Act and retract

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An encounter with Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan may have left a KTVI(TV) St. Louis reporter and photographer envious of the subtle, laid-back approach of Minnesota's Gov. Jesse Ventura, after Carnahan tried to cover the reporter's mike and camera, and his state police security guard shoved the broadcasters several feet away. The governor said he felt as if he'd been ambushed as he left his car.

But a videotape showed a routine approach by a reporter turned into a confrontation by the governor. Reporter Elliott Davis and photographer Larry Washington were at the airport on another story but decided to ask the governor questions when he drove up. Carnahan said last week that he had sent Davis and Washington letters expressing regret. He said he understood that it was the broadcasters' job to try to get an interview and said he was sorry if his remarks had cast them in an unfavorable light.

"I'm gratified that the administration did review the situation and concluded that we deserved an apology," said Elliott. "What bothered us was that he said we ambushed him and acted unprofessionally, when we gave the governor his space and acted professionally. We feel vindicated. But we still have not heard from the state police."

State police spokesman Capt. Chris Ricks said, "We have not apologized, nor do we intend to. We feel our officer acted properly and in no way injured, harmed or assaulted reporters. He merely escorted them off the tarmac after the governor indicated they would not get out of his way. I don't think the governor has contradicted anything I've said." Ricks added that Sgt. Elbert Marshall, the officer in question, had a reputation for being very easy-going. "He did not manhandle anyone."

Washington, who was balancing a 40-pound camera while being knocked into the wall of a hangar, has sought both medical attention and legal counsel for a back injury.