A video of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer getting testy with KTVK-TV’s Dennis Welch after he asked about global warming has gone viral — “Where in the hell did that [question] come from?” she asked — but some of their exchange went unreported, according to a newspaper photographer who witnessed it. West Valley View’s Michael Clawson says Brewer hit Welch “not hard, but without enough force that he spun around to see what was going on.”
Clawson writes in an email to Romenesko readers:
Brewer walked out of the tent for a brief three-question press conference with maybe half a dozen reporters, including myself. The questions and answers went on without incident until …
Even after being told about “last question” from a Brewer handler, one of the reporters [Welch] asked another question: basically, do you believe that global warming is caused by man? He prefaced the question with a line about how the governor would be speaking at some kind of energy conference later in the week. After the question was asked, Brewer held a crude smile and just stared at the reporter. It seemed to last about three weeks, but was actually only about 5 seconds. I got the distinct impression she had no opinion on the matter, and she was formulating one in her head at that exact moment. After the long pause she bumbled through an answer, basically that she felt mankind and all our gas-guzzling devices have not caused global warming.
After her answer, a handler swooped in and whisked her away, but about three paces out she turned back around to face the reporter who asked the last question. He had turned to a camera operator and seemed to be putting his microphone away. Brewer took her left hand, balled it into a fist and with the back of her hand she slugged the reporter on the back of his right arm. Not hard, but with enough force that he spun around to see what was going on. She leaned in real close and looked up (she’s a shorter lady) and said in a whisper loud enough for most of us to hear, “Where the hell’d that come from?” I was there taking still pictures for a newspaper so I don’t have the exact dialogue, but he said he thought the question was appropriate. She was shaking her head, saying that the conference was about energy, not global warming, and she seemed to be perturbed that she would be asked her opinion about something. The reporter shrugged his shoulders and said again that he thought the question was fair. Brewer seemed upset, but as she walked away she cracked a smile, probably the same smile she gave Obama after the finger wag.
Anyway, it was funny and kinda surreal.
I forwarded Clawson’s email to Welch for comment. “I’d say this is a fair and accurate account,” he said.