Congressman Backpedals on Spitting Accusation


Among the unsubstantiated accusations of racism at the Washington, D.C. protest of Obamacare was Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s claim that he was spat on by a protester. This is perhaps the only incident we have even the vaguest evidence of and even this doesn’t portray well for Rep. Cleaver. 

But that’s okay, you see, because according to Cleaver, he never actually went around telling the press that he was spat on. And isn’t that what Pelosi parading members of the Congressional Black Caucus through a crowd of angry white folks was all about? Setting the stage and leaking accusations of racism without actually doing the dirty business of directly slandering innocent Americans? Just the accusations were enough to create a media meme to smear health care protesters.

A local Fox affiliate recently tried to get Cleaver on record to say definitively whether the incident happened or not.  He claimed he needs to avoid discussing it because doing so would “stoke” the situation. But, he also saw fit to mention — just so we’re clear — that he wasn’t the one who generated all the media controversy about supposedly being spit on. Fox quotes,

I haven’t talked about this incident on TV or anywhere, and I’ve been approached to talk about it on every national TV show. I never, I never reported anything, never a single thing in Washington, not one thing. People assume I went somewhere, never done press conference, never done an interview on it and I’m not going to do it.

Actually, this is completely false. Rep. Cleaver released a statement from his office chronicling the event. The statement said

For many of the members of the [Congressional Black Caucus], like John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver who worked in the civil rights movement, and for Mr. Frank who has struggled in the cause of equality, this is not the first time they have been spit on during turbulent times.

The statement also said that the protester who did the alleged spitting had been arrested, but that the congressman left the matter in the hands of the Capitol Police because he chose not to press charges. 

So, although it’s true that Cleaver never held a press conference or Tea Party Racism Awareness Candlelight Vigil, he certainly released a statement to be distributed to the press on the incident who handily reported on it ad nauseam. And now that we have questionable video evidence of the accusation, he doesn’t want to talk about it. 

It’s a tangled web we weave.  

(h/t The Lonely Conservative)

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 Nichole Hungerford is Social Media Director and Contributor to Smart Girl Nation. You can follow her work at ObamaPorn or via Twitter @ObamaPorn.