An African American CNN camerawoman was pelted with peanuts by two Republican National Convention attendees Aug. 28 who shouted, “This is how we feed the animals” as the woman, Patricia Carroll, handled a camera for live television coverage of the convention in Tampa.

The two men, who were not identified, were escorted out of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, site of the Republican presidential nominating convention, but not arrested by security officers after accosting Carroll, 34, according to Republican National Committee officials.

The incident was dismissed quickly by the network at the time it happened but triggered outrage on left-wing blogs the following morning while convention officials addressed the issue in a three-sentence statement Aug. 30.

“Two attendees exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct is inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated,” the RNC said in a statement issued several hours after the incident.

Although they were not identified, the two men were not delegates, the RNC said.

“I hate that it happened, but I’m not surprised at all,” Carroll told Richard Prince, editor of Journal-isms, a media blog devoted to journalists of color.

“This is Florida, and I’m from the Deep South,” she told Prince. “You come to places like this, you can count the Black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don’t think I should do.”

CNN confirmed the incident but did not identify Carroll as the victim. The only other network on-air mention of the matter came from Wolf Blitzer, anchor of CNN’s “The Situation Room” who labeled the incident “a truly shocking development” and said that “multiple witnesses observed this very ugly incident.”

“It’s an ugly element of hatred that still exists in this country,” Blitzer continued, describing his colleague Carroll as “a lovely, religious woman.”

National Association of Black Journalists President Gregory Lee echoed those sentiments. “It was an outrageous but isolated incident,” Lee said in a phone interview Aug. 30.

“In 2012, to see that kind of immature, irresponsible behavior, especially given how race is playing such a big role in this election, is unfortunate,” Lee said. “But it should be reported on extensively to expose the ignorance some people still have. It was not an embarrassing incident for the journalist, but for those who acted in such a manner.”


Maria Morales

Special to the AFRO