Out and About (Sort of): Rep. Harris Disbelieves the Obvious by Howard Freedlander


Our 1st District Congressman, Andy Harris, speaking last week at an event called “Conversations with Conservatives,” questioned why the American people and the media were focusing on the Trump-Putin news conference and ignoring a ‘successful summit.’

He further criticized the “mainstream media” for its unfriendly attitude toward President Donald Trump. He also was the last member of the Maryland congressional delegation to sign a letter seeking Trump’s approval of awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the late Capital Gazette reporter, Wendi Winters, for sacrificing her life to save her co-workers during a newsroom shooting on June 28, 2018. She rushed the crazed gunman with a trash can and recycling bin before she was gunned down, according to eyewitnesses.

Harris watched the news conference, as did conservatives and liberals alike. He was among few thinking people who chose to ignore the president’s capitulation to the Russian president’s criticism of U.S. intelligence findings about Russian manipulation of the 2016 election.

He said it was important to examine only the summit. That’s difficult to do since Trump hasn’t revealed any details of the one-on-one with Putin. Instead, the Russians are controlling the spin. And that’s downright frightening.

It wasn’t the “mainstream media” that organized the disastrous news conference. It wasn’t the media which placed words in Trump’s misguided mouth that only an observer who was deaf and dumb could interpret as anything other than they were: an attack on the nation’s intelligence community.

As written in a July 18 Baltimore Sun editorial, “But that news conference wasn’t some contrivance of the press. No one caught President Trump in an off-guard moment. It was an orchestrated event designed to place Messrs. Trump and Putin together on the world stage.”

“And it wasn’t filtered through the viewpoint of a reporter or misleadingly spliced together by a video editor. It was broadcast live internationally, and the entire world could see and hear exactly what President Trump said.”

Rep. Harris said, ‘I disregard and discount anything that involves the mainstream media press.’

Mr. Harris chose to ignore reality.

While I am unsurprised that Harris and his conservative compatriots condemn the media, I am dismayed that he was the last member of the congressional delegation to urge the president to honor posthumously a hero. He apparently wanted to study the facts and the letter signed by the nine other delegation members.

What was there to review? Why was it necessary to hesitate in the face of constant coverage of the horrible killing of five Capital Gazette employees?

Was Wendi Winters less heroic by being part of the hated mainstream media?

Harris’ support is vital to the success of the award request. Trump views him as a loyal soldier. The other nine members of the delegation are Democrats.

Rep. Harris has always been an enigma to me. Perhaps that’s because I compare him to a predecessor, former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, a moderate Republican well respected for his integrity, commitment to the 1st District and his political independence. I always felt confident that Gilchrest fought for the Eastern Shore regardless of consequences.

Harris seems driven more by his political leanings than his support of Shore matters. I have not gleaned, for example, a passionate commitment to resolution of the economic travail being experienced by crab-picking operations.in Dorchester County. Lack of visas for foreign workers has hit businesses hard. Yet, last week, when Gov. Larry Hogan met with seafood entrepreneurs about the lack of workers and consequent economic distress, he pledged to do something.

It’s much easier to have faith in Gov. Hogan than Rep. Harris.

I hope that Andy Harris will come to share distrust of the motives of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as do some of his fellow Republicans. I hope he understands the difference between live and edited coverage of the world’s two primary leaders. I hope he fully appreciates Wendi Winters’ actions in the face of a relentless shooter.

I am proud to be a member of the “downstream media.”

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Letters to Editor

  1. Beryl Smith says

    I’m not sure how Mr. Harris got through medical school except that he must have been good at memorization, not reflection and understanding. He seems to have selected a side of the aisle and he says what they tell him to say rather than thinking for himself. He has made no legislative marks and seemingly feels that his only obligation is not to the electorate in District 1 but rather to Trumps legions.

  2. Sarah Porter says

    This piece sums Harris up very well . His time in office should be up and only voters can make that happen. I hope that other media besides Spy pubs will publish articles like this that shine a light on Harris so people can see that at best, he is useless.

  3. Matthew Daley says

    I do not count myself a Harris fan, but it does seem that the legislation he introduced on the H1 Visa program is directly responsive to the needs of our Eastern Shore crab processing operations.

  4. Carla Massoni says

    Mr. Harris responds after the fact and for purely political reasons. He is an ideologue first and a representative of the Eastern Shore only when necessary and always during an election cycle. Jesse Colvin is my candidate. Although I am a registered Democrat, I have voted for many Republicans – Wayne Gilchrest and Connie Morella – faithfully served their constituencies and I voted for them because they were qualified for the position. My hope is that Republicans will join me in voting for a candidate who is qualified, committed, and eager to serve ALL of us.

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