On Tuesday, Ohio Republican Rep. Steve Stivers tweeted this about his colleague Steve King: "Congressman Steve King's recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior."
Strong stuff! Especially given that Stivers is the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the group tasked with electing GOP candidates. And that King is in an at least marginally competitive race; his seat is rated as "Likely Republican" by CNN.
How did King respond? This way:
"Americans, all created equal by God, with all our races, ethnicities, and national origins-legal immigrants & natural born citizens, together make up the Shining City on the Hill. These attacks are orchestrated by nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake news. Their ultimate goal is to flip the House and impeach Donald Trump. Establishment Never Trumpers are complicit."
Look, I get that at this point simply saying "FAKE NEWS" is enough to convince a segment of the Republican population that whatever has been said must be the snowflake liberal media making something out of nothing. But, even in this climate of know-nothingness, King's attempt to blame this all on the so-called "fake news" is beyond ridiculous.
The media didn't retweet a Nazi sympathizer. That was King. The media didn't endorse a white nationalist candidate for mayor of Toronto. That was King. The media didn't meet with an Austrian political party with historic ties to Nazis and tell them "what does this diversity bring that we don't already have?" That was King.
And the media definitely didn't tell Stivers to put out a statement in which he blasts King and urges his party to "stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms." Just like the media didn't put Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo up to this comment in an interview with MSNBC: "His comments and his actions are disgusting. I would never cast a ballot for someone like Steve King."
King can throw up all the straw men he likes -- the media! the establishment! -- but the reality of the situation goes like this: For years, he has promoted groups and viewpoints that, at best, border on racism. It's difficult to argue that those views aren't a mistake or the result of some sort of broad-scale misunderstanding of what King really means. The seemingly obvious conclusion here is that he says this stuff because he believes it.
That is King's right. He can say what he likes and the voters of Iowa's 4th District can decide whether those views represent their views and whether they want King to serve two more years as their member of Congress.
But please spare me the "fake news" blame game. It literally makes no sense.