Sunday, January 07, 2024

When Pitiful Meets Detestable

Hey, NBC! How about giving Representative Elise Stefanik of New York a platform to make a speech so dishonest as to rival those of Donald Trump? Oh, you already did! (Even a conservative ex-New York congresswoman understands that.)

And it would make almost as much sense to broadcast, without challenge, an interview of a hostage by Hamas. On Meet the Press, Welker asked

In terms of what we're hearing today, former President Trump has referred to January 6th as a, quote, "beautiful day." Just this weekend, he referred to some of those who are serving time for having stormed the Capitol as, quote, "hostages." Do you still feel as though that day was tragic and that those who were responsible should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law?

Stefanik began by charging "as typical for NBC and the biased media." A responsible journalist would have challenged the congresswoman by either defending her employer or uncomfortably suggesting an equivalence on the right, the latter option something like "are you including Fox News and Newsmax as part of the "biased media?"

The congresswoman continued played one excerpt of my speech. I stand by my comments that I made on the House floor. I stood up for election integrity, and I challenged and objected to the certification of the state of Pennsylvania because of the unconstitutional overreach. So, I absolutely stand by my floor speech. I am proud to support President Trump.

Pennsylvania yes, Arizona- no. Not only did she vote on January 5 against certifying Arizona's electoral votes for Biden, two days earlier she has released a video in which she remarked "tens of millions of Americans are rightly concerned that the 2020 election featured unprecedented voting irregularities" and that they were properly concerned about "a fundamental lack of ballot integrity and ballot security."

In December, she had  joined in the amicus brief signed by 126 House Republicans in support of a lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general to overturn the election results in three states won by Biden.  In an open letter to her constituents on January 6, before the confrontation at the Capitol, she falsely claimed "more than 140,000 votes came from underage, deceased and otherwise unauthorized voters- in Fulton County alone." 

In her speech of January 6, Stefanik did condemn the violence of that day, then name-checked Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan in claiming that "the 2020 election featured unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges ignoring state election laws." 

Asked for a second time whether January 6 was "a tragic day," Stefanik began 

I have concerns about the treatment of January 6th hostages. I have concerns – we have a role in Congress of oversight over our treatments of prisoners. And I believe that we're seeing the weaponization of the federal government against not just President Trump, but we're seeing it against conservatives. We're seeing it against Catholics.

Hostages. Welker could have asked "what makes the defendants from the insurrection "hostages" and after Stefanik changed the subject or lied, corrected her and then cut the interview off. 

By one  estimate, approximately 230 Israelis and foreign nationals, some since killed, were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7.  They were not kidnapped for no reason. (Excuse the double negative.) No doubt Hamas wants something in return, probably far more than Israel simply ceasing hostilities. That's why they're called hostages. They're not prisoners, unlike the insurrectionists arrested at the Capitol who upon conviction for a serious offense are legally prisoners

Stefanik clearly was trying, even harder than usual, to curry favor with Donald Trump. By that point of the interview, Welker had already played a tape of the former President four times saying to "hostages" and had mentioned that Trump had  referred o the criminals serving time as "hostages."  The congresswoman could not more enthusiastically declare to Trump her availability as his running mate. (Well, there is one way but she hasn't done that. Yet.)  Subtly trying to equate the men and women storming the Capitol with the men, women, young people, and babies snatched from their homes by armed terrorists is a loathsome tactic by a loathsome person.

Also, this: Catholics?  Republicans have been trying for some time to gin up public outrage against Democrats by invoking some mythical bias the latter have against Catholics. We know from her reprehensible performance berating Claudine Gay in a committee hearing that Stefanik loves to play the ethnic card. But that's no reason not to shut down an interview when someone makes false accusations unrelated to the question asked or the conversation going on.

Meet the Press has been running for over 76 years, with 15 hosts or co-hosts along the way. It recently had declined, under Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, and the even worse David Gregory. But in the ten months preceding an important election in such tenuous times, NBC's signature news show deserves much better than Kristen Welker.  It's time to pull the plug on her.

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