Big time for Wally

Two MSNBC news shows give him a tongue-lashing

After more than 22 stunningly undistinguished years in Congress, Rep. Wally Herger (R-Chico) finally made the big time—featured on not one but two national television news programs in recent days.

The cause of this sudden attention was the incident described in Mount Shasta City resident Jill Gardner’s letter to the editor. The meeting she mentions took place on Aug. 18 before about 2,000 cheering people at Simpson University.

As reporter Paul Boeger writes in the Mount Shasta Herald, people cheered when a man named Bert Stead stood up and described himself as “a proud right-wing terrorist.” To which Herger responded, with a broad smile, “Amen. God bless you. There is a proud American.”

That was enough to get him on both Hardball with Chris Matthews and Countdown with Keith Olbermann, two news journals on MSNBC. Matthews was irate, seeing Herger’s comments as yet another example of the overheated rhetoric that is setting the stage for violence. “Words lead to action, words create the national mood, the mood creates a license, and people take that license and use it,” he said ominously.

Olbermann, in naming Herger the “worst person in the world” for the day, gave him a royal tongue-lashing: “You’re a U.S. congressman, dammit. You’re bound by oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and if some buffoon in your audience describes himself with the word terrorist, you are at minimum required to remind him what that means and how many Americans have died at the hands of terrorists and tell him to shut the hell up…. And if you can’t, Congressman Herger, you’re not qualified to be Redding’s dog catcher, much less serve in the U.S. Congress.”

Amen to that.

On Tuesday (Aug. 25), Herger’s spokesman, Matt Lavoie, sent out a press release saying the congressman stood by his words and describing Mr. Stead as “a taxpayer and veteran who, like so many others, is rightfully fed up with being called ‘un-American’ or ‘extremist’ or a ‘political terrorist’ by liberals in Washington.”

Strange. We thought it was Mr. Stead who described himself as a “terrorist.”

I got an e-mail message a few days ago from a reader who was upset by something she’d seen on our Web site. The Classifieds section, in the lower-left corner of the home page, had turned into a mini-porn site, complete with graphic images.

I contacted the aces in our Operations Department, and they quickly took down the images. Turns out our online classifieds—a free service operated by Backpage—are automatically rotated onto and off the home page. Pornsters have figured that out and put their ads in such categories as Electronics, knowing they will eventually rotate to high visibility.

We’re keeping an eye on it. You can help. If you see something objectionable, e-mail us at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,119,101,98,103,117,121,64,110,101,119,115,114,101,118,105,101,119,46,99,111,109,34,62,119,101,98,103,117,121,64,110,101,119,115,114,101,118,105,101,119,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script>.