Tampa Mayor points 50 caliber machine guns at journalists

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Reporters who attended a military conference last week were shocked and outraged to hear comments made by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who joked about pointing twin 50 caliber machine guns at journalists and watching them “cry like little girls.”

Some reporters who attended the Special Operations Industry Conference immediately posted his comments to the Facebook page of Military Reporters & Editors, which represents about 300 journalists.

“Personally, I was appalled,” wrote freelance writer Susan Katz Keating, who was there for Buckhorn’s keynote address. The comment was especially upsetting for the journalist, because she did actually have guns pointed at her while covering unrest in Northern Ireland in 1988.

Buckhorn brushed off their comments, stating, “I think that is a silly reaction.”

Daily Beast national security reporter Kim Dozier was nearly killed in a 2006 car bombing in Iraq. “As someone who had been under fire once or twice, and lost two colleagues to a car bomb in Iraq that nearly killed me, I didn’t appreciate the remarks,” she said, adding, “The mayor probably didn’t realize how many of the reporters in the room had risked their lives to bring Americans the story of U.S. troops in the field, including veterans-turned-journalists with prior special ops service.”

Addressing a crowd of more than 1,000 commando and defense industry leaders, Buckhorn recalled his experience as a mock “hostage” during a demonstration of special ops rescue tactics. He said he especially enjoyed firing blanks from 50-caliber machine guns while aboard a Navy special warfare boat.

“And so the first place I point that gun is at the media,” he said, adding, “I’ve never seen grown men cry like little girls, for when that gun goes off those media folks just hit the deck like no one’s business. It’s great payback. I love it.”

His story was an exaggeration, as none of the reporters ducked or cried, and Buckhorn, whose father was a wire service reporter, actually has a very good relationship with the local press.

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