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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, October 06, 2006

McIlheran Watch: Lies and the Lying Liars Edition

Patrick McIlheran, my true "MSM" nemesis, has picked up Jessica McBride's recent assertion that I control the media spin on the story or whatever. He blogged yesterday:
Spivak and Bice wondered the other day how long until the Democrats start demanding Mark Green return any money they got passed along by disgraced and resigned Rep. Mark Foley’s campaign.

Doubtless, the only bottleneck is studio time to make the ad. Compunctions clearly form no bar to the Doyle campaign, which still shows no shame over usurping the state Elections Board.

And, as Jessica McBride points out, the Dems’ peanut gallery is already singing along, with one Milwaukee blogger already making the absurd contention that John Gard, not yet in Congress, is somehow part of a coverup.
Let's start with some absudities here: By the time (6:00 pm Tuesday) the Spice Boys "wondered" about when Dems would demand the return of the Foley money, Green had already announced (Monday evening) that he would donate the $1000 from Foley's PAC in 1998 to charity, and, as that AP story notes, the state Democratic party had already called on Green to return it. The Spice boys seem a little slow on the uptake, there. There's just no excuse for McIlheran, writing two days after the Spice Boys, for not knowing that Green figured the cash was still toxic eight years later and gave it up. (Yesterday, but after McIlheran's post, Paul Ryan, the only other Wisconsin Republican who got Foley money, gave his away, too, though I don't know that anyone actually called for it.)

Then there's the part of McIlheran's post that's about me--the "one Milwaukee blogger" contending that Gard "is somehow part of a cover-up." That's not what I said; that's not even what McBride said I said. She wrote,
What was Gard's "offense?" He took money from Republicans being accused of "protecting" Mark Foley. Gard's not even in Congress yet! In other words, it's all below the belt.
She thinks I wasn't being fair when I said "Gard needs to explain how and why he thinks it's a good idea to keep $27,000 in PAC money from men who knowingly participated in the cover-up of crimes and inappropriate behavior." I can see her point, but as I wrote yesterday, that's a legitimate question to ask.

To be fair, what McBride links to is not actually the post here on my blog, but the re-posting of it I did at the World's Biggest Blog, Daily Kos, which you can read here. But I wrote the exact same sentence about Gard there.

So in three paragraphs, McIlheran blows it several ways, without even touching the unfounded spin about Doyle's "usurping" the SEB. P-Mac tries a dig at Dems for probably wanting to demand that Green give back money Green had already unloaded; he misrepresents what Jessica McBride wrote about me; and, in the process, misrepresents what I actually said.

But that was not, in my eyes, McIlheran's biggest sin in that post of his. No, that came at the end, when he wrote,
As Dean Barnett points out, this is oddly like the Wellstone funeral affair: Democrats letting their emotions carry them too far.
I've gotten riled up about this before, in part because I really, really liked Paul Wellstone, and in part because the conservative lies and myths about the Wellstone memorial service are among the basest and most disturbingly false accusations that they peddle--and they are also pervasive. But they are lies, and the Barnett piece McIlheran links to repeats them all:
Democratic partisans opted to use his metaphorical coffin as a campaign prop while trying to rally the faithful. [. . .] But what made the Wellstone Memorial noteworthy was its raw ugliness. Republican dignitaries who attended the event to show their respect for Wellstone were booed when their images were shown on the Jumbotron. Many fevered-swamp type Democrats saw nothing wrong with this. The country recoiled from the spectacle, utterly repulsed and shocked.
I wrote about these lies two summers ago after the death of Ronald Reagan, anticipating, correctly, that Republicans would compare and contrast the Reagan memorial service with their imagined scenes of partisan rallying at the Wellstone memorial. As I wrote then,
There were eight speakers in all, besides George Latimer, the former mayor of St. Paul who acted as MC. Iowa's Tom Harkin was the only elected official to speak; the rest were friends and family of the victims. One of them, whom Wellstone described as "there is no one person outside of my family that I admire and love so much" Rick Kahn, ended his eulogy with an impassioned plea to carry on the legacy of Paul Wellstone, and to "win the election for Paul." That was the only political moment. A couple of minutes, tops, out of four hours of remembrance, where things got a little partisan.

But that didn't stop those with an agenda from lying. Immediately after the memorail, Coleman's campaign manager Vin Weber was in front of cameras to denounce the whole thing as "a political event [. . .] a complete, total, absolute sham." And of course Limbaugh was on the air the next day blubbering about it. And the TV pundits, too. Everyone seemed to take that one small slice at the end of Kahn's speech and extrapolate to believe that moment was representative of the whole event. And boy were they indignant.

Their claims ranged from Trent Lott getting booed by the whole audience (there was a smattering of boos, but he smiled and waved) to the whole event's being scripted, including telling the audience when to applaud and jeer (evidenced by the words on the Jumbotron--you know, the closed captioning that was there for the deaf). They claimed Republicans who wanted to speak were shouted down by the partisan crowd--but the only people on the schedule were the ones delivering the eulogies; there was no open mic. And more.
Al Franken, a partisan, yes, but also a friend of Wellstone and someone who was at the memorial, has since written an account of that service for the Huffington Post, which is worth a read.

McIlheran's sin of lying about the Wellstone memorial is complicated by the fact that he doesn't seem to care that some of us have genuine emotions about the Foley scandal not prompted by partisan glee. As I said earlier this week, I teach high school students, boys and girls of the same age as the pages Foley was emailing and IMing. It is revolting to me, literally nauseating, to believe that anyone could have looked at even the "overly friendly" emails that surfaced first last week and decide that there was nothing wrong or creepy or worth investigating about them. For me, this isn't (just) about getting the Republicans; this is about the instinct I have cultivated my entire professional career to protect these children.

Patrick McIlheran is a parent. If he cannot find the same sense of moral outrage within himself . . . Well, I don't want to even think about it.

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