- WASHINGTON, D.C. — 16-year-old Andrew Demeter of Cleveland, Ohio does not yet have his driver's license, but he has
- managed to confront arguably the most influential politician in the nation: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Demeter was
- in D.C. this past month (April 27-29) for his award-winning entry "We The People, Genetically-Modified?" in C-SPAN's
- annual and national "StudentCam" documentary competition.
- Originally scheduled to shake the hands of both Senator Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner (in lieu of
- Leader Pelosi), Demeter purchased online a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution as a gift and token for Reid, as
- the Democrat had recently and controversially labeled Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters (who had protested
- federal agents reclaiming the alleged government farmland) "domestic terrorists" for, what Demeter says, "was simply an
- exercise of free speech".
- Much to his dismay, Demeter and the other top four winners of StudentCam were rescheduled to meet and greet Minority
- Leader Pelosi in the early afternoon of April 29. "I didn't want this opportunity to go to waste," Demeter remembers,
- "even if it required stepping outside my comfort zone."
- "Washington, D.C. is flipped upside-down, inside-out," the teen theorizes, "You have to remove your belt, shoes, and
- jacket before entering the Capitol because you're supposedly a criminal; guilty until proven innocent. Truth be told,
- the real criminals conspire against the American public from inside the Capitol itself." An outspoken critic of
- "unconstitutional" security measures at airport and government properties alike, Demeter highlights, "After emptying my
- pockets and walking through a metal detector, a security agent questioned me as I looped on my belt with one hand and
- held what would've been my present for Reid in the other, 'What is that?' she asked. 'The Constitution,' I replied. How
- The youth activist then anxiously stood with Leader Pelosi's rushed legislative assistant while the remaining StudentCam
- contestants were granted security clearance. Demeter visualizes, "The group of a dozen or so of us [parents and C-SPAN
- employees included] ran down a series of corridors until we arrived at the door of Pelosi's office."
- Pelosi eventually arrived, welcoming each entrant with a handshake and, in the words of Demeter, a "superficial" smile.
- "As Donald [De Alwis] was speaking with Pelosi about his film on water pollution," Demeter says, "I slid my phone out of
- my suit pocket and began recording. Only once I posed my question to Pelosi did I overtly display my phone and capture
- her reaction of pure confusion."
- As audible in the clip of Demeter's confrontation, he asks the Democratic Leader, "Why do you support the NSA's
- [National Security Agency] illegal and ubiquitous data collection?". Pelosi, visibly shocked and stumbling with her
- words, seemingly evades Demeter's question and proceeds to diffuse responsibility of NSA programs from the democratic
- Obama Administration to the republican Bush Administration. Demeter believes, "It is, at minimum, hypocritical and, at
- maximum, disillusionment with the two-party system for Pelosi to support the NSA's bulk data collection and yet still
- criticize its precursor: the post-9/11 Patriot Act."
- Despite the attempt of one of Pelosi's legislative aides to cut him off mid-sentence, Demeter continues, "I asked,
- 'Isn't the NSA a violation of the Fourth Amendment?'. So quickly, almost instinctively, she [Pelosi] said 'No'." Demeter
- attributes this detachment from the Supreme Law of the Land to Pelosi's "hyper-inflated ego" and explains, "She thinks
- and talks as though she is above the law, above the Constitution. I understand why, though. When I was eating breakfast
- one morning during the trip -- at The Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, coincidentally two blocks from the Capitol -- I went
- to pour myself a glass of water from a pitcher on the table, but -- before I could -- the waiter ran from across the
- restaurant to the table, grabbed the pitcher from my hands, and poured the water for me. I was almost offended,
- Though, Demeter says he learned more after the encounter with Pelosi than he did during.
- "Immediately after leaving the Capitol, a certain, to-be-unnamed entity from C-SPAN -- who had witnessed firsthand the
- exchange of dialogue between Pelosi and myself -- remarked, 'I saw you recording with your phone. Were you planning on
- posting that to YouTube?'. Unknowing at the time that my phone had only recorded the first half of the confrontation --
- and then stopped filming due to insufficient storage space -- I tersely responded, 'Why does it matter?'." Demeter was
- then shocked by the answer he was given. "The individual said something like, 'We wouldn't want to damage C-SPAN's
- relationship with Leader Pelosi and/or her office.'"
- Following a lunch at Union Station spent desperately attempting to recover from his phone the full-length clip of his
- hard-hitting question to Pelosi, Demeter walked a few blocks back to C-SPAN (where he had been interviewed the day
- before) before flying home to Cleveland. "When the elevator dinged at the third floor -- C-SPAN's floor --," Demeter
- reminisces with a subtle grin, "the doors opened, my father and I walked out, and we were spontaneously welcomed with
- the warm smile and firm handshake of Brian Lamb, the founder of C-SPAN." According to Demeter, Lamb had already received
- news of the journalistic feat from one of his employees, subsequently congratulating and encouraging Demeter; a response
- much unlike the employee who had earlier questioned Demeter's motives.
- But, "the plot thickens," Demeter claims.
- "I returned home very late Tuesday night, but I wouldn't unpack -- or sleep, for that matter -- until I e-mailed C-SPAN.
- My footage may have been compromised, but C-SPAN's wasn't," Demeter chuckles. "After tactfully writing an e-mail to a C-
- SPAN employee to respectfully request footage of the Pelosi confrontation, I went to bed. The following afternoon, I
- received a reply…but not from the C-SPAN employee I had e-mailed and, instead, from the very entity who had virtually
- intimidated me into not posting online the footage of Pelosi humiliating herself." E-mail traffic between Demeter and
- the anonymous C-SPAN employee reveals the following:
- DEMETER: Could you please send me the contact info of the cameraman who filmed the b-roll shots during our trip to the
- C-SPAN: <REDACTED> is the gentleman who recorded the event, and I have copied him on this email. I will relay however
- that our agreement for the meet and greet with House Dem. Leader Pelosi was for photographs and b-roll only (no audio
- recording). While <REDACTED> did have a mic attached to his camera, per our agreement, the audio would not be able to be
- used. It was an omission on my part not to relay that to you...
- DEMETER: With all due respect, I would view C-SPAN's unwillingness to kindly provide me the aforementioned clip as a
- conflict of the network's philosophy of neutrality and unbiasedness. StudentCam, after all, emphasized the cruciality of
- broadcasting both sides of the story and not censoring one side or any other in order to fit a particular agenda.
- C-SPAN: I’ll be happy to provide you with the video, but -- just to clarify -- my concern did not stem from any bias.
- "Persistence is sacrosanct," Demeter reinforces. As for the video itself, the politically-active teen concludes, "After
- viewing the clip for the first time, my mother said, 'I hope you live to be eighteen.'". The aspiring
- reporter/journalist, still optimistic, advises Americans, "If I -- a shy, socially inept high-school student -- can
- expose on a global scale the paradox that is politics, by asking nothing more than a question, then so too can you."
Teen Confronts @NancyPelosi on #NSA
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