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Post and Courier reporter claims assault by Katie Arrington supporter on election night

The Post and Courier, Columbus Street, Charleston, SC (Google Earth).jpg
The Post and Courier, Columbus Street, Charleston, SC (Google Earth).jpg

A Charleston, South Carolina journalist says she was assaulted by a supporter of Republican Congressional candidate Katie Arrington while covering Arrington on election night.

Caitlin Byrd, a politics reporter for The Post and Courier, told Mount Pleasant Police a 70-year-old woman approached her from behind, pinched her, and told her to "have some respect," then walked back to her seat halfway across the event room at Mount Pleasant's Staybridge Suites.

Byrd told police the pinch happened as she knelt in the back of the room, taking notes on the happenings at Arrington's watch party. An Arrington staffer was leading the room in prayer at the time.

But police say Byrd told them she felt the encounter was not about timing, being during a prayer; rather, Byrd told police she felt it was in response to "fake news" rhetoric and criticism of The Post and Courier by an Arrington campaign staff member who was emceeing the event.

The emcee had earlier in the night asked if any reporters from The Post and Courier were in the room, then accused the paper of being negatively biased against Arrington in its coverage. The Post and Courier's editorial board endorsed Arrington's opponent, Joe Cunningham (D), prior to the election.

Cunningham defeated Arrington to become the first Democrat elected to represent the Charleston area in Congress since the early 1980s.

After Tuesday night's event, Byrd says the woman came back over to her and confronted her again, this time only verbally.

ABC News 4 reporter Anne Emerson witnessed the event emcee's criticism of the newspaper earlier in the night, as well as the assault suspect confronting Byrd at the end of the event. Emerson did not witness the woman pinch Byrd.

Byrd told police she didn't want to press charges against the woman, only to document the incident.

Michael Mule, Arrington's campaign manager, said Friday when contacted about the incident he had not previously heard about it, and had no comment until an investigation is completed.

ABC News 4 has spoken to The Post and Courier. The newspaper has not made a statement about the incident at this time.