It was a short, shocking question: "Who is going to shoot Obama?"
That's what a town hall attendee asked Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) at a meeting Tuesday night. The question apparently drew chuckles from the audience (it's unclear if they were "funny" chuckles or nervous chuckles). Broun responded to the question by blowing it off. But now, the media is going crazy over what he said.
The response wasn't anything groundbreaking. When the man posed the question, Broun chose to use three sentences that changed the subject, brushing aside the question instead of engaging the content of the absurd query:
The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president. We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
But it's what he didn't say that has many outlets up in arms.
A story on the Huffington Post says "rather than confronting the questioner or condemning the question, Broun instead acknowledged 'frustration' with Obama ... ." Gawker sarcastically adds, "and hopefully nobody will shoot the president. That would have probably been a good thing to include." The Daily Best lectures, "Some questions you want to dodge, others you want to rebuke. This was one of the latter," while Salon describes Broun's response as "not object[ing] to the question." And Politco writes "the Republican didn’t come anywhere near condemning the question in his response."
For a little bit this morning, HuffPo even had the confusing, front-page headline, "SHOCK: Congressman Asked, 'Who is Going to Shoot Obama?" It eventually changed that headline to say "Congressman Is Asked," however the old headline still appeared as a tease on the upper part of the page when a reader looked at other stories:
But what none of those news outlets are asking is, "What if the question was a plant?" Considering a recently-revealed Democratic (and union) plan to flood local town hall meetings, it's a possibility.
The Hill covered the plan yesterday:
Democratic strategists believe their Tea Party moment has arrived.
Working with labor unions and liberal groups, they are using the Presidents Day congressional recess to organize a public backlash against billions of dollars in cuts to federal programs.
One labor organizer said that members have been urged to attend congressional town-hall meetings to ask Republican lawmakers “pointed questions” about the cuts they supported last week.
And guess who else is supporting the move? The liberal, Soros-funded Moveon.org (which is also sponsoring the Van Jones-endorsed 50-state protest marathon this weekend):
Justin Ruben, the executive director of MoveOn.org, a progressive advocacy group, has also encouraged members to grill lawmakers at town-hall meetings.
“Whenever we hear about a town-hall meeting we encourage them to go and ask pointed questions about what is happening,” he said.
"I don't think that was the case," Broun's D.C.-based spokesman Austin Carson told The Blaze. While he says there is a chance the questioner could be a "plant," he feels it's more likely the man was just asking a ridiculous question with no ulterior "gotcha" motives.
Still, other questions remain. The simplest being, "Did the congressman not engage the questioner -- and stand up to him -- because he was afraid the man was legitimately unstable (thus making it dangerous to do call him out)?" We don't yet know -- Carson referred specific questions about the congressman's response and thoughts to his district-based spokesperson. We are awaiting her response.
Carson did say he was shocked to see HuffPo's original headline, saying that as it was previously written "There's no way that's true."
And according to him, the media frenzy may have just begun: MSNBC host Chris Matthews called the office seeking comment. An official statement will be released sometime today.