Critics ruthlessly hammered the Associated Press on Friday after the news agency published a sympathetic chronicling of the plight of runaway Texas Democratic lawmakers who jet-setted to Washington, D.C., recently in an act of brazen political theater.
In an article that reads like one of John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage," the AP shamelessly commemorated the state lawmakers' supposed bravery in skipping town to block the passage of an election security measure in their state.
"Sheltered in a downtown D.C. hotel, the Democratic lawmakers who left Texas to block a restrictive voting bill are living a life of stress and scrutiny," reads the sappy article. "Legislators find themselves balancing a punishing schedule of political lobbying, outside work and family obligations, all under a national spotlight."
"Many have left young children behind; most have other professional obligations back in Texas. All seem to be operating on minimal sleep," the AP communicates as if sending wartime correspondence.
"The lawmakers describe 16-hour days of essentially operating in shifts, with some working the Capitol and doing media interviews, while others carve out four hours or so to handle their other jobs," it continues.
One lawmaker, state Rep. John Bucy, who decided to take his 17-month-old daughter and 27-weeks pregnant wife with him to play hooky, relayed the particular difficulties his family is facing.
"It's really hard," he told the AP. "There's no childcare here. My wife works. I work."
Adding weight to their already heavy burden, the lawmakers and their families report not being able to enjoy the tourist attractions of the nation's capital.
"Representatives say they're currently too busy go out to dinner, take their kids to a museum or any of the other typical Washington-visitor activities," the report noted.
"We are not here on vacation," insisted state Sen. Jose Menendez. "We are here to do a job."
What has been the reaction?
It's safe to say the article has not garnered the positive response the authors were hoping for. Instead, critics on social media responded by pummeling both the news agency and the lawmakers over their publicity stunt. Below are some of the best samplings:
- "Did a Texas Democrat write this?" blasted one commenter.
- "Nice press release," said another, while a second user added, "This is propaganda."
- "A showcase of courage," one user quipped, while another added, "Hereos one and all."
- "They're literally skipping work," another noted.
- "It's their job. They are well taken care of. They need to stop acting like babies and fight for democracy," a user bluntly stated.
- "'A punishing schedule'? Every time I see them on here they are taking selfies or trying to sound cute on Twitter. They walked out on their obligations. They aren't balancing anything," said another commenter.
- Doubling down, another user said, "'punishing schedule' ... Hey there's a fix for all this...."
- "If they can't do the job fire then, just because they are public officials doesn't mean they are exempt from punishment," added a critic.
- "They're drinking beer, riding on private jets and living in a nice hotel room," still another charged.
- Complementing the previous point, a user noted, "It would be a hell of a lot more stressful for me if I didn't show up to work. I stipulations get a free DC hotel room and I'd get fired from my job."
- "Private plane and Miller lite wish my job was they tough," added another.
- "'Punishing schedule' my ass!" exclaimed another commenter.
All jokes aside, many commenters did point out that things may actually get tough for the "fugitive" lawmakers when they finally get home. Handcuffs might be waiting for them.