Sen. Kelly Ayotte recently held a town hall where her moderator intentionally limited gun questions. This is the first sign that Republicans are resorting to censorship when faced with public backlash.
For the last couple of years, when Republicans have been faced with a constituent backlash over an unpopular vote, they have resorted to various forms of censorship at their town hall meetings. There was a wave of censorship and arrests at Republican town halls after members faced constituent outrage over their vote to kill Medicare. Rep. Steve Chabot had police seize a citizen’s camera after he tried to record the congressman talking about his vote to kill Medicare. Rep. Paul Ryan had five people kicked out, and three people arrested at one of his town halls, and Eric Cantor had the jobless kicked out of one of his events.
After facing criticism and chaos for voting against expanded background checks, the moderator for Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte did something different. He only allowed one question on guns. The moderator, former Rep. Jeb Bradley admitted that he intentionally limited the questions on guns.
Here is the video from Granite State Progress:
Bradley explained why he limited the number of questions on Ayotte’s controversial vote against expanding background checks to one, “Well, she answered in great depth at the beginning of her town hall, talked about her vote on guns, and I just felt that given we had a limited amount of time and there were a number of other questions, that people should have the chance to ask other questions as well as on guns. I mean, we could have spent an hour and a half just talking about guns. I didn’t think it would be productive. There were many, many questions on guns supporting her position, and there were some against her position, so I just – (shrugs)”
Bradley also took responsibility for not allowing more questions on guns.
Allow me to translate what Bradley was really saying, “Get it people. Her vote on background checks was just another vote. There are lots of important issues to talk about. How about we talk about some of those instead? She doesn’t want to talk about this!!!!”
This is the biggest sign yet that Republicans are feeling the heat for their vote against expanding background checks. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dean Heller (R-NV), Rob Portman (R-OH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Mark Begich (D-AK) have all seen their job approval ratings drop since voting against expanding background checks.
Censorship at congressional town halls always begins with successful incident. Ayotte got away with allowing her moderator to limit the number of questions on expanding background checks to one. You can bet your bottom dollar that this tactic will be emulated in congressional town halls all across the country. It was a very clever move. Ayotte gets off the hook for her vote, and she gets to pin the lack of questions on the subject on her moderator.
Those who voted against background checks can try to censor all of their town halls, but they can’t escape the fallout from their shameful political calculus. When elected officials, or their moderators, censor the voices of their constituents, it is wrong.
On the plus side, when the opposition starts censoring you that means you’ve already won.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association