August 19, 2009

Yesterday on three separate reports Fox News, its various anchors and reporters told viewers that Rep. Eric Massa, talking with progressives last week at Netroots Nation, had told them he's "vote against the interests of his district" in order to support the single-payer option on health-care reform.

They were, of course, distorting. Massa did at first say he'd vote against his constituents' interests when what he clearly meant was that he'd vote against their popular opinion if that meant protecting their best interests. And he quickly corrected himself to say that.

What the Fox crew was counting on was their ability to confuse viewers over the difference between voting for the popular wishes of one's district and its actual wishes. What Massa said -- quite clearly -- was that he would vote for the public option even if his constituents had the opposite opinion, precisely because it would be in their best interests.

This meme actually originated in the Washington Times, which characterized it the same as Fox: "Rep. Massa: I will vote against the interests of my district."

But look at what Massa actually said:

MASSA: I will vote for the single payer bill.

PARTICIPANT: Even if it meant you were being voted out of office?

MASSA: I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful.

PARTICIPANT: You'd vote against their interests, or their opinion?

MASSA: I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them.

Digby posted about Massa's position the other day:

I was on a panel at Netroots Nation with Congressman Eric Massa. He was adamant about the public plan. There was no need to cajole him into supporting it, he had been there all along. He is also in a very tough swing district and his town halls have been horrific. It didn't move him, he stood and fought with his own constituents and came out even more committed because he realized just how important it was going to be to the very people who were so sadly misinformed.

That's called leadership and it deserves our support and thanks.

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