MSNBC's Brewer, Watson aired Gingrich's gratuitous Twitter attack on Pelosi

››› ››› BRIAN FREDERICK

MSNBC uncritically repeated a Twitter post by Newt Gingrich in which he attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for "standing up to applaud the private jet line" in President Obama's address to Congress "while she flies around in a government jet at taxpayer expense." Gingrich has repeatedly attacked Pelosi over her use of the plane while also falsely claiming that her predecessor, Dennis Hastert, did not use one.

On February 25, MSNBC aired a segment on Republicans' use of Twitter during President Obama's February 24 address to Congress. The segment, which included tweets -- Twitter posts -- from Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), also included a tweet from Fox News contributor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) in which he attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Gingrich's tweet, which anchor Contessa Brewer read and MSNBC aired a graphic of, read: "Speaker Pelosi standing up to applaud the private jet line while she flies around in a government jet at taxpayer expense verges on bizarre." Media Matters for America has previously documented Gingrich's repeated attacks on Pelosi regarding her use of a private jet.

Introducing the segment, Brewer stated that the "Republicans Twittered their way through President Obama's address to Congress last night." She added: "GOP lawmakers reacted in real time to practically everything the president was talking about." Brewer and co-anchor Carlos Watson then read tweets from Culberson, Barton, and Gingrich while the texts of their tweets appeared on-screen. However, Brewer and Watson did not air any Twitter posts from any of the Democratic lawmakers or pundits who also Twittered during the speech.

According to Watson, Culberson tweeted: "We are at war -- seems to me honoring our troops should come on page one rather than at the end of the speech." Watson also reported that Barton tweeted: "Aggie basketball game is about to start on ESPN2 for those of you that aren't going to bother watching Pelosi smirk for the next hour." Watson then said, "But Contessa, just a few minutes after this, someone else posted on his same page, 'Disregard that last tweet, [it was] from a staffer.' " Brewer replied: "Yeah, blame it on the staffer." (Those tweets have since been deleted from Barton's account.)

Brewer also stated: "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wasn't in the room, but he posted this about the speech." Brewer then read a combination of two tweets Gingrich had posted during the speech: "A Democratic pep rally not a State of the Union -- sophomoric and silly. Speaker Pelosi standing up to applaud the private jet line while she flies around in a government jet at taxpayer expense verges on bizarre."

As Media Matters documented, during the December 19, 2008, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Gingrich falsely asserted that Pelosi's predecessor as speaker, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), "did not get a private plane" following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Gingrich added: "There's no reason for anyone but the president and vice president of the United States to have that level of security." Gingrich made his comments during a segment in which co-host Sean Hannity criticized Pelosi's use of a private jet. In fact, following 9-11, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and Hastert was the first speaker to use one.

Some Democratic lawmakers tweeted during the speech, as several media outlets have noted. For example, a February 25 CNN.com article reported:

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, sent out a flurry of tweets during the evening. "One doesn't want to sound snarky, but it is nice not to see Cheney up there," he remarked just before the speech.

"Obama enters," Blumenauer wrote after the House Sergeant-at-Arms announced the President's entrance. "Crowd goes wild. Members taking pictures. McCain and Lindsey Graham. What a picture."

Democrat Claire McCaskill, perhaps the most avid Twitter user in the Senate, was excited to see Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg appear following her pancreatic cancer operation.

"I did big wooohoo for Justice Ginsberg [sic]," McCaskill wrote. "She looks good."

From the 2 p.m. ET hour of the February 25 edition of MSNBC Live:

BREWER: The Republicans Twittered their way through President Obama's address to Congress last night. GOP lawmakers reacted in real time to practically everything the president was talking about, and they gave some behind-the-scenes details. Here's a post from Texas Republican John Culberson. "All our seats are first come first serve. We sit wherever we want. The congressmen on the aisle got here real early."

WATSON: And later Culberson tweeted this way: "We are at war -- seems to be -- seems that honoring our troops should come on page one rather than at the end of the speech." Also, from another Texas Republican, this time Joe Barton, posted this, kind of interesting: "Aggie basketball game is about to start on ESPN2 for those of you that aren't going to bother watching Pelosi smirk for the next hour."

BREWER: Wow.

WATSON: But Contessa, just a few minutes after posting this, someone else posted on his same page, "Disregard that last tweet, [it was] from a staffer."

BREWER: Yeah, blame it on the staffer, right. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wasn't in the room, but he posted this about the speech: "A Democratic pep rally not a State of the Union -- sophomoric and silly. Speaker Pelosi standing up to applaud the private jet line while she flies around in a government jet at taxpayer expense verges on bizarre."

OK, if you're into Twitter, you can follow me by going to twitter.com/contessabrewer.

WATSON: Or you could also go to twitter.com/carloswatson. You can also get your daily tweets from all of our MSNBC anchors by going to twitter.MSNBC.com.

BREWER: I don't know about all this -- Twitter.

WATSON: [unintelligible]

Posted In
Government, The House of Representatives
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Contessa Brewer, Carlos Watson
Stories/Interests
Media Ethics
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