Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Los Angeles documentary filmmaker John Ziegler. His new movie is Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted. He was just recently arrested on the campus of USC for trying to give out copies of his documentary.
FP: John Ziegler,welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Ziegler: As always, thanks for let me spread the truth.
FP: We're so baffled here at Frontpage about what happened to you that I don't even know how to begin. I thought things like this only happen in Cuba or Iran. So let's just start at the beginning I guess. What happened to you last week on the campus of USC in Los Angeles?
Ziegler: Basically I was arrested and bullied for trying to educate people on how absurd it was that USC was giving Katie Couric a "journalism" award for her Sarah Palin interview. It’s a long story and I have written about it. I went there to give out copies of my film to people who were entering the award ceremony so they would know what a joke the award was. Ironically, I could not do so because while Katie was getting an award for her Sarah Palin interview, I couldn't give out mine because I was being manhandled while in handcuffs.
FP: But what exactly did you do that was illegal? Why is it not allowed to give out a film to people? Why exactly did you get arrested? For what violation?
Ziegler: Those are all questions I would like the answers to as well. What they told me kept changing and never made any sense. I honestly think the reality of the situation is that I was a marked man the moment I arrived because I had been publicly critical of the awards ceremony. I think they were told to take me down and were prepared for one thing and they got another.
FP: So obviously in no way was this some kind of stunt or you planning some kind of scene obviously, right?
Ziegler: Absolutely, this was not a stunt. I never expected or wanted this to happen at all. I was stunned, which is why I am laughing most of the time in the video. Also, I was indeed arrested. I was just not charged because the higher ups realized how bogus the arrest was. They said I could stay and get booked and have the two photographers who were following me (but who did not work for me) also get arrested and charged, or I could leave under threat of prosecution. I decided to leave because my only goal was to educate people coming into the ceremony and I knew I would not be able to do that. I did absolutely nothing remotely wrong here and I was clearly targeted because I had expressed a negative opinion about the ceremony in the media leading up to the event. This was classic prior restraint of free speech.
A lot of people mistakenly believe this was a trespassing issue and not a free speech issue. While USC is a "private" school, the campus is very "open" and they accept federal tax dollars.
FP: What is the significance of you being arrested in this manner? What does it mean in your view? What’s the media saying?
Ziegler: I believe that this was a scary moment for dissent and free speech. I obviously would not have been treated that way if I was there to educate people about how great the award for Couric was and did the exact same thing.
While the internet and talk radio is abuzz about this, the rest of the media has ignored the story because I am a conservative who is perceived as someone who tried to pull a stunt to promote a film. And that is not at all what happened.
FP: How do you personally feel right now about what happened to you? Are you going to do anything about it?
Ziegler: I am increasingly angry about what happened and I plan to pursue my rights to the full extent of the law. I think an important and dangerous line was crossed here and there must be some accountability for the sake of the freedom of all Americans.
FP: So Katie Couric does not deserve the Walter Cronkite Journalism Award?
Ziegler: Ah, that would be a big no. Anyone who sees my documentary and my interview with Sarah Palin knows that Couric deserved an award for that interview about as much as the congressional leadership deserves one for fiscal responsibility.
FP: So why did Couric get an award for the interview?
Ziegler: She obviously got the award as a reward for being seen as having slain the last threat to Obama's election. The guy who ran the event is a former Air America radio host.
FP: What do you think of Couric?
Ziegler: I think Katie Couric is a liberal lightweight who represents the reality that even "hard" news is now fluff.
FP: What do you think of Palin?
Ziegler: I think Sarah Palin is an incredibly talented and honorable person with enormous potential who was the victim of the worst display of agenda driven media destruction in our modern history.
FP: What are your plans in the near future?
Ziegler: I am continuing to screen "Media Malpractice" around the country and trying to spread the message and truth of the film. As for what happens after that, other than finally playing some golf again, I have no idea.
I get asked that question a lot because people seem to have high expectations for my next film. The problem is that one of the things that I learned in this process is that doing "conservative" documentaries may not be viable in the long run. After all, this is a great film on an incredibly important topic that has gotten more free publicity than any conservative documentary in history and right now I would describe it as a "ground rule double." If you hit the ball as well as you can with the wind blowing hard at your back and you still can't hit it out of the park, then there is probably a major problem.
Of course the problem for me personally is that I am now infamous enough to be unhirable in a "normal" job and not famous enough to make a living off of it. So I am kind of stuck. If you have any suggestions let me know.
I would love to keep doing these films but the deck is so stacked against a conservative filmmaker that I don't know if anyone can make it work.
FP: Well my friend, Frontpagemag.com is here for you. You’re a hero to us and we support you to keep up the fight. And readers of Frontpage, Media Malpractice is a superb documentary. BUY IT!!! Click here.