BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is under fire after banning a radio reporter from attending her weekly press briefings.
The last time Rawlings-Blake and local radio reporter Kenneth Burns met face-to-face it was an exchange of words.
It was October 5th when the mayor took issue with the questions Burns asked about Baltimore police and whether she had to go to the General Assembly to seek more control of the department.
“You’re not going to be able to explain it so I promise to commit and get you an answer for your question. I don’t have an answer for you,” said the mayor last week.
One week later, the mayor announced that the WYPR reporter will no longer be granted access to her weekly press briefing, which follows the city’s board of estimates meeting.
“Mr. Burns has consistently exhibited verbally and physically threatening behavior, particularly to my staff and we can’t tolerate that,” said the Rawlings-Blake.
On Wednesday, Burns, who’s cover City Hall for thew past three years, opens up to WJZ about what’s become the talk of Baltimore.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was trying to figure out what did I do,” Burns said.
The mayor claims Burns consistently exhibited physically and threatening behavior, but Burns says that’s not the case
The Society of Professional Journalists says the mayor’s decision is unacceptable, calling for her to show “evidence of any alleged threats rather than making vague allusions to violence”.
Burns says he just wants to get back to doing what he does be`st: asking the tough questions.
“Hopefully there’s some resolution to come from this, I just want to move on and not be the story but cover the story,” Burns said.
The mayor was not available for additional comment tonight.
She says Burns can still attend her public news conferences across city and public meetings at City Hall, but not welcomed at briefings she holds after the city’s Board of Estimates meetings on Wednesdays.
The mayor will leave office in December.