Al Jazeera Reporter Kicked Out of High School Football Game
Al Jazeera reporter Gabriel Elizondo is traveling the United States to interview people about the impact of 9/11 on their lives. He's spoken with locals in big cities and small towns, but recently discovered that the people of Booker, Texas are wary of anyone representing the primarily Arabic-language news outlet.
Elizondo described on his blog how he stopped by a Booker High School football game this past Friday in the hopes of securing interviews with students and fans. He bought a ticket and was welcomed by school principal Mrs. Yauck. However, Yauck's hospitality stopped as soon as she read Elizondo's Al Jazeera business card.
She then sought out the school district superintendent Michael Lee, who after muttering something to the effect of "I think it was damn rotten what they did," told Elizondo he could not film, take pictures or interview people at the game. When asked why, Lee merely said, "I just expect that you will respect it."
Elizondo left the game feeling "dejected and truly disappointed" that he could not tell a "nice little story about the town."
Lee later refuted parts of Elizondo's account via a post on the Booker schools website. He said he hadn't given Elizondo his full attention because his mind was occupied by two elementary school children who had not arrived home yet. He also wrote, "I would not have changed my mind about allowing you to just drop by and interview people and film our students. We did not have prior notice and we certainly did not have time to verify who you were."
Elizondo's had better luck with his assignment in California and Oklahoma, where he uncovered a Tulsa World newspaper report stating that the majority of bombs dropped in Afghanistan and Iraq were made in McAleser, Okla.
Elizondo continues his trek through the U.S., and is posting updates on his blog and twitter account.