Rebecca Kirszner Katz, adviser to Senator-Elect John Fetterman, argued on Twitter that reporters’ traditional method of “yelling questions” at senators in the hallways “will not work” with the Democratic Pennsylvania politician.
Her comment came following a Tuesday tweet from HuffPost senior politics reporter Igor Bobic who mentioned that Fetterman did not respond to a question as they passed each other.
“Spotted in Senate basement: John Fetterman. He didn’t answer when I asked if he’ll be able to wear his hoodie on Senate floor.” Bobic tweeted.
Katz later responded to Bobic’s question and also added the act of “yelling questions at Senators” will no longer “work” as Fetterman continues to recover from the stroke that he suffered back in May.
“Two things we need to get out of the way: 1) John Fetterman has a suit and will wear it to the Capitol. 2) He is still recovering from a stroke and has lingering auditory processing challenges. The way Hill reporters are used to yelling questions at Senators will not work here,” Katz wrote.
Katz’ comments were later ridiculed and criticized on social media.
“All questions are to be written down & submitted in advance. They will be returned once his wife has had time to answer them. No way @giselefetterman doesn’t end up on the Senate payroll. When you’re doing all the work, and in on the scam, you milk it for all the money possible,” Townhall.com columnist Derek Hunter tweeted.
“Either he’s a Senator or he’s not a Senator. If he is a Senator, he should be treated as a Senator,” Washington Examiner writer Nathan Wurtzel wrote.
“He can’t understand what they’re saying to him,” Substack writer Jim Treacher tweeted.
The Independent White House correspondent Andrew Feinberg joked, “Should we use cue cards, ‘Love Actually’ style?”
The Spectator contributing editor Stephen Miller wrote, “So are we to understand he cannot understand words being spoken to him?”
However, MSNBC columnist Eric Michael Garcia defended Katz’ response and advised his fellow journalists to change their methods.
“My colleauges [sic] in the Capitol press corps must be just as cognizant of this when we ask Fetterman questions in the halls, just as we are to Tammy Duckworth in her wheelchair. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to ask tough questions. Rather, doing so will allow us to get answers,” Garcia tweeted. “I’m not interested in asking Fetterman softballs. Far from it. I care about holding him accountable. The only way we can do this is if we can accommodate him. We must remember we are coworkers with members.”
Fetterman’s health and his capability of serving as senator following his stroke has been questioned for months leading up to the midterm elections. Though his campaign defended against accusations against Fetterman’s health, NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns acknowledged when previewing her exclusive interview with him that Fetterman maintained “lingering” issues.
“I’ve spoken with stroke experts. They say folks can fully recover from that, but the caveat that every expert gives is that they can’t fully assess a patient without details on their health records, without that information that the campaign has yet to disclose. We’ve asked multiple times for medical records, for interviews with someone from his medical team. Those requests have been denied to NBC News and other outlets that have requested this as well,” Burns said at the time.
Burns’ comments were later attacked by liberals as well as fellow reporters who insisted there were no issues when interviewing Fetterman.