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/ October 18, 2008
NYU Employee Spits on 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist for Harassing Dan Rather

The panel discussion “The First Amendment, Freedom of the Press, and the Future of Journalism” got a little more interesting when an NYU facilities employee lashed out at conspiracy theorists questioning Dan Rather and Jill Abramson as they were leaving the event.

As reported on NYC the Blog andScooby doo the mystery begins”> Mazza FHS  the night began with the question “whether [Dan] Rather believes World Trade Center was taken down by bombs inside.” The conspiracy theorists followed Rather and Abramson out of the building after the panel discussion to continue questioning.

According to a NYU grad student, Aaron Howell, who was twittering at the event, “A NYU building facility guy got mad at the conspiracy guys for harassing the NY Times person so he spit in the dudes face/slapped his camera. Facility guy violated the poor conspiracy theorists I think NYU might be in trouble for that one.”

So far we have been unable to get confirmation on who the “facility guy” was and what consequences he may face, if any.

Rose Sculley, Director of Administration in the Journalism department, said that she hadn’t attended the event and didn’t know anything about the aforementioned situation. Updates to come.

Update: Gil Klein, the moderator of the panel, confirmed that the conspiracy theorists were “badgering” Dan Rather.

According to junior journalism major Adam Ballheim, “the moderator kept asking, ‘how does this relate to the panel,’ and the guy just talked over him so it came across like they were yelling.” Klein identifies the conspiracy theorists as “not lunatics, but definitely people who had an agenda and were trying to take advantage of the situation.”

Word is still out on the identity of the NYU facilities “guy”.

Update 2:

Brooke Kroeger, Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Journalism department, said today that the conspiracy theorists entered the elevator with her and Jill Abramson. She said she personally helped Abramson get into a cab, and that the conspiracy theorists were in fact being aggressive towards both women. According to Kroeger, facillities employees were extremely concerned about the well being of her and Abramson.

The panel was open to the public, and in Kroeger’s words, “it happens”.

The conspiracy theorists may be exercising their first amendment rights, but they certainly violated professional boundaries, at which point NYU affiliates stepped in to secure the safety of the panelists and NYU’s Journalism Chair.