On Wednesday morning, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) had a heated discussion with Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) during the most recent hearing on the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. Following the confrontation, the folks at MSNBC rushed to defend the Maryland Democrat and condemn the Republican for ending the hearing after former IRS agent Lois Lerner refused to testify.
Appearing on the March 6 Jansing & Co., host Chris Jansing and Democratic strategist Angela Rye teamed up to criticize Congressman Issa, with the MSNBC host beginning the segment by asking Republican strategist Joe Watkins, “As a Republican…do you wish Congressman Issa had handled that differently?”
As the segment continued, Rye argued that the tense conversation “looks scary Chris. I worked on the hill six years, four of those years on a committee staff and I've never seen any behavior like that in my life. I think that it's very unfortunate. Forget the politics on this. Just on the human decency level that's not some behavior that you would expect from a chairman of the full committee.”
Rather than be an objective host, Jansing immediately took Ms. Rye’s side:
You turn off the mic of a ranking member? I agree with Angela today, I've seen a lot -- I've sat in this chair for 15 years and watched these hearings and I don't know that I've ever seen that before.
Apparently Jansing and Rye forgot about what happened in 2008, when Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) threatened to kick Congressman Issa out of an Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, the very same committee that Issa currently presides over.
Threatening to have a congressman physically removed from a committee hearing is far worse than Congressman Issa not allowing Congressman Cummings to mock the integrity of the hearing at hand, but to Jansing and Rye this most recent confrontation was the most offensive clash they had ever seen.
For Jansing and Rye to openly claim that Ms. Issa’s actions were unprecedented and “disrespectful” is both factually wrong and disingenuous. The liberal media has done its best to ignore the IRS scandal and this latest example proves that MSNBC will do anything it can do dismiss controversy.
See relevant transcript below.
Jansing and Co.
March 6, 2014
10:31 a.m. Eastern
CHRIS JANSING: I want to bring in political strategist and Principal of Impact Strategies Angela Rye, and Republican strategist and former White House aide to George H.W. Bush administration, Joe Watkins. Good morning. So obviously you both have a strategic bent, but Angela, how do you think this looks to the average American.
ANGELA RYE: It looks scary Chris. I worked on the hill six years, four of those years on a committee staff and I've never seen any behavior like that in my life. I think that it's very unfortunate. Forget the politics on this. Just on the human decency level that's not some behavior that you would expect from a chairman of the full committee. The ranking member on a full committee, even though they're across the aisle, are supposed to be your partner, whether it's an investigation, a hearing, a markup or what have you. And there's always been a level of respect across the aisle there so it was really shocking.
JANSING: Well, let me say play what Congressman Cummings had to say this morning on "Morning Joe."
ELIJAH CUMMINGS: As I just looked at the clip, it seems like Chairman Issa thinks that he can read my mind. And he forgets sometimes that quite often we are left, as Democrats in this committee, are left out of the discussions.
JANSING: As a Republican Joe, do you wish Congressman Issa had handled that differently?
JOE WATKINS: Well, I know that sometimes in the heat of the moment, in the heat of battle, things happen that otherwise might not have happened.
JANSING: You turn off the mic of a ranking member? I agree with Angela today, I've seen a lot -- I've sat in this chair for 15 years and watched these hearings and I don't know that I've ever seen that before.
WATKINS: Well there have been some things that have happened. I’ve been around for a long time. I worked for a U.S. senator, I worked for a U.S. president. I've seen the moments when members have gone after each other. It’s unfortunate when these things happen. At the end of the day all the elected members are there to serve the American people. I know that Congressman Issa was concerned about some of the things that Congressman Cummings was saying about him and felt that he was being slandered. This ought to be a teachable moment at the end of it all. The two ought to be able to come together, and to talk about it, and even if they had disagreements, as I know they do, over these hearings, they ought to be able to talk in a civil way to each other surely when they are in public.
JANSING: Joe makes a point, Angela. Let me play Chairman Issa's comments about what his version is of what happened.
DARRELL ISSA: After an adjournment he then perked up and said I want to ask a question. I said, what is your question? And then that exchange occurred because he didn't have a question. He was endlessly slandering the efforts of the committee.
JANSING: Is it lost on anybody here Angela that nobody is talking about the IRS.? I mean if the point of this was to learn something about the IRS and millions of dollars have been spent on this, I think Cummings says the IRS alone has spent $14 million responding to Congressional investigations, didn't something get lost here?
RYE: Well yeah, what got lost here is time. The Government Reform Committee is responsible for overseeing waste, fraud and abuse. At this point this process has been abusive and it’s been wasteful. And I won't say fraudulent by any means, but it's pointless at this point. They have gotten all they're going to get out of this. And Mr. Cummings, the fierce advocate that he is, was not going to be silenced. It's been an abusive waste of time. And they weren't going to get anything else out of Lois Lerner because they didn’t comply with what her attorney suggested-- I know that you disagree, and that's fine. I disagree with everything you said as well. But the issue is--
JANSING: Joe, it does seem that there's so much politics. Is it making itself irrelevant?
WATKINS: No, it's not, these matters are sometimes not pleasant, but at the end of the day the--
RYE: It was disrespectful.
WATKINS: The reason for these committees doing these investigations is to find out what the truth is and to get to the bottom of what's going on. And that's what they're doing. And sometimes they are long and tedious, but at the end of the day hopefully we find out what the truth is. And that's what Congressman Issa is trying to do. Whether people like it or not. And Angela, there's no need for us to be ugly to each other. We can disagree on issues.
RYE: Oh, I'm not being ugly.
WATKINS: But we can also be civil to each other.
RYE: I'm being very civil.
WATKINS: I know you are. Same with Congressman Issa and Congressman Cummings. I’ve met them both. I know they're both fine human beings, and they are good congressmen. They can certainly be civil to each other, I'm sure.