For the most part, footage of two protesters who interrupted Ryan Lochte, his dancing partner Cheryl Burke, and Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron came from social media. Audience members and reporters on the scene snapped quick videos and images while ABC’s cameras were fixed on judge Carrie Ann Inaba, Lochte, Burke, and Bergeron — all of whom were either irritated or shocked at the interruption. Yet that all changed Tuesday morning when Good Morning America revealed new video of the incident, which DWTS producers scrambled to cover by going to commercial.
“It wasn’t really until I saw Carrie Ann’s expression change that I got the sense something more was going on and I turned and honestly, by the time I saw the two guys coming with their t-shirts, our security team had them sucking floor,” Bergeron told GMA. “So it all happened very quickly and then my main concern was how Ryan and Cheryl were and to try to get some control of the show so we could move forward once I knew that had been taken care of.”
Los Angeles police later revealed the identities of the two men, Barzeen Soroudi and Sam Sotoodeh. They “said they were protesting Lochte because of the incident in Rio de Janeiro during the Summer Olympics,” and that “they felt it endangered Americans.” So far, the LAPD has charged Soroudi and Sotoodeh with misdemeanor trespassing, though ABC News has no other details at this time.
Meanwhile, the incident sparked a great deal of sympathy for Lochte — both on the DWTS set and among the viewers at home. That, or at least the short protest’s viral spike was enough to garner the reality series “nearly a 25 percent surge in the key demographic,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.