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The Arrest of the Story

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I watched a live segment yesterday on the always entertaining Cenk Uygur's show on MSNBC and to be honest the guy and his producers really deserve to be called out on a couple of things.

Uygur was interviewing Nicole Sandler, the South Florida radio host who managed to get arrested on Tuesday evening at a town hall meeting held by truly frightening Republican Rep. Allen West, and during his introduction he did something that was really misleading. He showed a clip of Sandler shouting a question at West -- what some considered a serious disruption but what didn't seem like a huge deal -- and following a very minor amount of resulting chaos, the video cut to images of a Fort Lauderdale cop putting Sandler's hands behind her back and cuffing her. Both the visual and the verbal implication from Uygur's voice-over made it crystal clear: Sandler shouted some questions at West and was arrested just a couple of seconds after and presumably for it.

Unfortunately, that's not what happened.

Sandler has posted the extended video over at her website and what it shows is that as the officer was escorting her out of the room she was giving him crap the entire way. Getting upset with a cop isn't generally an arrestable offense, but it is if you also don't do what that cop tells you to -- and that's what happened. He very calmly asked her to keep moving, she slowed down then stopped, stuck her finger in his face and yelled at him to get his hands off her and -- surprise, you're under arrest.

Now, did Nicole Sandler deserve to be escorted off the premises to begin with? Maybe not. Should Allen West be forced to answer for the unbelievable horseshit he spews? Absolutely. Is it a crime to shout questions at a congressman at a public town hall meeting? If it were the jails would've been filled with terrified and pissed off Republican old people a couple of summers ago. But you don't get to react with shock when you don't do what a police officer tells you to and he hauls you off to jail for it. You want to make a political statement and purposely get yourself arrested, that's one thing, but don't pretend that some great injustice has occurred -- and that you never saw it coming -- because you didn't follow a cop's instructions and he did his job.

Incidentally, Sandler's defiant act apparently didn't stop at the arrest. She said during the interview that she was maced in jail; when Uygur indignantly asked why, she essentially came right out and admitted that she argued with the officers, questioned everything they told her to do, wouldn't immediately follow their instructions. Again, is this a reason for someone to get maced? I can't say since I didn't see exactly what happened -- but throughout the entire interview I just kept shaking my head and remembering the Chris Rock bit about how you react when a cop tells you to do something: "Yes sir!" Jesus, even if you had made the conscious decision to really stick it to Allen West at his town meeting, consequences be damned, once you're actually in police custody and you've made your point you have nothing to gain by continuing to be antagonistic toward the police. Just who do you think has the upper hand in that test of wills?

Look, I swear I'm not really trying to beat up on Nicole Sandler; shouting down Allen West is an unarguably good thing if only because it will give everyone a couple of seconds in which they won't have to listen to him. I'm actually more pissed at Uygur's complete and borderline unethical disregard for the truth -- for knowingly twisting events so that it all became "blue meat" for his and his audience's firmly held biases. That's the kind of crap Fox News pulls all the time and it shouldn't be acceptable -- even once in a while -- from those who constantly criticize Fox for it.

Oh yeah, one more thing -- both Cenk Uygur and the lower-third onscreen graphic kept insisting that Sandler had gone to "prison." No, she didn't. She went to jail -- there's a difference.

If Uygur's going to actually be allowed to play pro ball rather than being relegated only to the farm league, he'd better start taking his game a hell of a lot more seriously.

Judge for Yourself:

Here's the story as presented on Uygur's show last night:

And here's the extended video: