MSNBC Responds to Scuffle Between Chris Matthews' Producer and Hecklers
MSNBC has responded to allegations of a scuffle involving an MSNBC producer and two men who heckled host Chris Matthews Thursday night, a few blocks from the Republican National Convention.
"This story has been grossly exaggerated," MSNBC said in a statement. "A few disruptive men in the audience were asked to be respectful during a live broadcast. No one was hurt. There is no investigation and police were never involved."
The incident started as Matthews was hosting a show at a makeshift outdoor stage near the Tampa Bay Times Forum after Mitt Romney accepted the GOP presidential nomination. Two men shouted, "Hey Chris, how's that tingle up your leg?" during a break, referring to Matthews’ comment in 2008 that a Barack Obama speech sent a "thrill up his leg."
According to witnesses, a shoving match ensued when an MSNBC producer approached the two hecklers.
"Then this short dude who works for MSNBC pushed them," said Toby David, coming to the defense of the two hecklers. Another witness, Kim Churchman, added, "One of them was smiling and didn't know it was coming, and the guy just shoved him."
"He kept pushing them around, so I rolled over there," David continued, "And the MSNBC guy says, 'You wanna get in trouble too?’ I said: ‘Who are you? A cop? If not, maybe I should make a call and we'll see who's in trouble.' The MSNBC guy was just talking tough."
The MSNBC employee identified himself to The Hollywood Reporter as a producer but did not supply his name. A convention security officer said that MSNBC security told him that the two men "charged" at the producer. The officer did not disclose the name of the MSNBC producer and said an investigation was ongoing.