More media weirdness broke out on Twitter yesterday during the House impeachment hearings, delivered to us from ABC political analyst Matthew Dowd. (I actually got involved in this one as it was happening because it concerned someone I have a bit of experience with.) At one point during the hearing, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R – NY21) was questioning one of the witnesses and correcting a misconception that has been circulating in the press about the Ukraine phone call. This was apparently a bridge too far for Dowd, who decided to tweet something out of the blue that was offensive on multiple levels. (Free Beacon)
ABC chief political analyst Matthew Dowd on Wednesday tweeted, then deleted an attack at Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) after she questioned witnesses during the House impeachment hearing.
“Elise stefanik is a perfect example of why just electing someone because they are a woman or a millennial doesn’t necessarily get you the leaders we need,” Dowd wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
People immediately began piling on Dowd, who deleted the offending tweet but not before plenty of us had screen-capped it and retweeted it. After Mark Meadows waded into the fray in support of Stefanik, she responded in a snarky but still appropriate fashion.
Thx @RepMarkMeadows ! It’s a good thing I wasn’t raised to measure my self-worth or professional work based on tweets from self-important @MSNBC commentators like Dowd (who is he again?)! I earn support from #NY21 voters bc of my focus on keeping my promises & delivering #Results https://t.co/o3BvcWh1NQ
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) November 13, 2019
In addition to deleting the tweet, Dowd did go on to try to apologize to Stefanik, but his first attempt fell flat. “Hey @EliseStefanik I just want to apologize for a tweet that is being misinterpreted,” he wrote. “I didn’t mean to suggest you were elected only because you were a woman or a millennial. I deleted the tweet.”
That is what’s known in political circles as a “non-apology” for obvious reasons. The tweet was being “misinterpreted?” Sorry, Matthew, but when you go out in public and say “just electing someone because they are a woman or a millennial,” people are going to take you at your word. Claiming you didn’t mean to suggest the precise thing you stated (word for word) and that we’re all just misinterpreting it doesn’t qualify as an apology.
None of this, however, wipes out the fact that Dowd’s initial reaction to hearing Congresswoman Stefanik in the chamber and doing her job was both obvious and telling. He could have chosen to criticize the substance of her questions and disagree with her comments. Instead, he defaulted to the “dumb young girl” attack. This says far more about him than it does about the Congresswoman.
On top of all that, even if we want to ignore the misogyny, Dowd is so far off base here it’s not funny. I’ve interviewed Stefanik a couple of times and I grew up in the district she represents. We still spend plenty of time up there every year and I follow the political coverage from the North Country regions of New York State. It’s a rather conservative area with a lot of folks out in the country who sometimes aren’t all that fast to pick up on politically correct social cues.
With that as background, I can tell you for a fact that Elise Stefanik was not elected because she’s female or a millennial. She was elected in spite of those facts. She’s earned the respect of the people she represents by constantly working for their best interests, even if it means she has to go against the agenda of the national party at times. Her background in private business and connection to the community have made her very effective in her job and people have responded to her positively.
The Free Beacon also picked up on another shot taken at Stefanik that I missed while all this was going on. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace decided to pile on the insults to the Congresswoman, saying, “It would appear @EliseStefanik is drinking the same loony tune juice with her breakfast as @NikkiHaley – going from occasionally reasonable republicans to Trump shills. #pathetic”
For her part, Stefanik got the upper hand, simply thanking Wallace for comparing her to Nikki Haley. But that doesn’t change anything. I found this attack to be particularly disappointing because I’ve always liked Nicolle and admired much of her early work. We’ve chatted over social media from time to time. When she originally went to MSNBC, I was actually kind of hopeful that she would be a positive, moderating influence on the network.
But that doesn’t seem to have happened. Maybe it’s just something in the water over at the liberal network. Or maybe, like so many people in the media, Wallace has been left completely broken by the election of Donald Trump and it’s showing up in her work. Either way, as I already said, it’s disappointing to see.