Headbutt or head nudge? MoveOn gets a rise out of Rep. Young

Rep. Don Young in still image from MoveOn video

Alaska Congressman Don Young has been all over social media this week because activists from the liberal group MoveOn posted a video of him headbutting their camera. Host Casey Grove discussed it with Alaska Public Media Washington Correspondent Liz Ruskin.

LR: Headbutt? No, I’d say it was more of a head nudge … Throughout the minute-long video the MoveOn activist is asking the same question: “Is it okay for the president to pressure foreign governments to interfere in our elections?” Or some slight variation of that. You also heard (in the video) an aide telling the activists to contact Zack Brown, the congressman’s press aide. And that was it.

CG: It sounds like you’re not all that impressed.

LR: Well, in the range of Don Young behavior at the Capitol, and in Alaska … it hardly ranks with some of the others. Like when he twisted a young man’s arm who was trying to direct him to a different door. Or the time he shoved a reporter, a woman, because he was in a hurry to get into the House Chamber to vote on the Violence Against Women Act. And there were some incidents of rough and offensive language. So this incident just doesn’t seem all that much to me. He didn’t hurt anyone, and the activists went on filming.

CG: So more of a nudge, not even a real hard headbutt.

LR: Nah. He seems to be seething there, while he’s waiting for the elevator. He kind of throws his hands down. But after the nudge I’m pretty sure I saw him smile a little bit. It was perhaps not the most decorous thing he’s done but MoveOn is certainly making some hay with it.

CG: You had an interview with Congressman Young yesterday that you reported ended somewhat abruptly. Was that after the head-nudge incident? Was was he in a bad mood?

LR: Oh, he was in a bad mood. But the head nudge, according to MoveOn, was on Wednesday. My interview was the next day.

CG: All right, that would be Thursday. Today is Friday. So Liz, thanks for being here and have a good weekend.

LR: Oh, you too, Casey.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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