HCA matter.
One reporter said Ueland was âdemeaning and rudeâ to the young AP journalist. Another veteran reporter said Ueland âwent over the lineâ in âdressing the guy downâ â in front of about 25 other reporters, no less. Yet another Senate reporter said, âIt was outrageous. [Ueland] was yelling at the kid. And Eric is usually a very calm and cool guy.â
Reporters who attended the dugout said Frist looked rattled over questions about the HCA deal, which remains the subject of dual federal investigations, and speculated that perhaps Ueland snapped because Frist doesnât have a good defense. They also noted that Frist has largely avoided cameras since the controversy broke and has moved his dugouts â when he holds them â into the Senate chamber, where cameras and tape recorders are prohibited.
âNow everyoneâs talking about it. … Now Iâm wondering if heâs gotten another subpoena. It makes me think thereâs something going on,â one veteran journalist said.
Were you a reporter there for this off-camera presser? Drop me a line and let me know what you saw.