Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz has long been something of a lightning rod on the news networks, vocal proponent of the Trump administration that he is. In recent weeks, however, he has become more than just an engaging mouthpiece on cable news appearances, showing himself to be a formidable force in D.C.
It was last month during Robert Mueller’s testimony that Gaetz came with more than accusatory prolix but substantial evidence to box in the Department of Justice lead investigator. He had substantive facts on his side and was prepared also for Mueller’s evasive answering. Now Gaetz is showing himself to be a strong voice in the minefield of the mounting anti-gun debate in the press.
Following the twin shooting events of the first weekend of this month, the media has been mostly in an unhinged cycle of blame and hysterical overreaching proposals. The media elites went from saying the shootings were inspired by President Trump’s rhetoric, to suddenly memory-holing the Dayton shooting entirely, once it was learned that the shooter was a supporter of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Even the blame on the El Paso shooter is selective, in that he was voicing his opposition to immigration policy well before Trump’s arrival, and he supports many platforms of a liberal origination.
In the days following the shooting, Matt Gaetz entered into the fray. CNN ran a piece following the episodes in which the network decried the fact that it had requested at least 50 members of the GOP to come on and discuss the events and gun policy. (Anyone who had witnessed that network’s rabid treatment of conservatives on its “fair and balanced” town hall following the Parkland shooting was wise to avoid CNN entirely on this matter.) In the segment, the network put on screen a graphic listing all of the GOP politicians who turned down the chance to appear.
Gaetz responded to this maneuver. While his name was not listed by CNN, interestingly he had been tabbed previously to appear, on two different shows. He put out a post stating, “I was scheduled for Erin Burnett today. She canceled. Then I agreed to go on (Anderson Cooper). They canceled later in the day. I’m ready for the discussion whenever CNN is.” Turns out this shook up some at the news network, and they responded.
The PR department at CNN put out a tweet disputing the Gaetz claim, in very direct terms. Have a look at this Twitter exchange.
Sounds like they really shut down the congressman, except for one problem: Gaetz, as they say, kept the receipts. He had evidence of email exchanges with the CNN scheduling division that showed the network had confirmed appearances with him the day prior to the shootings. The network had been the one to cancel. He also noted that CNN had been apprised of the fact that he would be in New York that weekend.
Even if, as the PR division claimed, his cancellations had been separate from the breaking events, why would the network not have attempted to bring Gaetz on for other segments, knowing he was available, and it was searching out GOP voices to appear? It certainly looks like an attempt by CNN to paint the party as running from the issue.
Gaetz did appear on the Fox News program with Jeanine Pirro days later, and he took a firm stand with the former judge on the matter of guns. She offered up that she was in Australia and mentioned how that country did not have to deal with the same gun problems we do in America. Gaetz was having none of it.
“Nobody would suggest that in the United States we would want Australia's solution -- there they went and confiscated all of the guns.” And then he lowered the boom on her proposal. “You know who did what Australia did? Venezuela.” Read this from Twitter.
Gaetz managed to have Pirro tied up, as she tried to counter. “No one is suggesting that people’s guns be taken away from them.” Except, she had just suggested people's guns be taken away from them by covetously declaring, "Australia does not have our problem."
For all of the controversial comments in the past he may have had attached to him, and his strong backing of the president, Gaetz is managing to become one of the consistently solid voices for the GOP.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.