Boy do we have a doozy of a firsthand account from Northwest Arkansas. The lady on the left is Kelly Eubanks, a Fayetteville resident and constituent of Steve Womack’s who went to his town hall meeting he held in her hometown Wednesday night. Kelly works two jobs to support her two kids and is trying to finish up her degree, going to UofA in Fayetteville full time in addition to taking care of her family and working. She went to her Congressman’s town hall (something Womack rarely holds) to ask why he voted to cut the pell grants she depends on to go to school but wouldn’t cut oil subsidies. According to Kelley and a handful of other witnesses, Womack happily retorted that it wasn’t the federal government’s job to pay for education (he’s doing this in a college town mind you) and then quickly added that he paid for his education by joining the military, apparently suggesting that the mom of two do the same and totally oblivious I guess to the fact that it was, in fact, the federal government that paid for his education then. Well Womack tried to skirt the rest of Ms. Eubanks question and she proceeded to try and get him to address the discrepancy she pointed out. Well at this point, according to Kelly and several other people that were in the room, Womack blew a gasket.
He skirted the rest of my question and I called him out on it.. he ended up getting pissed off.. and screaming at me.. “are you going to be quiet and listen”
According to Kelly, some of his aides came up and tried to get the mic from her, but she held her ground and kept her cool, insisting her congressman answer her question. Following being shouted at by Womack and told to “be quiet and listen” like a good little girl, Kelly had to put up with some of the usual Rethuglican sleaze telling her to get a job, even after she told them she had two. (They’ve continued this on Womack’s facebook page.) What’s more, according to Kelly, Womack’s constituent service representative, Pam Forester, cornered her and according to Kelly got right in her face to inform her that if she wanted to talk with the Congressman again she needed to go through her and set up an appointment.
Well from there it gets even more fun because the two tv stations that covered it aired two totally different stories. 40/29 News ran a piece that caught the uncomfortable moment between the congressman and Ms. Eubanks. At the time of writing, the segment that was aired on tv hasn’t been uploaded to their website (they’re generally slow about updates on the 4029 page) but we’ll be sharing that as soon as it goes up. 5 News however ran a story where they called Kelly’s question “heated” (really? that’s what passes as “heated” questioning according to the traditional media these days? Man, our democracy is screwed if it is.) and totally cut out the Congressman jumping her case for asking it. (FYI, according to Kelly and my other sources in the room the other guy they interviewed was the one in the room shouting for her to “get a job at Walmart”…) You know, it’s one thing to complain about how bad journalism in Arkansas is after the fact, it’s another thing to see it actually unfold…Seriously, you can see this lady kind of shaking in the video after being yelled at and if you weren’t there or didn’t see the moment 40/29 showed its audience (again, we’ll have that as soon as we can) and that 5 News should have shown you’d have no idea why. Anyway, kudos to Kelly Eubanks, and we will try to have a link to the 40/29 video as soon as it’s posted.
Updates: 40/29 still hasn’t posted the video but the episode has made it’s way online regardless. It takes a lot of time to load but it shows a visibly angry Womack and gives the indication that Ms. Eubanks wasn’t the only one who got treated to Womack’s temper tantrum. Still looking for better quality video here, but really, this is what happens when the schoolyard bully grows up and gets elected to something. Womack’s facebook page has exploded over this. We’re going to stay on this until we get some more video that shows how bad the screaming got last night. Oh, and yes, at 4 am I did accidentally spell “mic” as in “microphone” as “mike”. I beg your forgiveness.