Right-wing media figures have criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for carrying a gavel while walking to the Capitol to vote on health care reform, claiming she sought to incite Tea Party members protesting the legislation. Glenn Beck said Pelosi was "inciting" the tea partiers and "slapping them across the face," and Rush Limbaugh said Pelosi tried to "provoke" tea partiers by "carrying that big gavel" with an "excrement-eating grin on her face."
Conservatives criticize Pelosi's "big hammer"/"big gavel"/"big mallet" and "excrement-eating grin"
Beck asks if Nancy Pelosi was "inciting" tea partiers with House gavel -- "a big hammer." On his Fox News show, Beck asked, "If [Pelosi] was really worried about violence and she thought these people were violent, why would you grab a big hammer and walk into a sea of these people?" He later asked, "Did anyone say to Nancy Pelosi, 'You're inciting these people. You're slapping them across the face'?" [Glenn Beck, 3/25/10]
Limbaugh: Pelosi tried to "provoke" tea partiers by "carrying that big gavel" with "excrement-eating grin on her face." On his April 2 radio show, Limbaugh stated that Democrats had "faked an incident" to make "false claims of racism at the tea party people." He further stated:
LIMBAUGH: They faked an incident. They faked -- they were trying to provoke an incident. There's no reason to walk above ground to get to the Capitol building from their offices. There's tunnels underneath with trains, subways, and so forth. They were purpose -- send the Congressional Black Caucus to walk over, send Pelosi over there with a big gavel trying to provoke an incident. When an incident didn't happen, they made it up.
Later in the show, Limbaugh discussed the issue with a caller:
LIMBAUGH: Those of you in the Tea Party who go to these rallies, I'm sure you're aware of the effort to besmirch you by accusing you of shouting the N-word at John Lewis.
CALLER: That was -- that did not happen.
LIMBAUGH: I know it didn't happen. There's no evidence it happened. If they had videotape evidence that it had happened, they would have shown it. They don't have it. They were trying to create it. They were being provocative. They were being contentious. There's no reason that that group of people from Congress had to walk through the crowd. They never go to the Capitol that way. They get there in the underground tunnels. They want -- and Pelosi carrying that big gavel with that, you know, excrement-eating grin on her face. They were trying to provoke everybody into an incident. And when it didn't happen, they said it did anyway. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/2/10]
Michael Graham: Pelosi was "asking for" response by carrying gavel. Appearing on Glenn Beck, radio host Michael Graham stated, "I think Nancy Pelosi marching through the protesters on the eve of the health care battle with that big mallet in her hand, she was asking for -- she was saying yet again, 'Just try -- don't even look at me. I'm in charge here. You people sit down and shut up.' " [Glenn Beck, 3/25/10].
Tea Party blogger: "It would have been more symbolic had she had a whip." On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Kevin Jackson of the blog TheBlackSphere.net, who was described by host Bill O'Reilly as a "Tea Party member," complained about the "symbology" of Pelosi's gavel:
O'REILLY: They say that they got assaulted verbally when they came into the Capitol for the health care vote. That really lit the fuse on this latest thing.
JACKSON: Well, it's interesting to me that -- the symbology of what happened, where you've got this very wealthy white lady leading a group of black, you know, men up to the thing with a gavel in her hand. It would have been more symbolic had she had a whip. [The O'Reilly Factor, 3/31/10]