Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday snapped at and asked to take a photo of a reporter who pressed him for answers regarding the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Jennie Taer approached Buttigieg while he was walking down the street with his husband and identified herself as a reporter.
Taer’s line of questioning focused on the Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio that leaked toxic chemicals into nearby soil and waterways and resulted in a controlled burn of vinyl Chloride.
Taer uploaded the 46-second interaction to her Twitter shortly after it occurred.
“I asked Secretary Buttigieg about the crisis in East Palestine and I guess he didn’t like that so he took a pic of me,” Taer tweeted. “Im just doing my job, sir.”
I asked Secretary Buttigieg about the crisis in East Palestine and I guess he didn’t like that so he took a pic of me. Im just doing my job, sir. @DailyCaller pic.twitter.com/HjKNgF25FJ
— Jennie Taer (@JennieSTaer) February 22, 2023
“What do you have to say to the folks in Ohio, East Palestine, who are suffering right now?” Taer asked Buttigieg.
Buttigieg refused to comment, instead directing Taer to refer to his quotes from interviews earlier in the day.
“I’d refer you to about a dozen interviews I’ve given today, and if you’d like to arrange a conversation, make sure to reach out to our press office,” Buttigieg said. “I’d like to have that conversation with you.”
“Do you have a message for them?” Taer asked again.
“I do and I shared that with the press many times today. I refer you to those comments,” the Transportation Secretary replied.
Taer asked if he would share that message with her, but Buttigieg again declined to comment because he was “taking some personal time.”
“No. I’m going to refer you to the comments I made to the press because right now I’m taking some personal time and I’m walking down the street,” Buttigieg said.
When asked whether he would be visiting East Palestine, Buttigieg told Taer, “I’ll share that when I’m ready and not talking on the street.”
“Can I get a photo of you?” Buttigieg asked before Taer’s video ended.
The video of the interaction prompted outrage among conservatives on social media, with some suspecting Buttigieg’s asked for Tear’s photo to keep her on a “list” of journalists critical of the Biden administration.
“Q: Why would Pete Buttigieg need to take a photo of a journalist asking questions about Ohio and just doing her job?” One user tweeted. “A: They’re making lists.”
Q: Why would Pete Buttigieg need to take a photo of a journalist asking questions about Ohio and just doing her job?
A: They’re making lists. https://t.co/zVd1FJ1xwn
— Jewels Jones (@JewelsJonesLive) February 22, 2023
“Why did the Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg need a picture of a member of our FREE press?” Fox News host Harris Faulkner asked. “Is he trying to be funny… or is something else at play here? Targeting? Journalists are allowed to speak with public officials who are in public.
Why did the Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg need a picture of a member of our FREE press? Is he trying to be funny… or is something else at play here? Targeting? Journalists are allowed to speak with public officials who are in public. #politereporter https://t.co/3fjYlEFkk3
— HARRISFAULKNER (@HARRISFAULKNER) February 22, 2023
Although Taer’s video has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, it has largely been ignored by the corporate press.
“This is how elitists who are made uncomfortable act out. Amazing how few members of the press are commenting on this,” Joe Concha tweeted.
This is how elitists who are made uncomfortable act out. Amazing how few members of the press are commenting on this. https://t.co/0rROITxhFM
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) February 22, 2023
On Wednesday, the Transportation Department announced that Buttigieg would visit East Palestine on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the train derailment.
Buttigieg was also criticized for waiting until nearly two weeks after the disaster to release a statement on it.
Buttigieg told ABC that there are “two kinds of people” who visit the scene of a disaster, “people who are there because they have a specific job to do and are there to get something done, and people who are there to look good and have their picture taken.”
Buttigieg’s remarks on his visit to East Palestine are seemingly a shot a former President Donald Trump, who visited the area on Wednesday and donated more than 14,000 water bottles, as Breitbart News reported.
Buttigieg’s Thursday appearance will mark the first visit to East Palestine from a Biden administration official, as President Joe Biden opted to travel abroad in support of Ukraine instead of visiting the residents of East Palestine, Ohio.
Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.