Kennedy explains his harsh rebuke of press

Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Mass., told The Examiner Thursday that he wanted to ensure he got ample media coverage of an important point he was trying to make when he loudly scolded reporters during a speech on the House floor Wednesday.

Kennedy bellowed angrily during a debate on a resolution calling for troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by year's end. He argued passionately in favor of bringing the troops home, but he also took a little detour in his speech, slamming the press for what he called a “despicable” lack of coverage of the men and women who have been killed in the war.

“If anyone wants to know where cynicism is, cynicism is that there are one, two people in this press gallery,” Kennedy shouted, pointing up to the press viewing area directly above the Speaker's chair.

I was one of the two people Kennedy pointed at, along with Deb Price from the Detroit News. Truth be told, neither of us were sitting there in order to follow the debate on the resolution. It was a foregone conclusion it would fail, which it did, by a vote of 356-65. We both went into the viewing gallery because we heard Kennedy start to raise his voice on the television sets tuned to C-SPAN inside the nearby press office.

I invited Kennedy to follow up on his accusation Thursday afternoon and he assured me he meant nothing personal, despite his finger jabs at Deb and I from the House floor.

“The point is, my constituents are desperate,” Kennedy told the Examiner. “They've continued to have record job losses, home foreclosures, health care crisis and all we talk about is Eric Massa. And in addition we are about to double down on this huge expenditure on military policy and troop expansion and it costs us a fortune.”

Kennedy, 42, is retiring this year. The unemployment rate in Rhode Island is 12.7 percent and reporters are, in fact, obsessing over Eric Massa today.

“It's such a big disconnect that everybody hates Washington and feels everything is so cynical down here and that we are not doing our work because there is no coverage of it,” he explained. “That's what I was driving at. And unfortunately, nothing like that ever gets covered unless you ratchet it up a little bit.”

The speech became fodder for the evening news and is a popular hit on YouTube, so his strategy seems to have worked.


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