Congressman Bob Etheridge (D), who represents the second congressional district in North Carolina, was caught on tape losing his cool with someone videotaping him on the street.
The edited video was posted on a right-wing Web site affiliated with Andrew Breitbart.
In the video, a man, who says he is a student, asks Etheridge if he agrees with the "Obama Agenda." Etheridge becomes visibly annoyed and then appears to knock the camera out of the taper's hand, and grabs and holds his wrist while demanding to know who he was.
"I have a right to know who you are," Etheridge exclaimed. (While it is generally understood ethical protocol for journalists to identify themselves, there is no law stating that someone with a video camera has to identify themselves.)
Etheridge today released a statement apologizing and expressing "regret" for his "poor response":
"I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse."
Members of Congress have to understand that this in this environment in which anyone with a camera can post their videos to the Web in a matter of minutes. They need to understand they can't take the bait.