A Washington, D.C.-based correspondent for NewsNation was arrested at an Ohio press conference Wednesday while doing a live-shot as the governor began to address the latest in the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals.
NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert was told by law enforcement to stop talking and was then pushed to the ground, cuffed, arrested and put in a patrol car. He was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, NewsNation reported.
The reason for the charges: He went live from the gymnasium at East Palestine Elementary School, just as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine began speaking, NewsNation photographer Preston Swigart said during the network’s continuing coverage of the incident.
“It’s just unfortunate timing… we happened to have a live shot scheduled at 5:15 pm, which, unfortunately, was the exact second when [the police] came to Evan that the Governor walked out and started talking. It literally happened within seconds of each other,” said Swigart. Lambert and his cameraman were at the back of the gymnasium when police approached him. The press conference was originally set for 3 p.m. but had been delayed several times.
Local law enforcement told Lambert he will be held overnight in the Columbiana County Jail, and won’t be released until 8:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, at the earliest.
After Lambert was taken into custody, DeWine insisted he hadn’t ordered the arrest and that reporters “have every right” to cover his press conference: “If someone was stopped from doing that, or told they could not do that, that was wrong. It was nothing that I authorized.” The governor was giving an update on evacuation orders.
As Lambert was being put into the police squad car, he told viewers, “It’s tough to do your job in America in 2023, but we’ll keep doing it.”
“Evan is safe and calm, and continues to act with professionalism and integrity that he brings to his work each day,” said Mike Viqueira, NewsNation’s Washington Bureau chief in a statement shared with TheWrap. “As you see from the videos, he was doing his job — what hundreds of journalists do without incident — reporting to the public on a matter of urgent, critical interest to our audience.”
Viqueria called the arrest a violation of the First Amendment, saying that the only disruption he saw during the press conference stream was “this altercation with the police — which apparently they have instigated… I did not hear anything of Evan’s voice when he was quietly speaking on live television. … As his boss, as his colleague, as a fellow journalist, it’s really infuriating.”