(This is an article I was asked to write for a website. I was given the headline and asked to write around 400-500 words. The final, edited product, appears here: http://bit.ly/d0Hkjr)
Washington, DC – At a press conference earlier today, Senator Harry Reid (D, NV) answered questions ranging from foreign affairs to gay marriage to abortion, and even the economy. The proceedings took a heated turn when Fox News correspondent Major Garrett asked Reid if he regretted pressuring banks to make subprime loans to unqualified individuals, which was a major contributor to the current financial crisis.
“You’re a racist!” Reid yelled at Garrett after he asked his question. “Do you know how I know that? You said we made them give loans to people that were unqualified. A vast majority of those people you referred to as ‘unqualified’ were minorities. Basically, you just asked me if I regret helping minorities get loans. While you might deny loans based on race, I don’t feel that’s an appropriate litmus test and I don’t regret helping those in need.”
Added Reid, “Unbelievable, typical conservative blather.”
Capitol Hill was abuzz over the exchange, and one senator threw in his two cents on the matter. Senator Orrin Hatch (R, UT), a longtime colleague of Reid’s, said that this was Reid’s typical tactic of deflection from the issues at hand. “I’ve know Harry for years, he’s a great guy,” said Hatch. “However, from time to time he has this tendency to lash out when he can’t defend himself. When I asked him if he dented my car last week he said I was ‘just a shill for big business.’” Hatch also said that he didn’t believe Reid was trying to be malicious towards Garrett in any way, but knew that he wasn’t able to defend his previous actions.
The other key player in the exchange, Major Garrett, wasn’t so sure that Reid was being totally fair. “Whenever (NBC News Political Director) David Gregory had a question, Reid bent over backwards to answer it,” Garrett told us. “However, when I asked a question, he frequently acted like he did not see me or pretended that I had asked him how his family was.”
This outburst comes just nine months after Reid made an insensitive, race driven statement about President Obama. In those remarks, he insinuated that the president was popular because of his light skin tone for an African-American. Reid’s poor wording in that instance resulted in others accusing him of being a racist, something that he vehemently denied. Senators and colleagues alike refused to comment on the record, but some have stated confidentially that they believe Reid was overcompensating for that prior faux pas.
In order to stem the flow of negative PR, Reid’s office has issued a press release defending his actions and behavior at the press conference. The release said “Fox News has a long history of conservative bias and a contentious relationship with Senator Reid. Senator Reid’s record on civil rights is unblemished, and a comment that he felt questioned his commitment to equality needed to be addressed immediately and aggressively.” While Reid could not be reached for comment, his Communications Director Jon Summers said, “Senator Reid was right to criticize Garrett. And if you’re questioning why he did, then I’m willing to bet that you’re in favor of partial birth abortion.”