Donald Trump has waged all-out war on the media almost from the time he took office. Indeed, he has made it clear that he considers even mildly critical coverage to be “fake news.” Well, in keeping with the growing Trumpization of the GOP, at least one of Trump’s acolytes in Congress seems to be taking up this line.
You may recall that late last month, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney of New York caught hell for suggesting that most mass shooters “end up being Democrats” while speaking on a radio show in Albany. She tried to dig herself out of that hole by claiming that she just had a major beef with those who demonize conservatives whenever there’s a mass shooting. Politifact didn’t buy it, rating her remarks “Pants on Fire.”
That line may have worked in rural Mississippi or rural Texas. But Tenney represents a classic Yankee Republican district in central New York and the Southern Tier–Utica, Rome, Ithaca, Binghamton, and some surrounding rural territory. The Republicans here usually aren’t known for spewing diarrhea of the mouth.
As evidence, Tenney’s three predecessors all joined forces to blast her. Sherwood Boehlert, who held this seat from 1983 to 2007, called Tenney’s remarks “completely inappropriate and insensitive.” Mike Arcuri, who held this district from 2007 to 2011–one of only two Democrats to hold this seat in the last 117 years–called it “one of the most absurd comparisons I’ve ever heard.” He wondered–loudly–why anyone would even think it was acceptable to politicize “such a horrific incident.”
But perhaps the most pointed criticism came from Rich Hanna, who held the seat from 2011 to 2017. Hanna called Tenney’s remarks a classic case of how she “traffics in soft bigotry, hate and fear” while spewing “ridiculous and thoughtless things without any filter whatsoever.” He let it be known that he won’t even consider endorsing Tenney’s bid for a second term.
Tenney formally kicked off that bid on Monday with events at the Holiday Inn in Binghamton and a restaurant in her hometown of New Hartford, near Utica. Watch what happened when she chatted with reporters at the Binghamton kickoff.
Tenney claimed that she had committed to running a civil campaign–a laughable statement in light of her unhinged remarks about mass shooters being Democrats. She also decried the “drumbeat” of smears on the Republicans.
She claimed reporters and Democrats don’t want to know that mass shootings occur “across all sectors,” and that “everybody is guilty equally.” All she’s doing, she claimed, is trying to defend “people who don’t need to be attacked every single day.”
Really, Claudia? Then why did you even say that most mass shooters are Democrats? When a reporter asked Tenney that question, she responded in a way that would have done Trump proud.
“It’s fake news! I answered your question every which way. It is fake news.”
She then abruptly ended the interview, and could be heard grumbling, “It’s ridiculous.” Um, Claudia? They were merely quoting your own words at you. Somebody was being ridiculous–and it certainly wasn’t the reporters.
It’s tempting to give Tenney a pass for being on edge. After all, she not only faced 150 protesters, but also faces a very credible Democratic challenger in state assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. Indeed, Roll Call rates her as the seventh-most vulnerable Republican in the country.
But if Tenney thinks that calling her out on her nonsense is “fake news,” what does that say about her? Brindisi certainly wants to know.
— Anthony Brindisi (@ABrindisiNY) March 4, 2018
Trump won this district by a punishing 55-39 margin. But if Tenney thinks that this gives her a license to avoid being held accountable, she’s sadly mistaken. The people of this district deserve better. They deserve a congressman who won’t take it as an insult when reporters and the general public hold them to account. With Anthony Brindisi, they’ll get better. Send him some love here.
(featured image courtesy Tenney’s Facebook)