Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« Celebrate Pynchon's 71st birthday in Red Hook with Moxie, BBQ, and faxes to everyone's favorite literary recluse | Main | Thousands of dockworkers protest war in Iraq »

May 02, 2008

Citizen journalist kicked out of McCain rally for asking about "cunt" incident

A man attending a McCain event as a registered member of the press was kicked out of the Des Moines town hall meeting for asking a question that working press should have asked him weeks ago: Did you call your wife a "cunt"? 

The headline, below, is typical of the kid glove treatment McCain gets from the media. McCain didn't "field the question" he kicked a member of the press out of his Potemkin Village town hall meeting for asking a question:

McCain fields audience question on whether he called wife an expletive

REGISTER STAFF • May 1, 2008

A Clive man drew gasps from fellow audience members at today’s presidential candidate forum by using a four-letter word in a question to Sen. John McCain.

A member of the audience, identified as Marty Parrish of Clive, asked McCain during the event at the Polk County Convention Complex about a rumor that McCain had once used a profane word referencing female genitalia to describe his wife.

A book, “The Real McCain” by Cliff Schecter, accuses McCain of using the word in an exchange with his wife, Cindy, in 1992.

Here’s a transcript of today’s remarks:

PARRISH: This question goes to mental health and mental health care. Previously, I’ve been married to a woman that was verbally abusive to me. Is it true that you called your wife a (expletive)?

MCCAIN: Now, now. You don’t want to … Um, you know that’s the great thing about town hall meetings, sir, but we really don’t, there’s people here who don’t respect that kind of language. So I’ll move on to the next questioner in the back.

The audience gasped at the question and applauded at McCain’s handling of it. Parrish was escorted from the event and questioned by Secret Service, but not charged. Parrish had checked in to the event as a member of the press.

Parrish, a 45-year-old Baptist minister and technology business owner, said he attended the event specifically to confront McCain about the rumor.

“This is about character,” Parrish said, when reached by telephone afterward. “And in a moment of intemperance, he called his wife the most despicable name a person can call a woman.

Notice McCain didn't have the guts to answer the question. The word "no" is not, last I checked, considered profane, even in Des Moines.

It's not like the McCain campaign has a policy of not responding to the cunt allegation. McCain had his spokeswoman accuse Schecter of fabrication in the New York Daily News when the Schecter's book came out:

McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker brands the book "trash journalism" and tells us, "The story is completely fabricated." [NYDN]

McCain was implicitly warning the rest of the media not to ask him questions that make him mad.

Takes a big man to send out your spokesman to defame an author and kick a preacher/citizen journalist out of your town hall meeting.

McCain is a petty little coward whose toadies are crying "ambush" for a question about an allegation that was published over three weeks ago, addressed by a campaign spokeswoman, and discussed extensively in the media and online.

This is exactly the kind of bullying that lends further credence to Cliff Schecter's account and the many other examples of McCain's peevishness, intimidation, and rage that Schecter chronicles in his book, The Real McCain.   

Also, why does John McCain is hate the use/mention distinction?

HT: Eric.

Update: Watch the video.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c61e653ef00e5520a010a8833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Citizen journalist kicked out of McCain rally for asking about "cunt" incident:

Comments

Video is here.

What I want to know is this: If Mr.Parrish was not disruptive what freakin' business is it of the Secret Service to remove him from the room and question him? And the audience response-applause at how St. John handled the question-reminds me that H.L. Mencken was right and that we are in danger of repeating the mistake: "As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Right LB - the answer to the question is "No." Unless it isn't.

Have we really sunk so low that "Did you call your wife a cunt?" is not only an acceptable question for a presidential candidate but is so essential to mainstream public discourse that brushing it off is an act of cowardice?

His campaign had already clearly addressed the question. Confronting him again was a "gotcha", the sort of thing the wingers do to Obama all the time.

I don't know about the ejection of the "reporter", but McCain gave the question all the respect it deserved, and probably more.

He didn't brush off the question. He had the questioner ejected.

I might add that McCain's spokeswoman already addressed the issue, so McCain thought it was worth addressing in an official capacity. Why not repeat what his spokeswoman said on his behalf. If it was obscene to give the answer, why was it inappropriate to ask the question?

Have we sunk so low that it's normal to kick questioners out of public events for making the candidate upset?

"During one campaign appearance in 1952, a young man in the audience shouted up at Nixon: 'Tell us a dog story, Dick!' The candidate lost control of himself almost completely. 'When we're elected,' he shouted back, 'we'll take care of people like you!' Then Nixon turned to the Secret Service men in the hall and told them, 'OK, boys, throw him out!'"

That was, of course, over the "Checkers" speech, not any verbal nastiness towards Pat. Eighteen years later, Nixon came very close to using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, in a frantic attempt to save America's figurative sagging penis in a futile, pointless slaughter of a war similar to the one we're experiencing now. Coincidence? You decide.

Brian B

You are correct. This is an astonishingly weak "issue", a question that no serious person would ask in such a setting.


Brian,

If a presidential candidate has been reliably reported to have publicly called his wife the vilest term for a woman in the English language, it is indeed an appropriate question. Especially for a candidate whose "base" is our so-called journalistic community, you know the reporters who love them some barbeque at the candidate's cabin (sic) in the woods outside of Sedona. Is such a question uncomfortable for everyone? Sure. But St. John brought this one on himself. Besides, who are you going to believe? A famously hot-headed politician who never took a position he wouldn't change for the benefit of his current audience. Or three independent observers who tell the same story? The story that the McCain campaign says is "completely fabricated." If it's untrue, why not just say so?

PARRISH: This question goes to mental health and mental health care. Previously, I’ve been married to a woman that was verbally abusive to me. Is it true that you called your wife a (expletive)?

Phantom, what's a weak issue? Mental health? Verbal abuse between spouses? Truth in reporting?

Phantom, do you think it's appropriate to throw a registered member of the press out of a campaign event for asking a question? Especially a question that the campaign has already addressed on the record. If the campaign has already seen fit to deny the accusation publicly, why not repeat the official line?

It's one thing to refuse to answer a question, that's every interviewees right. Doesn't that strike you as bullying, intimidation, and arrogance to publicly escort the questioner out of the building?

Who is McCain to decide what the media can ask him? Just goes to show that when he can't control the reporters around him, he can't handle himself around the press.

This isn't a question meant to get at any level of truth. Its a bush league attack.

Look at the way the question was even phrased--Parrish connects two disparate things -- the fact that "I’ve been married to a woman that was verbally abusive to me", then an immediate segue to "Is it true that you called your wife a (expletive)? "

If there was to be even the pretense of it being a serious question the intro could have been "you've been known to have a temper" or "you've been known to say sharp words"...but no, the "registered member of the press" goes right to a the specific and quite likely,spurious, charge made by Democratic Party operative Cliff Schecter.

You can beat this one to death if you like, but Babba Buey journalism like this won't win the election for you. I think it will hurt the Dem cause. So, actually, I invite "registered [operative] journalists" to bring this up at every press conference between now and Election Day. I think it will backfire in a major way.

McCain a "coward"? Well, for what its worth, I've visited the Hoa Lo prison. Call McCain anything you like, but it's not exactly accurate to call the man a coward.

Phantom, you didn't answer the question. It doesn't matter what the topic is, you don't throw a member of the press out of a campaign event for asking a question.

The whole point of a town hall meeting is supposed to be that people can ask the candidate what they want to know about. He didn't have have to answer the question, but he has no right to act like a two-bit martinet and eject a registered member of the press out of the town hall. It's not even his town.

He's a big boy. Why couldn't he just say "That's a stupid question" and move on? Because he's a bully.

Phantom, it's not an issue, it's an incident. Don't get hysterical.

Well, we disagree.

It was a not a serious question. It was a prank. And I tip my hat to McCain for throwing the numbskull out.

As a matter of fact, I think that any candidate should be able to throw out anyone they choose from that candidate's events.

We might lose out on the questionable contributions from stalkers, Democrat or Republican plants, pranksters, and pie throwers, but the search for the truth will not be harmed one jot.

If the privilege is abused, word will get out that the candidate is afraid of tough questions. But thats not the case here. Parrish is a fake, and he was parroting the words of a Democratic Party operative in a way meant to shock the gentle minded and titillate the feeble-minded. The new Baba Buey indeed.

So yes, by all means throw guys like this out. I'm all for it, and so should you.

"...he was parroting the words of a Democratic Party operative..."

I thought it was Senator McCain's word he was mentioning?

It was a public event concerning a person who is running the highest office of the land. Start throwing people out, and you start dimminishing the democracy. Yes, we accept limits to speech, but asking a question about an issue, no matter how trivial, isn't one of them.

Except for someone's virgin ears, no one was physically injured, or even at risk of it. He wasn't attempting to incite a riot. It may have been in bad tatse, but it wasn't close to excusable to have him thrown out. This could worse than what McCain calls his wife for a president.

Well, if you defend this type of questioning, then don't ever complain when a politician doesn't hold lots of press conferences or when he/she only does them with known interviewers.

Maybe some of them aren't ducking the issues. If any of them, Dem or Republican, want to avoid this type of Baba Buey shock questioning, then good for them!!

I'm not aware of the McCain campaign officially addressing this on the record. Do you have a link?

In order to get him to answer in a forum like this, I think modifying the question to "Is it true that you called your wife a trallop and that other expletive vulgarity?" No crowd reaction, no ejection, just Johhnie on the spot.

Use/mention, phooey: what will get my vote is rejecting the scheme/content distinction.

"As a matter of fact, I think that any candidate should be able to throw out anyone they choose from that candidate's events.

We might lose out on the questionable contributions from stalkers, Democrat or Republican plants, pranksters, and pie throwers, but the search for the truth will not be harmed one jot."

This might be the stupidest thing I've read in the past few months. Yes, the truth is best served when you have only staged events with pre-screened and planted questioners...brilliant.

Lindsay: You love that phrase "registered member of the press". Whom was he registered with? What news organization does he work for? Where does he publish his "citizen journalism"? In fact, the article indicates that he was an activist posing as a reporter; as a real live reporter yourself, I'd expect you to have more of a problem with that sort of thing.

The guy himself made it clear that he wasn't interested in getting information, he just wanted to embarrass McCain. McCain didn't take the bait, and somehow this is a victory for our side? I'll never figure out leftist dialectics.

I also don't see where it was McCain who had the guy tossed out. My understanding is that it's quite difficult to order Secret Service officers around, especially when they don't report to you. What's your source on that?

redterror: "If a presidential candidate has been reliably reported to have publicly called his wife the vilest term for a woman in the English language ..." (emphasis added)

There are a lot of books out there these days, and some are more reliable than others. How well sourced was the assertion in question?

What phantom is trying to say is that Bill Clinton just should have booted out any so-called journalist who dared to ask him about a blow-job.

And since phantom is being such a silly little prick, mayber he should be removed from this comment thread.

Brian, the guy was registered as press with the McCain town meeting. They credentialed him for the event!

Here's the link where the McCain spokeswoman told the New York Daily News that the account of McCain calling Cindi a cunt was fabricated.

Remember back in the day when politicians could deal with hecklers? I would think big, tough John McCain the Maverick would be secure enough to say, "next question, move on" instead of hiding behind the Secret Service--even if he was afraid to answer a question he sent is spokeswoman out to speak on. It's not a prank when the campaign directs a spokesperson to address the issue by speaking to one of the largest circulation dailies in the country, and the Schecter anecdote has been reported by every major news service and TV network.

The mainstream media should have asked him about this long ago. It's not up to John McCain to decide who's asking a sufficiently "serious" question to avoid being ejected from a so-called town hall meeting.

--This might be the stupidest thing I've read in the past few months. Yes, the truth is best served when you have only staged events with pre-screened and planted questioners--

Grow up and re-read the thread.

Parrish did not ask any serious question. He sounds like a political operative, much as is Cliff Schecter, the source of this real or, what it appears to me, manufactured incident of sixteen years ago.

If phonies and plants like Parrish can't be expelled for trying to derail open meetings, then guess what? There won't be as many open meetings. There probably won't be any. Good for McCain for throwing the bum out.

--shrimplate--

In Clinton's case, there was a blow job, in the White House, on work time, from a junior employee who ultimately reported to Clinton.

A little different from the "McCain situation" where the source of the information is a Democratic party operative, and which, even if partially or wholly true, would not rise to the level of the employer exploitation or perjury aspects of what Clinton did.

I opposed impeachment, by the way.

--Remember back in the day when politicians could deal with hecklers? --

Oh, bullshit. Give me one incident where a politician was asked as vulgar a question as this this and dealt with it as you do a heckler.


The comments to this entry are closed.