Why No HageeGate? Russert Explains

On Imus in the Morning yesterday, Tim Russert supplied an answer to that question — bubbling online and, yesterday, on the New York Timesop-ed page — given WrightGate, where is HageeGate? You know, not that it’s an apples-to-apples comparison (Obama’s relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and McCain’s relationship with Rev. John Hagee) but why have Wright’s way-out words received wall-to-wall coverage while Hagee’s hateful homilies have hardly been mentioned?

IMUS: Big stretch for Frank Rich to suggest that Rev. Hagee, that somehow McCain has the same relationship with him as Obama had with Rev. Wright but he did run it up the flag pole yesterday, didn’t he.

RUSSERT: He sure did. There’s been a lot of chatter on that, you know, about Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson’s comments after September 11th. If there was video of Hagee, it makes all the difference in the world….

If only there were video of Hagee. Then the Russerts of the world, Russert seems to imply, might have paid a bit more attention to him. Readily-available visual clips, you see, would have made “all the difference in the world.”

Clips like… this one? There for the taking since January on YouTube (a fact that Frank Rich led with in the column that Imus and Russert were discussing— complete with instructions for the uninitiated on exactly how to summon a Hagee clip on the YouTubes)?

Russert continued:

It’s interesting the Wright story was around, had been talked about a bit. At the Cleveland debate… I asked Obama about Farrakhan and Wright. What really broke it out though was that video that got on the reel and it kept playing over and over and over again. And because, as you point out, the 20-year relationship [Obama had with Wright]… but I don’t think the Hagee thing, McCain hasn’t been questioned, has not been scrutinized about that… He’s really been given this grace period to go around the country…

Translation: Of course I, Tim Russert, helped to nudge the Wright story into the mainstream with one of my signature timely, hard-driving debate questions but, in fairness, what really “broke it out” was “that video that got on the reel and it kept playing over and over and over again” (How did that video get on that reel and manage to play itself repeatedly? On my show, even?). Meanwhile, McCain has “been given this grace period” by…well, by me and my peers.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.