Andrew Meyer on 'Today' show
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 7:03 a.m.
The once-silent Andrew Meyer is talking a blue streak now.
Meyer, the University of Florida student who was Tasered by police in September, gave his first lengthy Q&A to the todayshow.com Wednesday and he will give an "exclusive" live interview to the NBC program today, according to the show's Web site.
Meyer has also updated his own Web site, theandrewmeyer .com, with snippets about Taser use and politics.
In the online question-and-answer session with todayshow.com, Meyer espouses his political views and denies accusations that he intentionally provoked his arrest as part of an elaborate stunt.
"My arrest was absolutely not planned," Meyer said. "You would have to be a fool to intentionally get arrested to incur the cost of cleaning this mess legally - ask my lawyer, it wasn't cheap."
The "Today" show has been courting Meyer and his family since his Sept. 17 arrest made national news. According to a recorded jailhouse phone call between Meyer and his father, Joel Meyer, NBC paid for the family to be driven in a limo from South Florida to Gainesville.
The State Attorney's Office announced Tuesday that prosecutors had reached an agreement with Meyer, giving him 18 months probation in lieu of prosecution for disrupting a public event and resisting arrest.
Meyer's case drew national attention, and his notorious catch phrase "Don't Tase me, bro" was plastered on merchandise of all kinds. In his interview with todayshow.com, Meyer talked about the situation. "I have not profited from my catch phrase at all," he said. "The YouTube music videos and the ring tones and such, sometimes it amuses me, sometimes it saddens me. I think 'don't Tase me, bro' genuinely makes some people think about the growing threat to American rights. But I think most people are having a laugh, disregarding the seriousness of the situation. Thank you Jon Stewart."
In addition to several letters of apology he sent as a condition of his probation Tuesday, Meyer has also released a statement expressing regret about how he behaved at the forum with U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
During the forum, Meyer used vulgar language in his questioning of Kerry, and he was Tasered by police when he refused to be escorted from the University Auditorium.
"Because of the world we live in, the polarized environment in American that I have grown up in, I felt that being adamant and confrontational about my beliefs was the right way to effect change," he wrote. "I was wrong."
Meyer's statement and his apologies were posted on a newly launched Web site called meyercase.com. That site also links to his own formerly established Web site, theandrewmeyer.com, where Meyer has posted the first new writings since his arrest.
"I don't believe a Taser should have been used on me," Meyer wrote. "Tasers are portable, easy-to-use compliance devices. But more insidiously, they are now being used as a distraction from the more important issues."
Meyer wasn't the only one to speak out nationally Wednesday on the Tasering. Dennis Jett, the dean of UF's International Center who moderated the Kerry forum, published a column in the Christian Science Monitor criticizing media coverage of the incident. Under the headline "What YouTube Doesn't Show," Jett said that videos of the incident that appeared on the Internet didn't show how Meyer disrupted the speech before cameras started rolling.
Despite having incomplete and inaccurate information, pundits on both sides of the Meyer issue weighed in vigorously, Jett wrote.
"In an age of instantaneous communication, there seems to be a widespread expectation of equally rapid judgment," he wrote. "No one was lynched, but the virtual mob, fed by the media and a post-your-own-videos Web site, drew all the conclusions they needed for a verdict."
Jack Stripling can be reached at 352-374-5064 or Jack.Stripling@gvillesun.com.
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