September 23, 2013

Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” sounded like a Washington operator yesterday in a roundtable discussion with commentator Karl Rove and others. The topic was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and his controversial plan to defund Obamacare. Addressing Rove, Wallace said, “Karl, this has been one of the strangest weeks I’ve ever had in Washington. And I say that, because as soon as we listed Ted Cruz as our featured guest this week, I got unsolicited research and questions, not from Democrats, but from top Republicans who — to hammer Cruz. Why are Republicans so angry at Ted Cruz?” Rove, who last week addressed the craziness of using the “threat of a government shutdown to defund Obamacare,” luxuriated in the question, saying that the senator and his colleague, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), failed to consult their colleagues before determining strategy.

Someone out there, meanwhile, picked up on how unaccountable was Wallace’s comment:

Perhaps the country’s most Facebook-savvy media critic, Palin zeroed in on something quite real. It’s not too hard, that is, to find GOP voices who’ll trash Cruz under the cover of darkness. Here, for instance, is a passage from a Huffington Post piece from last week on Cruz’s approach to Obamacare and the prospect of a government shutdown:

Aides to top Republicans in the House, where GOP leadership has already been struggling to keep the party together on the measure, were beside themselves. And once granted anonymity, they didn’t mince their words.

“We haven’t even taken up the bill and Ted Cruz is admitting defeat?” fumed one senior GOP aide. “Some people came here to govern and make things better for their constituents. Ted Cruz came here to throw bombs and fundraise off of attacks on fellow Republicans. He’s a joke, plain and simple.”

Another aide said Cruz’s comment “exposes how [Senate conservatives] have deliberately misled their constituents and the grassroots for eight weeks. This isn’t leadership, it’s hypocrisy.”

Tweeted National Review Washington editor Robert Costa:

 

Costa on dynamics of sourcing:

 

The folks who were unaccountably lobbying Wallace accomplished their mission, of course — creating the impression that Republican disaffection with Cruz is wide-ranging. And perhaps it is, but there’s nothing like some on-the-record testimony to aid in the quantification. The irony of the Palin-Wallace quibble is that the “Fox News Sunday” host, in his interview with Cruz himself, cited the Republican opposition to his machinations, without relying on anonymity. To the transcript:

Senator, I think — excuse me, I think it’s fair to say that you ticked off a lot of your fellow Republicans who feel you got them into this fight without an end game, without a strategy. I want to put some of their criticisms. They have gone on the record. On the screen — Congressman Tim Griffin of Arkansas wrote, “So far, Senate Republicans are good at getting Facebook likes and town halls, not much else. Do something.”

Republican Congressman Pete King of New York calls you a fraud. “If he can deliver on this, fine. If he can’t, he should keep quiet from now on and we shouldn’t listen to them.”

And Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said this, “I didn’t go to Harvard or Princeton,” which you did, “but I can count.”
Republicans, especially in the House, say that you are pushing them into a fight that you don’t know how to finish. Senator?

And thus, the question: Why do you even need to cite those wimpy back-channelers when you’ve got solid stuff? Score one for the Alaskan — not only for raising the issue but also for attacking Fox News while serving as a Fox News contributor. More of that, please.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.