Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg asked Daily Caller reporter Jannie Taer for a photo after she confronted him about the Ohio train derailment that occurred earlier this month.
Buttigieg has been criticized for his handling of the derailment which led to the controlled release of toxic chemicals per Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro — reportedly at the recommendation of Norfolk Southern.
“I asked Secretary Buttigieg about the crisis in East Palestine and I guess he didn’t like that so he took a pic of me,” Taer wrote.
“I’m just doing my job, sir.”
— Jennie Taer (@JennieSTaer) February 22, 2023
“What do you have to say to the folks in [East Palestine, Ohio] who are suffering right now?” Taer asked the Transportation Secretary as he walked with husband Chasten.
“I’d refer you to about a dozen interviews I’ve given today,” Buttigieg responded. “If you’d like to arrange a conversation … be sure to reach out to our press office.”
Buttigieg continued walking down the street as the Daily Caller reporter asked if the Transportation Secretary had a message for residents of East Palestine.
“I do, and I shared it with the press yesterday,” he responded. “I’d refer you to those comments.”
After Taer asked if Buttigieg wanted to share his comments with her, the Transportation Secretary reiterated he had provided comments for media earlier in the day.
“I’m gonna refer you to the comments I made to the press because right now, I’m taking some personal time and I’m walking down the street,” he rebutted.
“Are you going down there at all?” Taer asked.
Buttigieg hesitated before responding, “Yeah, I am,” though said he would announce his visit when he was “ready” when Taer pressed him about when he would visit the community.
“Can I get a photo of you?” Buttigieg asked Taer at the end of the video.
Twitter users criticized Buttigieg’s response and request for a photo.
“This is absolutely unacceptable. Every journalist and news host should take Pete Buttigieg to task for this attempted intimidation of a journalist,” said former Tennessee Congressional candidate Robby Starbuck. “Who holds him accountable and who ignores this will say a LOT about the state of the media.”
“Why does Buttigieg need a photo of the journalist for?” said contributing editor to The Spectator Stephen L. Miller.
Other users speculated Buttigieg may have requested Taer’s photo in an effort to intimidate the Daily Caller reporter.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson referred to the train derailment as a “failiure at all levels” and called for Buttigieg, DeWine, and Shapiro’s resignation for their response to the disaster.
“It had nothing to do with equity or climate change,” Carlson said of the chemical burn, noting East Palestine’s voting demographic favored former President Trump and suggested the Biden administration, therefore, didn’t “care” about affected citizens. “That is an atrocity.”
“The people whose indifference made it possible should lose their jobs beginning with Pete Buttigieg,” he said, “and extending to Governors Josh Shapiro and Mike DeWine. They didn’t care, and they got caught not caring.”