When Are Hearings 'Hecklings' for Politico? When Republicans Run Them

When Are Hearings 'Hecklings' for Politico? When Republicans Run Them

Politico accused Republicans of “heckling” witnesses at committee hearings at the House of Representatives in a lead story by David Nather on Thursday morning ahead of testimony about the failure of the Obamacare website. According to Nather, it fell to Republicans–and Republicans alone–to decide whether to conduct real oversight over the administration and contractors, or “just heckling from the partisan peanut gallery.”

Anyone who has watched the various hearings this year–from the Benghazi hearings to the IRS scandal–would know that while there are partisan speeches on both sides, the bulk of heckling has come from Democrats in their attempts to defend the administration. (On Thursday, the heckling began with Rep. Frank Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey, who refused to obey the chair and stop shouting at Republicans.)

The classic example of heckling comes from 2004, when Democrats (then in the minority) badgered the regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, crushing Republican efforts to conduct oversight of that troubled institution. Using terms like “pissed off” and “lynching,” Democrats bullied the witness–and ended early attempts to head off the subprime mortgage crisis. (We all know what happened a few years later.)

What Politico is doing here is transparent: setting boundaries around oversight in order to protect the Obama administration from scrutiny for its failure in the Obamacare rollout. When Democrats ask tough questions of witnesses–or, as witnesses, yell at members of Congress–the mainstream media celebrate them for speaking truth to power. When Republicans stand up for their constituents, they’re “heckling.”


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