Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) demanded an answer to a question today that the MRC has been asking for years: why do so many journalists refuse to ask President Barack Obama tough questions?
On the April 15 edition of MSNBC's "Martin Bashir," Walsh pressed the anchor after which the program is named on why he and his colleagues are such Obama sycophants, pointing to the media's unwillingness to criticize the Democratic president for ignoring entitlement reform in his initial budget blueprint.
"I'm flummoxed by something," remarked the freshman congressman. "I don't know why your profession doesn't ask the president of the United States why he got a second chance to put forward a budget."
Bashir interrupted to plead Obama's case, but Walsh plowed through the crosstalk: "I have not heard anybody in the media ask him why he didn't mention those programs [Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security] two months ago. You answer that for me. Why wouldn't he have?"
"I would be delighted to ask him the question," retorted Bashir, adding that the president was "not ignoring the issue" of entitlement reform in a partisan speech at The George Washington University in which he stopped just short of calling Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) un-American.
On Wednesday, Obama condemned the Ryan budget plan, which passed the House Friday along party lines, claiming it "would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we've known" and "paints a picture of our future that is deeply pessimistic."
A transcript of the segment can be found below:
April 15, 2011
3:15 p.m. EDT
MARTIN BASHIR: Republicans have lambasted President Obama's budget proposal, calling it highly partisan, inadequate, even class warfare. Just last week on this program, Congressman Joe Walsh, Republican of Illinois, had this to say about the Ryan plan compared to the Obama plan.
Rep. JOE WALSH (R-Ill.): You talk about ripping the president, I'll rip the president. He should be ashamed of himself. It was an act of real bravery today I think which counters an act of cowardice by the president a month ago.
BASHIR: And Mr. Walsh joins us live from Capitol Hill. Good afternoon.
WALSH: Hey, Martin, how are you?
BASHIR: Great. The president in his speech on Wednesday said this, and I'm quoting, "The America I know is generous and compassionate. It's a land of opportunity and optimism. Yes, we take responsibility for ourselves but we also take responsibility for each other, for the country we want and the future that we share." Now, is that cowardice, as you put it, or compassion?
WASLH: Well, his budget, my friend, does not back up what he just said there. His budget is an act of cowardice. Go back two months. He put forth a budget two months ago that didn't including anything about Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. Why did he do that? I mean, I'll ask you that question. Why didn't he mention those programs then, and yet he mentioned them this week? Why did he do that?
BASHIR: Well, here is a point. He said that you and your party are happy to give the president a $200,000 tax cut by asking 33 seniors to each pay $6,000 or more in health care costs. That's pretty detailed, isn't it?
WALSH: I guess I just – I'm flummoxed by something. I don't know why your profession doesn't ask the president of the United States why he got a second chance to put forward a budget. He knows, like we do, that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security need to be reformed. They are driving us off a cliff right now.
BASHIR: But did he –
WALSH: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. He knew that two months ago. I have not heard anybody in the media ask him why he didn't mention those programs two months ago. You answer that for me. Why wouldn't he have?
BASHIR: I would be delighted to ask him the question. Sadly, he has not agreed to be interviewed by me. He has done interviews with other people. Perhaps they didn't ask. But he did actually say, did he not, that we have to have a detailed conversation about Medicaid and Medicare and he wants that to happen. So he's not ignoring the issue.
WALSH: No, he's not. He did after he ignored it two months ago. Look, everything he's doing right now, whether you want to admit it or not, is driven by politics. So he kept quiet two months ago just hoping the Republicans would come out and talk about Medicare and Medicaid and you know what? We did. In a real responsible fashion we started a dialogue. And again it's so curious to me, then he comes out this week and talks the same. Look, this is why I came to Washington. This is a great debate about what we want our government to do. The vote I made today for Paul Ryan's budget I am so proud to make that vote because that literally expresses a mindset that doing nothing for Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security will bankrupt these programs. We know that.
BASHIR: But, Mr. Walsh, what did Mr. Ryan do over the previous period where two wars were launched, where Bush tax cuts came in? Did he do anything about those issues? What about the expenditure in relation to those?
WALSH: Look, look, Martin, I ran for Congress hitting both parties over the head because they both have been spending money at a pace that we can't afford. You're right, President Bush did the same darn thing and Republicans kept quiet about it too darn long. But something happened last November, and the American people gave the keys to this town to the Republicans to try to stop this spending. And, again, with this budget I give Paul Ryan all the credit in the world. He took a courageous step right now. He said we have to reform these programs to save them and then the president pokes his head out of the woods again. He's not leading in this debate, he's following. But that's fine. The American people want us to lead.
BASHIR: Mr. Walsh, you said he was a coward, but as you know, his mic was open last night – sorry, at a fundraiser, and he was heard to ask the question, the rhetorical question, do they think I'm stupid, speaking of Republicans. Do you think he's a coward and do you think he's stupid?
WALSH: No, gosh no, I don't think he's stupid. I don't know the man that well. All I know is everything he's done the last 2 1/2 months has gone against leadership. The budget he put forward, I won't run from this, the budget he put forward when he put it forward two months ago was an act of cowardice because he knew we're falling off a financial cliff and he won't be honest with the American people. A press has got to lead and this guy won't lead and that's not right and the Republicans in the House will.
BASHIR: Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois, thanks again for joining us, and we look forward to your next appearance here.
WALSH: Thank you so much.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.