Capitol Hill is a scary place right now. Put one foot out of place and you could be run over by a reporter who's trying to get a quote out of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Senators are being swarmed every day on their way in to the Senate chamber. But it's expected. This is only the fourth impeachment trial in the history of the United States.
Last week Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) had apparently had enough of CNN's Manu Raju chasing her down for a quote, and in frustration called him a "liberal hack." The network spent several minutes chiding her for her treatment of the press. Conservatives defended McSally and insisted she was only reacting to a rude, biased Q&A.
There was another testy exchange between a member of Congress and a member of the press on Tuesday as the opening arguments of the impeachment trial wrapped up. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), as shown in a video shared by CNN's Brian Stelter, became visibly frustrated with NBC reporter Heidi Przybyla and her aggressive line of questioning.
As the video starts, Zeldin is already exhausted. Przybyla is heard asking the Republican why Trump was suddenly interested in corruption in Ukraine on that July phone call, and about the paused military aid. She didn't let him get many words in.
"You have to let me answer a question," Zeldin tells Przybyla.
Zeldin to members of the media: "You're doing a great job as Schiff's shills."@HeidiNBC: "Don't insult us because we're asking you tough questions. We're not insulting you, don't insult us." pic.twitter.com/Jd83btepyX— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 29, 2020
"Listen, if I give a good answer, that doesn't mean you have to cut me off," Zeldin tells the reporter. "If I gave a bad answer you'd probably let me go all day."
But Przybyla continued to pepper him with questions she insists he's not answering, such as why President Trump was supposedly only interested the Bidens and nothing else when it came to corruption. Zeldin tried to list a host of other issues the Trump administration discovered in Ukraine.
"I know it's a tough question to answer," you can hear Przybyla say to Zeldin sarcastically. She insists that she and her fellow reporters are tasked with a burden to "correct misinformation in real time."
"You're insulting your audience," Zeldin reacted.
As Zeldin noted on Twitter, NBC appeared to edit out much of his explanations. He shared an unedited version.
Aside from @HeidiNBC's 20-25+ interruptions (DC press record?), you have to love @NBCPolitics then cutting out our answers re what Zelensky & his team were doing to fight Ukraine corruption after May 19. @RepStefanik @RepMikeJohnson https://t.co/q4CxXuSJUG (UNEDITED version) https://t.co/trOiv3am3q— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) January 29, 2020
Przybyla tweeted back that nowhere in his 3-minute answer did he address specific instances of corruption.
Eventually, as you can see, Zeldin was so frustrated that he stepped aside and let his colleagues Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Mike Johnson (R-LA) try to talk to Przybyla. But they didn't have much luck either.
There are a lot of personalities in the Senate. Expect a few more clashes, especially in the next couple of days as the senators-turned-jurors are asked to vote on additional witnesses.