In 2010 Nunes Defended Protesters’ Right To ‘Smear,’ ‘Say What They Want’

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March 21, 2019 11:23 a.m.

Back in March 2010, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was an ardent supporter of the rights of those who wish to “smear” or “say what they want” to lawmakers they disagree with.

But in the age of Twitter, when lawmakers can be mocked via fake “cow” accounts, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has grown a bit sensitive.

During an interview with C-SPAN in 2010, right around the time House Democrats were gunning to gather enough votes for their proposal to overhaul health care — a move that would later become a focal point of President Obama’s legacy — Nunes defended the rights of protesters, who shouted the n-word, “homo” and other slurs at Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

“Well, I think that when you use totalitarian tactics, people begin to act crazy, and I think there’s people that have every right to say what they want, if they want to smear someone, they can do it,” Nunes said in the video, flagged to TPM by the Democratic Coalition. “It’s not appropriate, and I think I would stop short of characterizing the 20,000 people who were protesting that all of them were doing that. … The left loves to play up a couple incidents or there, anything to draw attention away what they are really doing.”

The defense of protesters who want to “smear” lawmakers is perplexing in the face of the lawsuit Nunes just filed against Twitter and three other Twitter users who have been critical of him online. In his complaint, Nunes claimed that Twitter has allowed users — like a Republican communication consultant and two parody accounts masqueraded as his “mom” and his “cow” — to hijack his name for the “sole purpose of attacking, defaming and demeaning Nunes,” a public figure.

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Nunes spokesperson did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

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