Patrick Kennedy vs the News Media

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports: In a fiery speech on the floor of the House, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-RI, lashed out at the news media for focusing on trivial issues and ignoring a Congressional debate over the war in Afghanistan.

“It’s despicable, the national press corps right now,” Kennedy bellowed. Kennedy’s outburst came as the House debated a measure sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH , that would set a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

“If anyone wants to know where the cynicism is, there's two press people in this gallery,” Kennedy yelled as he gestured up to the press gallery above the House floor. “We're talking about Eric Massa 24/7 on the TV. We're talking about war and peace -- $3 billion, 1,000 lives -- and no press, no press.”

“You want to know why the American public is fit?” he continued. “They're fit because they're not seeing their congress do the work that they're sent to do. It's because the press, the press of the United States is not covering the most significant issue of national importance and that's the laying of lives down in the nation for the service of our country. it's despicable, the national press corps right now.”

As Kennedy spoke, the floor of the House was almost as empty as the press gallery, with only about a dozen of the 431 members of the House in attendance.

Before lambasting the press, Kennedy harshly criticized the Obama Administration’s policy in Afghanistan.

“I hear my colleagues talk about the flag of Afghanistan, as if Afghanistan is a country,” he said. “In case anybody has bothered to look at it, it's a loose collection of 121 different sovereign tribes, none of them get along with each other, and it's a mountainous terrain of rock and gravel and the notion that our soldiers are over there laying down their lives to secure ground. We ought to be after the Taliban and the terrorists, anybody who is organizing to strike in our country, I am for that.

“But I am not for organizing an organized military campaign where we're having to go in and take in these towns and subject our soldiers to unnecessary threats where we are putting our treasure and our lives and our men and women in uniform on the line unnecessarily.”

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