On the sidelines of two of President Obama’s events here at the U.N. in New York, there were some unusual happenings.
Obama met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, but there was quite a scene prior to the bilat when Chinese camera operators nearly started a fist fight with the Secret Service. It appeared that a group of Chinese press heard a Chinese official telling them to come forward and began trying to run through the US TV and still photographers in front of them.
“Stop, stop, stop!” yelled an agent.
One of the Chinese TV cameras apparently hit a Secret Service agent or NYPD officer in the face, and those who saw this first hand said it may have been intentional. It was a rather tense few minutes as agents and staff tried to get press to back up, and the some in the pool — again, it looked to be mostly Chinese cameras — would not back up. Things really only calmed down when the agents threatened to cancel the whole thing, and got some translation through to the Chinese.
A solution was only reached when one US journalist and one Chinese journalist went in together. The shoving spiked up again and there were harsh words exchanged between an American and Chinese.
Photographers with long track records of covering this sort of thing, going back to Gorbachev and Bush, said it ranked near the top of bad incidents but that there have been a few worse.
Later, as Obama was leaving a speech he gave to President Bill Clinton’s annual Global Initiative conference, myself and a few other journalists traveling with the president were near the tent that was housing his limo as he approached the vehicle.
All of a sudden, there was a loud convergence of police, secret service and other security personnel at the back of the tent housing the limo. The limo was still inside, and at least two dozen cops and agents converged on the corner of the tent closed to us, yelling and shouting fairly loudly, and then most of the crowd of security personnel moved away from the tent and up the street. It was not clear what happened. We are waiting to hear if the White House has any details on whether or not someone penetrated the security bubble, which is what appeared to have happened, although we cannot say for sure because we did not physically see them escorting someone out.
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times