You could hear the contempt dripping from Mark Steyn's voice last night as the conservative columnist filled in to host Hannity on Fox News. Steyn was talking to guest Dick Morris about the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. It's named after a first responder who died from a respiratory disease attributed to his rescue efforts on the morning of the Sept. 11 terror attack. The bill is designed to aid and compensate emergency workers like Zadroga who responded to the terror attack and who have since been suffering from various life-threatening ailments.
The relief bill passed the House by more than 100 votes in September. But earlier this month, Republicans, practicing a unique brand of obstructionism and defiance, filibustered the Zadroga bill because Republicans had vowed not to consider any legislation until a tax cut for the rich was passed. All other bills were voted down regardless of their content.
In recent days, the Fox News team has tied itself if knots trying to come to the aid of patriotic 9-11 emergency workers while at the same time often refusing to tell viewers that it was, y'know, Republicans who unanimously blocked the bill weeks before Christmas. (One notable exception: Shep Smith, who called out the GOP senators that refused to come on his show to discuss the bill.)
Last night on Hannity though, host Steyn dropped any pretenses of caring about the ailing first responders, and instead suggested the $7.4 billion bill was "sentimental" and "doesn't seem like a big deal." Indeed, it represents "everything that's wrong with the way government operates in Washington."
And yes, you heard Morris right. He dismissed the 9-11 first responders bill as "inventing new things to spend money on."
What is wrong with these people?
Honestly. It's one thing to make the claim that the Zadroga bill costs too much, which has been the fall-back position for many Republicans and their parrots in the conservative press. But for a national cable "news" channel to prop up a TV host and his dopey guest to ridicule and demean thousands of brave men and women who risked their lives on Sept. 11 and who today are racked with diseases that ravage their bodies, while their insurance companies often refuse to pay the mounting medical bills; for these right-wing clowns to go on national television and dismiss the relief bill as "sentimental" and to deride it as basically a piece of pork legislation, is really beyond the pale.
Does Fox News have no shame? If it did, it would issue a public apology on behalf of Steyn and Morris. And not just to the first responders and their families, but to the entire city of New York.