Representative Patrick Kennedy denounced the “despicable” US media on Wednesday, charging it was snubbing a House debate on Afghanistan while lavishing attention on a congressional sex-scandal.
In an unusually angry outburst on the floor of the House of Representatives, Kennedy, the son of late Democratic icon Ted Kennedy, blamed reporters for the US public’s cynicism and disengagement from public affairs.
“It’s despicable, the national press corps right now,” he thundered, taking aim at coverage of fellow Democrat Eric Massa, who resigned his House seat under an ethics cloud and allegations he sexually harassed male staffers.
“Cynicism is that there’s one, two press people in this gallery. We’re talking about Eric Massa 24/7 on the TV! We’re talking about war and peace, three billion dollars, 1,000 lives and no press! No press!” said Kennedy, pointing to media seats that overlook the House floor.
The US public is angry at Congress “because of the press. The press of the United States is not covering the most significant issue of national importance, and that’s the laying of lives down” in the Afghan war, he said.
Kennedy’s comments came as the House debated a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan within 30 days or, if he deems that too dangerous, by the end of the year.
Witnesses to Kennedy’s speech said there were perhaps a dozen lawmakers on the House floor at the time.
Reporters often track congressional debates via the specialized C-SPAN television network, including on televisions in workspaces just feet from the seats overlooking the floor.
They also use specialized Internet sites, emailed statements, and other means that do not require sitting in the chamber.
This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast March 10, 2010.
With Wire Service