January 29, 2020

What's the saying, "When you don't have a defense, criticize the process?" Here's a variation: "When you don't have an answer, criticize the person who asks." That's the perfect description of what happened in this press scrum with three Republican members of Congress and NBC reporter Heidi Przybyla. Add in, of course, a heaping side dish of sexism (why are you so PUSHY, Heidi?) because REPUBLICANS.

ZELDIN: You have to let me answer your questions.

PRZYBYLA: Okay, anti-corruption platforms...

ZELDIN: That's fantastic. Okay, so after you have... and listen, if I give a good answer, that doesn't mean that you have to cut me off. I know that if I give a bad answer you'd probably let me go all day. I understand that. This is our second day.

PRZYBYLA: I'll cut you off if you give a bad one.

ZELDIN: Right. Well, let me answer you.

PRZYBYLA: Go ahead.

Catch that? Meanwhile, no answer to her question (which was about corruption in Ukraine.) Just whining about not being allowed to finish answers that are filled with BS, and the insulting implication that she is not impartial and professional.

ZELDIN: Questions?

PRZYBYLA: Biden, Crowdstrike, and what is the other specific corruption?

ZELDIN: So, as far as — (to other reporters) listen, anyone else have any questions? I'd be happy to answer this one...

PRZYBYLA: I know it's a hard question, but it's important.

ZELDIN: Oh, no, no, no. Hold on.

PRZYBYLA: It's a hard question, because the president's not on the record mentioning anything other than Biden and Crowdstrike. That's it. And you haven't mentioned anything else.

ZELDIN: Okay, I'm happy to answer your question.

PRZYBYLA: Please.

ZELDIN: But all I was asking, because you have a lot of colleagues here,

PRZYBYLA: (to other reporters:) You guys want the answer, right?

OTHER REPORTERS: Yes/Answer that/etc.

ZELDIN: Okay, I'm happy to. But just...no...you have a unique style. Okay? And it's one that might not be as, you're not looking around to see if anyone else has any other questions. But if you want...

PRZYBYLA: You're not answering.

ZELDIN: Media. Media. If you all want to...I mean you're doing a great job as Schiff's shills.

PRZYBYLA: Don't insult us because we're asking you tough questions.

Anyone find an answer in there, yet?

Don't you love how Zeldin is telling Przybyla how to do her job? Criticizing her style of questioning, and then telling her she's not making sure other reporters get to ask their questions first, or being "polite" enough? You just KNOW he was dying to say she wasn't being "ladylike." Then came the "Shiff's shills" perjorative. All she wants is an answer to her question. Zeldin cannot handle it. Eventually he pawns it off to Mike Johnson, then Elise Stefanik, but Przybyla handles them with the same strength, professionalism and tenacity as she handled Zeldin.

Media, THIS is how you do your job. Bravo, Heidi Przybyla. Supporting shout-out, also, to the media who backed her up. The fourth estate has a fighting chance with reporters like these.

EDIT: The original version of this post incorrectly stated it was Rep. Hank Johnson in the scrum with Zeldin and Stefanik, but it was Rep. MIKE Johnson. The author regrets the error.

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