- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

USA Today’s Washington correspondent Paul Singer is calling himself a “stooge” for covering the House Democrats’ anti-gun sit-in last week, saying the moment that representatives cheered the press for its coverage of the “stunt” was one of the most embarrassing moments of his journalism career.

Mr. Singer explained the newsworthiness of the Democrats’ impromptu 25-hour filibuster in a call for action on gun control legislation, but he regrets helping them get their message out when they had “no chance” of passing legislation or changing government policy.

In an editorial titled, “That day I became a Democratic stooge,” Mr. Singer said that about 9 p.m. on June 22, the Democrats participating in the sit-in started congratulating each other and cheering, “a no-no when the House is in session,” he wrote.

“The lawmakers then turned to the galleries and thanked the visitors for their support, and everybody cheered some more. That was another no-no — lawmakers are prohibited from acknowledging the galleries from the floor,” Mr. Singer wrote.

“And then, my moment of shame,” he continued. “Someone on the floor called out thanks to the press, saying our reporting had spread the word and fueled their protest. The 100-or-so Members of Congress on the floor and the several hundred partisans in the gallery cheered for us. My colleagues and I were mortified.”

Mr. Singer said he didn’t want any credit for “helping Democrats perpetrate what Republicans correctly labeled a ‘stunt.’”

“Make no mistake: This was a stunt,” he argued. “It was a brazen attempt to make headlines and draw attention to an issue, not an attempt to legislate. Democrats then sent fundraising emails citing the sit-in as a reason to donate, which raises some questions about whether they violated House rules against using the chamber for political purposes.”

He said the Democrats’ act of cheering on the press was “embarrassing.”

“I don’t like being used, manipulated for a stunt, made to be a stage manager for political theater,” he said. “As much as I hate to help anybody, I have to confess here: I helped the Democrats tell the world they were protesting on the House floor, even though I knew they had no chance of passing legislation or changing government policy.

“But what was I to do? It was new, it was interesting, and it was news. I did what my job tells me to do,” he concluded. “But please — don’t thank me.”

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