Are Republicans finally learning how to handle the press? The answer to that is probably not, but there are at least some in the GOP who have gotten the message, and Sen. Josh Hawley is one of them.
In a recent interview with St. Louis affiliate KSDK, Hawley brought the receipts and confronted a reporter named Mark Maxwell over his past condemnation of Elon Musk. The result was pretty funny, with Maxwell deciding that the best explanation to offer was that he was drunk-tweeting.
Ladies and gentlemen, your vaunted press corps.
"You also said that you didn't necessarily do any of this sober…I hope you do our interview sober!" pic.twitter.com/jOwyFbtAma
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) March 17, 2023
HAWLEY: I gotta ask ya, why all the hate for people who like free speech on Twitter, what’s uh, what’s going on with that?
MAXWELL: I don’t understand your reference, what are you referring to
HAWLEY: When you said, uh, you called proponents, people who liked Elon Musk buying the site Twitter a bunch of “booklickers.” This was on March 6th. I’m looking at it right here. Seems kind of vitroilic.
MAXWELL: Yeah, I suppose it was, it was a moment of frustration when the site went down and there were a lot of folks in my mentions who have quite, uh, the cultish adoration for him, (crosstalk) in my opinion.
Yeah, going to bat and defending him at every turn even when he was banning journalists from the site for no apparent reason, uh, yeah, I felt like the industry of jouranlism, a part of the First Amendment has come under specific attack, at times, from Mr. Musk.
Let’s stop right there because several parts of Maxwell’s answer are just silly. For one, Twitter crashed many times under the old regime. The idea that the downtime in early March was some unique circumstance caused by the fact that Musk gutted the bloated company is a dumb suggestion. And really, is this guy so addicted to Twitter that he couldn’t handle not using it for a few hours?
As to his claims about Musk banning “journalists” for “no apparent reason,” that’s just false. Aaron Rupar, for example, is not a journalist. He’s a leftwing hack who posts out-of-context clips in the mold of Media Matters. He was banned for breaking the TOS, after linking to a site that doxxed the location of Musk’s private jet. Even still, Rupar and others were unbanned within a day or so.
That’s a far cry from the crackdown on dissenting opinions that happened under the old Twitter regime. Did Maxwell ever complain about that? Of course, he didn’t, at least not that I can find. These “journalists” only care about free speech in the context of left-wing reporters not having to follow basic rules. When it comes to actual censorship, they clap like seals.
HAWLEY: You also said that you didn’t necessarily do any of this sober. “I didn’t do any of this sober,” you said. I hope you do our interview sober. I hope you’re sober now.
Hawley had other examples and caught Maxwell completely off-guard. Things continued from there, with the reporter tripping over himself to lighten the mood and walk back some of his statements. It’s a fun clip to watch.
I’d like to think other Republicans would take a cue from the Missouri senator about how to handle the press. Unfortunately, far too many in the GOP still think they can woo these partisans over to their side. It’s never going to happen, and anyone going into an interview without having done their homework is going to end up embarrassed. Hawley knows how to play the game, though.