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Martha MacCallum Goes To Bat For Rep. Allen West Over Shocking Email To Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Reported by Ellen - July 21, 2011 -

In case you missed it – what with all the focus on Rupert Murdoch and phone hacking lately – Florida Republican Congressman Allen West is having quite the tiff with Florida Democratic Congresswoman and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The culmination was a shocking email from West to Wasserman Schultz in which he called her “vile, unprofessional and despicable” and told her to “shut the heck up.” Among other things. Had a Democrat said such a thing, there’s no doubt Fox would be talking about how he or she wants to “stifle debate,” or the network would be attacking other Democrats for not distancing themselves or worrying about “the tone” being set. But with West, “objective news” host Martha MacCallum argued that Wasserman Schultz was “trying to undermine” West and that “vile and despicable” may have been an appropriate way to describe her behavior. Perhaps in the interest of fairness and balance, MacCallum did allow as how West calling Wasserman Schultz “no lady” and telling her to “shut the heck up” was “a mistake.”

MacCallum was once again guest hosting America Live yesterday (7/20/11), a show that airs from 1-3 PM and, therefore, is part of what Fox News calls its “objective news” lineup. But as we and Media Matters have noted, MacCallum has quite a long history of promoting Republican positions.

The Miami Herald quoted from West’s email as follows:

“You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!” West wrote. “You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!”

The segment was supposed to feature a debate between Democrat Chris Hahn and conservative talk show host Chris Plante. But if you ask me, MacCallum did most of the talking. Early on in the segment, she suggested that outrage at West’s email was just a matter of perspective: “Well, you know, I think there’s different parts of the language in this email that might sort of get under different people’s skin.”

Then, after Plante finished speaking - without any comment from MacCallum - she made a point of explaining West’s position before Democrat Hahn had a chance to speak.

“The basic underlying point here is whether or not people are being unfair in the conversation when they talk to senior citizens on this issue and whether or not they’re trying to scare ‘em. The other stuff aside, that’s what’s going on here. So Allen West is saying, ‘Look, do not change my words about – you know, when you speak to my constituents'. That’s what he is truly upset about here, it would appear.”

Of course, that’s quite a sanitized summary of what West actually said. Hahn more or less made that point by citing the actual email and asking, “Where does (West) get off? I mean (Wasserman Schultz) is a member of Congress, a respectable leader of the Democratic Party, he’s telling her to shut up!”

“Let’s talk about that, Chris,” MacCallum helpfully offered. “The ‘vile and despicable’ says to me that this is an argument that’s getting ugly.” MacCallum then made a blatant attempt to justify it. “I’m also guessing that based on the fact that this is a vulnerable district, Debbie Wasserman Schultz feels – in Florida – that there’s more of this kind of stuff going on at home in terms of the leadup to his next election So she’s trying to undermine him with his constituents. That was very clear in what she said on the floor there. So ‘vile and despicable may be an appropriate way to determine that, to call that behavior.

MacCallum also made it clear she wasn't letting West completely off the hook - but with the mildest of reproaches. "When he says, ‘You’re no lady,’ …to me, that’s a mistake for any man to go there… and also ‘shut the heck up.’”

MacCallum said she’ll be interviewing West today.

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