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On Thursday, Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) called a CNN reporter a “liberal hack,” a quip that earned her praise and derision, depending on which side you came down on.
But was it the kind of spontaneous, off-the-cuff remark she made it seem to be?
Immediately after, the McSally campaign became the owner of the domain name liberalhack.com. Her new site is selling T-shirts based off her confrontation with CNN reporter Manu Raju.
“A little insight into how calculated this was. McSally attacked Manu in the 10am hour. She had registered the domain name “http://LiberalHack.com” by the 11am hour. (16:24 UTC = 11:24 EST)” Kyle Cheney, Politico reporter, tweeted this morning.
A little insight into how calculated this was.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) January 17, 2020
McSally attacked Manu in the 10am hour. She had registered the domain name "https://t.co/YQW3ySFPna" by the 11am hour.
(16:24 UTC = 11:24 EST) pic.twitter.com/TkBHt8S2BZ
Cheney first noted the quick turnaround. He said that the campaign launched the website an hour and 24 minutes after she called Raju a “liberal hack.”
Whether good press or bad press, the GOP senator turned the media dodge into an immediate fundraising effort.
“NEW SHIRT!! I’m in the Senate to fight for all Arizonans, not play politics and games with the liberal hacks of the left-wing media! http://Liberalhack.com,” @McSallyforSenate tweeted.
NEW SHIRT!! 🚨— Martha McSally for U.S. Senate (@MarthaMcSally) January 17, 2020
I’m in the Senate to fight for all Arizonans, not play politics and games with the liberal hacks of the left-wing media! https://t.co/tNbKJa49JN
The confrontation comes days before the Senate impeachment trial, which is expected to begin on Tuesday. They will determine if President Donald Trump is guilty of soliciting the help of a foreign country for his political gain.
Raju asked McSally if the Senate would hear new evidence that has surfaced this week.
Q: Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 16, 2020
McSally: You’re a liberal hack I’m not talking to you
Manu- You’re not going to comment about this?
McSally: You're a liberal hack. pic.twitter.com/IW5pCfZ6Oa
She was featured on Fox News on Thursday night where she detailed her victory over the media.
“I’m a fighter pilot, I call it like it is and that’s what I did today,” McSally tweeted along with her Fox News segment.
I'm a fighter pilot, I call it like it is and that's what I did today. pic.twitter.com/2PHc1fo2xo— Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) January 17, 2020
Conservatives are cheering McSally on for sticking it to the media. Meanwhile, others on Twitter are seeing past the so-called publicity stunt.
Too busy to answer a question. Has enough time to register a domain in the middle of an impeachment trial.— Bill McCormick (@BillMcCormickPM) January 17, 2020
“She’s practiced that line all morning,” @rockymtngrrl tweeted.
She's practiced that line all morning.— Mtngrrl wants hand-marked paper ballots (@rockymtngrrl) January 17, 2020
It is possible that the comment was calculated by the Arizona senator, who faces a challenging election in the fall.
Or, maybe her campaign team consists of speed coders and graphic designers who were quick to spin the confrontation in her favor.
Libby Cohen is a third-year University of Texas student originally from New Jersey. She has written for ORANGE Magazine, the Daily Texan, and most recently interned for 1010 WINS in NYC. She's now back in Austin writing for the Texas Standard and the Daily Dot.