Reporters Fight Back Against Patrick Kennedy Rant

On "Washington Unplugged" Thursday, members of the so-called mainstream media defended themselves against Rep. Patrick Kennedy's House floor rant Wednesday afternoon.

The Rhode Island Democrat flew into a rage over the saturating coverage of former Rep. Eric Massa's allegedly inappropriate relations with young male staffers and what he considered a lack of fair coverage of the war in Afghanistan.

"[T]he press of the United States, is not covering the most significant issue of national importance and that is the laying of lives down," Kennedy screamed on the House floor before calling the press corps "dispicable."

Politico's Craig Gordon argued that the debate where Kennedy erupted was centered on Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich's proposal to bring the troops back from Afghanistan in the next sixty days.

"Certainly Afghanistan is a huge national issue. I think it is fair to say the press pays a fair bit of attention to it. This particular resolution cannot get off the floor of the house if it even gets a vote. So are there going to be fifty reporters packing the House gallery to see sort of a Dennis Kucinich symbolic resolution?" he said.

He added, "is it frustrating to people in Washington that the press corps chases a shiny object like the Eric Massa scandal, absolutely. Are we guilty of it to some extent? I won't even deny that. But you can't pretend that we haven't covered Afghanistan."

Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post made clear that editors and reporters at the Post are having "a lot of internal dialogue" on the Massa scandal coverage. "We are in constant discussions on when is this lurid, when is this Massa story just lurid and info-tainment and when is it important," she told moderator John Dickerson.

"You can't say the Washington Post and Politico haven't covered Afghanistan. We have devoted probably six reporters and three photographers to covering it last year in a very comprehensive way," Leonnig added.

Watch the full interview as well as an update from a London gathering of young leaders.

"Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes. =http:>

  • Michelle Levi

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.