A news anchor at a CBS affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina, clutched handcuffs for no apparent reason during a segment on election polling last Tuesday.
Just before summarizing the close North Carolina election polling performed by nearby Elon University, WFMY News anchor Morgan Hightower put down a tablet she had been holding and picked up a pair of handcuffs.
“Now let’s get back to those new poll numbers that Elon released today,” Hightower said, visibly gripping the handcuffs. “They said not only will this presidential race be too close to call in our state, so will the race for governor and Senate.”
The camera next zoomed in on her hands holding the handcuffs, then cut away to feature graphics of the poll results.
Neither Hightower nor WFMY’s news director immediately responded to requests for comment about the meaning behind the gesture.
It is hard, however, not to associate Hightower’s use of handcuffs with the claims of Donald Trump’s campaign and its backers that Hillary Clinton belongs in prison for her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.
Whatever the intention of the gesture, it appears to be catching on in the Tar Heel State ― a crucial battleground in Tuesday’s general election.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, used handcuffs as a prop to attack Clinton on television two days after Hightower’s broadcast.
“Their candidate, if elected, could have these on Inauguration Day,” Woodhouse said as he held up the handcuffs.
UPDATE: Nov. 7 ― WFMY responded to HuffPost’s story in a statement posted to its website Sunday.
“In response to a Huffington Post article about our report, it appears social media has separated the words of our story from our pictures and the storytelling intent,” Larry Audas, president and general manager of WFMY, said in the statement. “Our story was not about — and made no reference to — any investigation, criminality or possible prosecution of either Presidential candidate. It was a story about the neck and neck closeness of the candidates in current polling — the prop meant to denote the discomfort of these bitter rivals locked side by side in the polls. We should have better explained, more so, used a better prop. We regret the confusion.”