On Thursday, congressional reporters confronted South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson on his infamous "You lie!" interjection. Wilson launched into a lengthy explanation of how he called the White House and apologized, but added that he still had issues with the health care reform bill as it related to illegal immigrants. The reporters then asked if his outburst was pre-meditated, which Wilson denied. And then he was off to vote.
The gathered reporters continued to shout questions after Wilson. Take a look at the video of the moment. You will very clearly hear some reporter ask a question with no seeming relevance to current events: "Who do you have tonight? Clemson or Georgia Tech?"
There's a reason you hear the question so clearly. The questioner is NBC News reporter and Politico Party Animal Luke Russert! Ahh, but the story gets better. I spoke to another reporter, present at the Wilson scrum, who says that Russert was really, really tirelessly working to get Wilson's insight into the Clemson-Georgia Tech game:
"I'll give him that [first question]. Sometimes you need to do stuff like to slow the guy down and throw him off his game. But as we're yelling out more real questions, Luke follows up with, 'Do you think they can handle Georgia Tech's running attack?' Then I got pissed. A follow up?"
So there you have it. Luke Russert, going hard at the heart of relevance!
Interestingly enough, Clemson could not handle Georgia Tech's running attack. Not at all. Tech rushed for 301 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Georgia Tech would go on to beat Clemson 30-27, aided considerably by a successfully faked field goal that led to a first quarter touchdown. Twitterer @delrayser pointed out the irony: the fake field goal is football's "YOU LIE" play.
UPDATE: Luke writes me to complain that I neglected to mention the following: "I was the reporter who first asked Rep. Wilson what the GOP leadership said to him the night of President Obama's address. In fact, I was the first reporter to ask him a question on camera post the "You lie!" incident."
This is because I wanted to get to the bottom of the weird football questions, but okay: now I have mentioned these milestones.
Russert adds: "Also, Rep. Wilson's son goes to Clemson and the Congressman is a big college football fan. For those reasons I found it appropriate to ask him a light hearted question on what was otherwise an intense day."
Obviously it was very thoughtful of Russert to seek to alleviate all of the intensity that Congressman Wilson found himself under, for some reason.
Luke concludes: "Beforehand I joked with members of his staff and other press people that the reason over twenty reporters were camped outside of his office was to get his insight into the Clemson game."
And I'm sure everyone thought that was a very good joke.
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