Media conservatives rush to defend Wilson

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Conservative media have recently rushed to defend Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) by criticizing a resolution by House Democrats that formally reprimands Wilson for shouting "you lie" at President Obama during his recent address before Congress. Their defenses have ranged from claiming that the House resolution is a "stunt," to suggesting Democrats are engaging in hypocrisy by reprimanding Wilson, to echoing Republican National Committee (RNC) talking points that the House should also reprimand Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) for their previous statements and alleged actions.

Conservative media suggest Democratic double standard because they have accused Republicans of telling lies

Sean Hannity: Democrats called Bush a "liar" and were "never asked to apologize." On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said: "We were talking earlier about all the horrible things that Democrats said about President Bush. Harry Reid among them called the president a liar and a loser. He was given an opportunity on Meet the Press to apologize -- didn't do so. And now they're going after Joe Wilson, who did apologize, repeatedly." Later in the show, Hannity said: "Harry Reid called the president a loser in front of schoolchildren. He's called the president a liar. Kennedy called him a liar. Pelosi has used unbelievable language -- Kerry and Murtha. And the list goes on. Here's the -- it's the double standard here. Democrats are never asked to apologize, and I'm just sitting there saying, all right, Joe Wilson did the right thing. He wanted to apologize, and he did. The president rightly accepted it." [Hannity, 9/15/09]

Alex Castellanos: Democrats "should censure President Obama" for calling conservatives liars. On CNN's The Situation Room, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos said: "Hard to believe, but there's gambling in the casino, and politics in Washington. If they are going to censure someone for using the word 'lie' to demean their political opponents on the House floor, then clearly they should censure President Obama, who actually did it a few minutes before Joe Wilson right after he made an appeal to bipartisanship. So this is politics. It's not a good day." [The Situation Room, 9/15/09]

Conservative media repeat RNC talking point that if Wilson is reprimanded, so should Pelosi and Rangel

RNC press release: "Perhaps Democrats Should Spend More Time Demanding Apologies From Members Of Their Own Party." In a September 15 statement, RNC chairman Michael Steele asserted that Democrats should also reprimand Pelosi because she "attacked the intelligence committee" and Rangel because he allegedly "cheated on his taxes." From the statement:

In another stunning example of hypocrisy, congressional Democrats are wasting taxpayers' time and resources on a legislative measure to censure Congressman Joe Wilson so they don't have to talk about their exceedingly unpopular health care plan. Without question, Joe Wilson made a terrible error in judgment and has wasted no time in extending a personal apology to the president. The president has accepted his apology. If we are going to march Members down to the well of the house to apologize, Joe Wilson is going to have to get in line behind Nancy Pelosi, who attacked the intelligence community who protects us, Charlie Rangel who cheated on his taxes, Jack Murtha -- a walking scandal, and we all know how the Democratic leadership tried to protect William Jefferson. Democrats don't want an apology. They want a side show -- something to shift the focus away from their government-run experiment on health care.

Neil Cavuto: "[I]f they go after Congressman Wilson, might they then ... go after Charlie Rangel on alleged tax abuses?" Fox News' Neil Cavuto said: "But politics also is very famous for a little tit for tat. Are Republicans considering any action against Democratic leaders if they go after Congressman Wilson? Might they then, as I have heard others express, go after Charlie Rangel on alleged tax abuses and that he is not fit, given that, to be running the House Ways and Means Committee? In other words, do you see this escalate?" [Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/15/09]

Monica Crowley: "[T]here is no evenhandedness here" because no action was taken against Pelosi or Rangel. On Fox Business, Monica Crowley said: "This whole thing is absurd because there is no evenhandedness here. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, can tar the entire Central Intelligence Agency as a rogue body of liars, and she is OK. And Charlie Rangel, who writes the tax laws, is up to his eyeballs in all kinds of tax irregularities." [America's Nightly Scoreboard, 9/15/09]

Megyn Kelly cites Pelosi and Rangel to complain that "decorum in the House" is a "joke." Fox News' Megyn Kelly said: "You talk about the decorum of the House. And I think a lot of our viewers watch Nancy Pelosi stand outside of her House offices and say the CIA lies repeatedly to her. They see Charlie Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who is now in all sorts of tax trouble -- he pays his back taxes but faces no penalties? And Nancy Pelosi allows him to continue on as the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee? And they think decorum? What a joke." [America's Newsroom, 9/15/09]

New York Post's Charles Hurt: Democrats' actions "might rank up there as far worse." On Fox News' Studio B, New York Post D.C. bureau chief Charles Hurt said: "I mean, conduct unbecoming of a congressman, that doesn't -- you know, when you think about the things that Congress does and congressman do that drive us up the wall -- the crimes that they commit -- it's kind of hard to imagine that this is the one that rises to the level of, you know, of getting admonished over. You know, maybe putting the, you know, as the chairman of the tax writing committee, a guy that has trouble paying his own taxes or, I don't know, inflating the largest real estate bubble that leads to almost a second Great Depression. Those things might rank up there as far worse." [Studio B, 9/15/09]

Conservative media: Democrats' resolution is a "stunt" meant to distract from other issues

Charles Krauthammer: "It is obviously a Democratic stunt as a way to take attention away from the health care debate they are losing." On Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said: "Nonetheless, even besides the hypocrisy, he shouldn't have done it; he apologized. This is obviously a Democratic stunt as a way to take attention away from the health care debate they are losing. And every day that they don't have to speak about the specifics of a [health care] plan -- and the more it is examined, the more it loses support -- is a good day for the Democrats. So this was a good afternoon for the Democrats." [Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/15/09]

Kelly: "It's turning into a big circus now, and people aren't focusing on the issues." On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Kelly said: "I don't care about Wilson at all. I think what he did on the floor of the House was inappropriate, and he owed President Obama an apology, and he gave it to him. And then President Obama, to his credit, accepted it, and that should have been the end of the matter. The reason I care is because our lawmakers have a lot of important things to be dealing with right now. And instead of dealing with them, they've decided to take to the floor, engage in this back and forth, which is taking up the national media cycle for several days to talk about whether he needed to apologize to the people who were present for the comment. The target of the comment has already said 'apology accepted,' and when asked on 60 Minutes whether he thought this dust-up in the House today made sense, President Obama said, see, this is the problem it's turning into a big circus now, and people aren't focusing on the issues." [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/15/09]

Washington Examiner's Chris Stirewalt: House action "clearly seen as a negative that it was a distraction." On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, The Washington Examiner's Chris Stirewalt said: "I mean, sure, it's true that they have rules. I think the larger question is: Does this communicate the right message to the American voter? Does this do the right thing for the Democratically-led House that's struggling in the polls right now, that's having some trouble with their initiatives? Does talking about this move the ball? And I think that you saw by the speaker not participating in a very robust way and then limiting debate was clearly seen as a negative that it was a distraction." [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/15/09]

Conservative media: Democrats are wasting taxpayers' time and money

Bill O'Reilly: "[T]hey're wasting the taxpayers' time and money." On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly said that in introducing a motion to censure Wilson, Democrats are "wasting the taxpayers' time and money." [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/15/09]

Kelly: Democrats "spending time that we pay for -- the taxpayers pay for -- on the floor of the House to issue a disapproval resolution." On America's Newsroom, Kelly said: "Joe Wilson clearly was out of line, clearly lost his temper, and clearly owed President Obama an apology, and he did it. And the president says that's enough, and that this is becoming a circus. And yet people continue to push it -- people like Nancy Pelosi, who even herself that night came out and said, that's enough, let's focus on health care reform. But others in her party rallied and pushed for more, and now we have them spending time that we pay for -- the taxpayers pay for -- on the floor of the House to issue a disapproval resolution. Is this what the U.S. Congress should be focusing on right now?" [America's Newsroom, 9/15/09]

Eric Bolling: "How much more time and money can we possibly waste?" On Fox Business' Happy Hour, host Eric Bolling said: "We have the full House here debating whether or not Joe Wilson should be censured, a rebuke ... disapproval? I mean, how much more time and money can we possibly waste on something ridiculous? ... Barack Obama already said, I accept your apology. Move on already, guys. Why waste our time with this?" [Happy Hour, 9/15/09]

Transcripts

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: We were talking earlier about all the horrible things that Democrats said about President Bush. Harry Reid among them called the president a liar and a loser. He was given an opportunity on Meet the Press to apologize -- didn't do so. And now they're going after Joe Wilson, who did apologize, repeatedly, and as they did earlier today.

[...]

HANNITY: We have this resolution today. He said I've apologized, they've accepted it, and I'm moving on.

J.C. WATTS (former Republican congressman): Right. Right.

HANNITY: And he said he's not going to do what Nancy Pelosi wants. Harry Reid called the president a loser in front of schoolchildren. He's called the president a liar. Kennedy called him a liar. Pelosi has used unbelievable language --

WATTS: Right. Right.

HANNITY: -- Kerry and Murtha. And the list goes on.

WATTS: Right, and we know the ugliness -- that's right, yeah.

HANNITY: Here's the -- it's the double standard here. Democrats are never asked to apologize, and I'm just sitting there saying, all right, Joe Wilson did the right thing. He wanted to apologize, and he did.

WATTS: Right.

HANNITY: The president rightly accepted it.

From the September 15 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

CASTELLANOS: Hard to believe, but there's gambling in the casino, and politics in Washington. If they are going to censure someone for using the word "lie" to demean their political opponents on the House floor, then clearly they should censure President Obama, who actually did it a few minutes before Joe Wilson right after he made an appeal to bipartisanship. So this is politics. It's not a good day.

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Yeah, but he's already apologized to the president. But he has already apologized to the president, who said he accepts the apology, wanted to move on. They are not moving on.

REP. JOHN CARTER (R-TX): Yeah, he's -- twice, he has apologized; once when he called him and once in writing. So, he's apologized twice. It should -- we should move on. You know, health care is the issue. Health care is where we ought to be. That is what we ought to be discussing right now. It is a life-changing event. Why are we doing this? Who knows? Politics is funny.

CAVUTO: But politics also is very famous for a little tit for tat. Are Republicans considering any action against Democratic leaders if they go after Congressman Wilson? Might they then, as I have heard others express, go after Charlie Rangel on alleged tax abuses and that he is not fit, given that, to be running the House Ways and Means Committee? In other words, do you see this escalate?

From the September 15 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard:

CROWLEY: This whole thing is absurd because there is no evenhandedness here. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, can tar the entire Central Intelligence Agency as a rogue body of liars, and she is OK. And Charlie Rangel, who writes the tax laws, is up to his eyeballs --

DAVID ASMAN (host): Yeah, but it's where --

CROWLEY: -- in all kinds of tax irregularities.

DAVID ASMAN (host): -- it's where -- Tracy, it is where it happened. And even Joe Wilson admits that it happened in the wrong place.

TRACY BYRNES (Fox Business correspondent): But he apologized. It was just --

ASMAN: That's the point.

BYRNES: He did it already. And again --

CROWLEY: The president accepted it.

BYRNES: -- they booed the president in the same place.

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

KELLY: You talk about the decorum of the House. And I think a lot of our viewers watch Nancy Pelosi stand outside of her House offices and say the CIA lies repeatedly to her. They see Charlie Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who is now in all sorts of tax trouble -- he pays his back taxes but faces no penalties? And Nancy Pelosi allows him to continue on as the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee? And they think decorum? What a joke.

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' Studio B:

HURT: Yeah, but, you know, I mean, conduct unbecoming of a congressman, that doesn't -- you know, when you think about the things that Congress does and congressman do that drive us up the wall -- the crimes that they commit -- it's kind of hard to imagine that this is the one that rises to the level of, you know, of getting admonished over. You know, maybe putting the, you know, as the chairman of the tax writing committee, a guy that has trouble paying his own taxes or, I don't know, inflating the largest real estate bubble that leads to almost a second Great Depression. Those things might rank up there as --

SHEPARD SMITH (host): Oh, yeah.

HURT: -- far worse and deserving of censure.

SMITH: It's all politics, man. I mean, he spouted off at the mouth at the president; you know, he had a strong feeling. Then the leadership made him apologize. Then he sort of came back on his apology for his base. And then the other side is doing this for their base. It's all politics, isn't it?

From the September 15 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier:

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, he was out of order; it was a lack of decorum. He shouldn't have done it. I suspect if it had been a different Joe Wilson, the husband of the outed CIA agent who was a liberal hero and martyr in the previous administration, if he'd been in the House and he'd yelled, "You liar," to President Bush, the liberals would have carried him on their shoulders out of the hall as a hero speaking truth to power.

Nonetheless, even besides the hypocrisy, he shouldn't have done it; he apologized. This is obviously a Democratic stunt as a way to take attention away from the health care debate they are losing. And every day that they don't have to speak about the specifics of a plan -- and the more it is examined, the more it loses support -- is a good day for the Democrats. So this was a good afternoon for the Democrats.

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Tonight Democrats in the House are taking some revenge on Congressman Joe Wilson. They just voted 240 to 179 to issue a formal disapproval of the congressman for calling President Obama a liar last week, and Megyn Kelly is kind of upset about it. Here now is the attorney and Fox News anchor, along with attorney and Fox News analyst Lis Wiehl. Why do you care about Wilson, I mean, you know?

KELLY: I don't care about Wilson at all. I think what he did on the floor of the House was inappropriate, and he owed President Obama an apology, and he gave it to him. And then President Obama, to his credit, accepted it, and that should have been the end of the matter. The reason I care is because our lawmakers have a lot of important things to be dealing with right now. And instead of dealing with them, they've decided to take to the floor, engage in this back and forth, which is taking up the national media cycle --

O'REILLY: Yeah --

KELLY: -- for several days to talk --

O'REILLY: So it's a waste of time.

KELLY: -- about whether he needed to apologize to the people who were present for the comment. The target of the comment has already said "apology accepted," and when asked on 60 Minutes whether he thought this dust-up in the House today made sense, President Obama said, see, this is the problem it's turning into a big circus now, and people aren't focusing on the issues.

From the September 15 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

STIREWALT: Well, I mean, sure, it's true that they have rules. I think the larger question is: Does this communicate the right message to the American voter? Does this do the right thing for the Democratically-led House that's struggling in the polls right now, that's having some trouble with their initiatives? Does talking about this move the ball? And I think that you saw by the speaker not participating in a very robust way and then limiting debate was clearly seen as a negative that it was a distraction.

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: They're wasting -- they're wasting the taxpayers' time and money.

KELLY: Which they do -- that is what they do best, and they did more of it today.

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

KELLY: When Joe Wilson clearly was out of line, clearly lost his temper, and clearly owed President Obama an apology, and he did it. And the president says that's enough, and that this is becoming a circus. And yet people continue to push it -- people like Nancy Pelosi, who even herself that night came out and said, that's enough, let's focus on health care reform. But others in her party rallied and pushed for more, and now we have them spending time that we pay for -- the taxpayers pay for -- on the floor of the House to issue a disapproval resolution. Is this what the U.S. Congress should be focusing on right now?

From the September 15 edition of Fox Business' Happy Hour:

BOLLING: We have the full House here debating whether or not Joe Wilson should be censured, a rebuke -- what was it called? --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Disapproval?

BOLLING: -- disapproval.

ALAN COLMES (Fox News contributor): Yeah.

BOLLING: I mean, how much more time and money can we possibly waste on something ridiculous? This is --

COLMES: Aw, look at all the taxpayer dollars.

BOLLING: Barack Obama already said, I accept your apology. Move on already, guys. Why waste our time with this?

Posted In
Government, The House of Representatives, Health Care
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Fox News Channel, CNN, Fox Business
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