What journalist has the most influence over Valley congressman Devin Nunes?
Excuse me for saying so, but I have to be near the top of the list.
Let me present my case.
Who can cause temporary deafness on the ranking member of the House intelligence committee? Who can dictate the literal path he walks?
Maybe it Was Loud in That Hangar
Last week, Nunes appeared in Bakersfield at an airport hangar alongside President Donald Trump.
Naturally, I wanted to ask Nunes about a memorandum Trump signed to bring more water to Valley farmers — many of whom are Devin’s constituents.
Our esteemed congressman must not have heard me. He completely no-sold my request to talk. He traversed a path to get away from me as quickly as possible.
His reaction was similar to when I ask my kids to clean their rooms — temporary loss of hearing.
But I’m happy to share with you that Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s hearing is just fine. He answered my questions at the Trump event.
In fairness to Mr. Nunes, some have called me an aggressive reporter (using other colorful adjectives, I’m sure).
Six years ago, when I was a producer at Power Talk radio in Fresno, host Bill Manders got under Nunes’ self-described “tough skin” by questioning him on an NSA program that collected metadata on the phone calls of American citizens.
Two years ago, I kept my iPhone camera rolling as Nunes dodged a question I asked him about Russia. I’m glad he safely exited through the “no-exit” door.
— David Taub (@TaubGVWire) February 13, 2018
A Silver Lining
On the plus side, I finally got his office to return one of my phone calls for the first time in four years. Of course, it was to tell me I was not invited to a water forum Nunes held in Tulare. The ticket I had registered for would not be valid they said.
Ha! The joke is on them. They never sent me that ticket. Nunes’ campaign told the same thing to The Fresno Bee, who still sent their photographer to travel the hour-plus distance to the International Agri-Center, only to be shown the door. I watched a live feed of the forum from the comfort of my office.
I know that I am risking a lawsuit by Nunes for these words, but I’m not concerned. I haven’t visited Virginia — where Nunes likes to file most of his retaliatory legal actions against the media — in more than 25 years. I visited the college campus at the University of Virginia. It was just an excuse for my history-buff father to tour a Jeffersonian site.
Some people may conclude Nunes has something to hide by not speaking to me, The Bee, and others. I don’t believe that’s true. He isn’t giving us the cold shoulder because he’s afraid. He does so to mete out punishment for those who have upset him.
Who am I going to complain to? How do you shame someone who has no shame?
While any elected leader or representative of the government should entertain questions from an open press, or at least let them attend their events, there is no requirement to do so. And, no, Nunes isn’t the only politician to behave in such a manner. Nor, is it party specific. There are plenty of Democrats who share Nunes’ view of the media as well.
The only people to hold Nunes accountable are the voters of the 22nd Congressional District. And, for the past 18 years, they showed they are OK with Nunes as their man.
I Wish Nunes Well in Future Endeavors
In all seriousness, Nunes’ political values mirror those of a majority of his constituents, of which I am one. I mean that in a complimentary context: He’s conservative, fights for water and ag, and supports Trump.
I also believe this will be the last election go-around for Nunes, for whom I predict an easy victory come November.
In 2022, congressional district lines will be redrawn based on census data. And, population figures indicate California could lose one of its 53 House seats. I wouldn’t be shocked if the “nonpartisan” California Citizens Redistricting Commission consolidated Nunes’ district with the neighboring district of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
That’s OK. Nunes can pick up a role with the Trump administration come 2023 (or sooner) — if Trump wins.