You have to wonder if a day has gone by since the September 7 GOP presidential debate without someone on MSNBC referring to audience members cheering when NBC's Brian Williams asked Texas governor Rick Perry about capital punishment in his state.
Likely the most colorful description of this incident to date occurred on Monday's Hardball when host Chris Matthews said Republicans "look hot and horny for executions out in that Reagan library" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: John Heilemann, I have to go through a riff right now, because I think you and I cover -- so as Sam does -- this incredible portrayal by the Republicans of themselves. First of all, they look hot and horny for executions out in that Reagan library debate. Then they talk about letting the guy on the gurney die because he doesn't have health insurance. Then they mock the gay soldier. And then you've got Bachmann out there saying, if you don't have health insurance, fine, you can go to the poorhouse. And now this guy saying, hip hip hooray for foreclosures! This party has become a cartoon of Ebenezer Scrooge or worse. They play right into the president's hands, and he couldn't be weaker in terms of the economy. And they want to make him, what, are they trying to save this presidency, these guys?
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Chris, there's nothing I like better than being on television with you when you’re using the word “horny.” Let’s just start, start with that.
MATTHEWS: Okay, randy, better word. Go ahead.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: No, stick with horny.
Which is worse: people getting "hot and horny" over justice being served in their community, or a married man admitting on national television that he gets a thrill up his leg when another guy talks?
That asked, it seems a metaphysical certitude that the badly misinterpreted and overhyped actions of audience members at these debates is going to be part of this campaign right through Election Day.
With fresh allegations of a second rape occurring at an Occupy protest event, will Matthews and his ilk ever concern themselves with the truly abhorrent and illegal behavior happening on the other side of the aisle?
Or will audience responses continue to rule the day?