Abrams: Mastriano in Confederate uniform not such a big deal

Dan Abrams Live

Retired Army colonel Doug Mastriano, a Republican state senator from Pennsylvania who is running for governor, poses at left in a Confederate uniform in a 2013-14 faculty photo at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 9, 2014. The photo was released by the Army War College to Reuters on August 26, 2022 under the Freedom of Information Act. Mastriano retired from the Army in 2017. Army War College/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

(NewsNation) — Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is a lightning rod candidate. He has suggested that if elected governor, he can decertify all voting machines. He also participated in the Jan. 6, 2021 demonstration that led to the Capitol riot, and he has threatened to defund the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Those are real issues, but the issue that has exploded in the media recently sure doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me: his having once dressed up as a Confederate soldier.

A photo of Mastriano dressed as a rebel soldier recently resurfaced, which of course caused major media outrage because the media loves to peddle outrage.

At issue is a faculty picture for the 2014 school year at the Army War College, which shows then-state Sen. Mastriano wearing a Confederate uniform that he had chosen to wear for a faculty photo.

Reuters obtained the photo after filing a Freedom of Information At request to get the image that was taken eight years ago when Mastriano worked for the college.

Is this really that big a deal? I’m not here to defend Mastriano. The Confederates were traitors, and their fight was a shameful one. But given he represented the town of Gettysburg as a state senator, is it that big of a stretch for a guy that comes from an area rich in Civil War reenactment tradition? Civil War reenactments were a thing for ages.

ABC News reported on reenactments in April, and even Conan O’Brien got into the act with a sketch in 2013. Yes, O’Brien was dressed as a Union soldier, but this feels like the typical exaggerated outrage story the media loves.

It sparked anger among many on the left, include the Rev. Al Sharpton and pundits on MSNBC.

There are many reasons for concern over Mastriano — he didn’t just participate in the protests at the Capitol on Jan. 6, he spent thousands of his own dollars to send buses of his constituents to join him in what became a riot.

He is an extremist election denier. He may be the reason Republicans lose an election they could have won.

But dressing up as a Confederate soldier does not show he is treasonous, or pro-slavery, or whatever. It does show how much the media looks for outrage often in the wrong places.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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