At first blush, Megyn Kelly’s scolding interview with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa last night over his behavior toward Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings may have seemed like she was exerting some political independence and real journalistic chops over the Republican IRS witch hunt investigation. But if you carefully consider what she said, it’s pretty clear that her chief complaint was that Issa’s behavior was harming the Republican efforts.
In case you missed it, there was a dustup between Issa and Cummings at a House hearing into the IRS so-called scandal earlier this week. The Washington Post explains:
The uproar followed the latest clash between Issa and the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), on Wednesday, when Issa abruptly ended a committee hearing without allowing Democrats to speak and cut off Cummings’s microphone while he was speaking.
…Conservatives have griped that the clash between Issa and Cummings has overshadowed the hearing itself — during which Lerner did not answer questions about the investigation into whether the IRS targeted political groups for disproportionate scrutiny. On Thursday, Cummings hit back. He said that, had he been allowed to speak, he would have asked about the potential to have Lerner’s attorney address the committee, which he said could have helped provide answers to Issa’s questions.
On Thursday, several House Democrats alleged that, instead of truly seeking answers, Issa and other Republicans are using the hearings as a way to keep voters talking about the IRS investigation as the midterm elections approach.
Instead of Kelly’s respectful listening persona (adopted during her later interview on the subject with Brent Bozell), she used her testy, questioning persona and frequently interrupted Issa.
Here’s how Kelly chided Issa:
I get the deal with the IRS, that you’re looking for answers. But the point is, (Cummings) was gonna make a statement. He was probably gonna rip on you. …But who cares? So let him have his couple of minutes to rip on you. You’re a big guy, you can take it. And then you wouldn’t have distracted from the issue that you were trying to call attention to.
…The polls show as recently as late February that (the public wants) the IRS investigation to continue. This is a side issue. Because people are saying that the Democrats are now using this. I mean, the Democrats are using this against you and are making a big deal out of this. And you’re a powerful man. And you’re one of the only people who’s pushing on this investigation. So now, even some Republicans are mad at you because they feel that you’ve distracted from what is a legitimate issue and it’s now become about, “Oh, does Darrell Issa want to shut down debate?” as Elijah Cummings put it. “Does he want to shut out the minority voice? Is that what Republicans stand for?”
If you think that Kelly just decided on her own to challenge the Republican Committee Chair in charge of one of the Republicans’ major issues – and to berate him for hurting that effort – without the approval, but more likely the direction, from above, then I’ve got a “fair and balanced” cable network to sell you.
Issa was somewhat defiant during the interview, insisting that he “broke no rules” and went “according to the books.” However, he also repeatedly suggested that if he had it to do over, he would have let Cummings speak.
Then, as further evidence that Issa knew that Kelly’s message came from Fox News/GOP Command Center, Issa apologized to Cummings last night, presumably after this pre-recorded interview.
In fact, you would have to imagine that because Democrats have never done that.
Imagine how Kelly would have treated Anthony Weiner if he had done that and sat down with her for an interview?
Issa’s behavior reminds me of the Clinton impeachment hearings where 801subpeonas were issued by Republicans and 3 subpoenas were allowed to be issued by Democrats. And the right-wing talking heads called that “bi-partisan!”
Issa’s idea is to allow ZERO opposing views, thoughts, or even words.
Sad day for Democracy.
It’s also interesting that Issa is projecting the tantrum he threw onto Cummings, making the patronizing comments that Cummings was emotional and having “a hissy fit”. The reality is that Issa has repeatedly thrown public tantrums and embarrassed himself in front of the Congress by playing the role of “aggrieved Congressman in search of the truth” while actually grandstanding for himself. In this case, Issa lost his temper and petulantly shut down the hearing without allowing anyone else to speak. Cummings had a real statement and question which would have addressed the notion of having Lerner’s attorney speak for her, which in turn would have provided the “answers” Issa insists he is seeking. (But Issa isn’t really interested in finding those “answers” – he just wanted to grandstand by shutting down the hearing in a fit of pique.) When Issa not only refused to allow Cummings to speak but then began acting in a condescending manner toward him, interrupted him and made a grand gesture of telling people to cut Cummings’ microphone, Cummings became understandably frustrated. Cummings’ anger over Issa’s behavior was more than merited. Issa’s nastiness towards Cummings and toward Lois Lerner was not.