MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN ) – Columnist and author Eric Alterman has been released after being arrested Sunday night inside the debate spin room. He was charged with criminal trespass after police say he refused repeated orders to leave.
Goffstown, N.H. police said Alterman was in the spin room as a guest of the Creative Coalition and went to an area reserved for a private reception for WMUR-TV. Police said he was asked by an executive at the party if he was invited to the private area and was asked to leave. A police officer was called after a verbal altercation ensued. According to police, Alterman was asked seven times to leave and became increasingly loud as he refused. After ignoring a final request, police said he was handcuffed and taken from the building.
Alterman spoke with CNN after being released. He called the arrest a “misunderstanding” and claimed he did not refuse orders to leave.
He told CNN he was waiting in the spin room for the debate to end but there was no place to sit. He claimed he saw an area upstairs and was not stopped when he walked up there. He said he saw a bar area and asked if it was an open bar. Told that it was, he ordered a wine and a water. He then said he was approached by a man and asked if he was invited to the party. Alterman said he asked for the man’s name because he had been treated “brusquely”. He said the man declined to give his name and called for an officer.
Alterman said he “never raised his voice once” and identified himself as a journalist. When he asked for the police officer’s name, the office threatened to arrest him. Alterman said he asked for a supervising officer to come over and tried to explain the situation. He claims he was cut off and acknowledged he may have been argumentative when he said, "could I please finish a sentence here?”
He was booked and released after paying $30. Alterman said he will fight to get the charges dropped.
Alterman writes a column for “The Nation” and writes the “Altercation” blog for Media Matters. He also has authored several books, including
WhyWhen Presidents Lie.
– CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk