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Over the course of the last few weeks a lot of ink has been spilled on twitter and other outlets with regard to the Mississippi GOP Senate run-off and subsequent allegations of voter irregularities. I reported the original allegations of massive vote buying for Cochran in the run-off election here at RedState with an audio interview with Rev. Fielder of Mississippi.
That same evening Charles C. Johnson, not to be confused with Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, launched his new site GotNews with a separate audio interview with Rev. Fielder which detailed the allegations further. Charles paid for the more detailed interview, which included pictures of text messages allegedly from Saleem Baird, a staffer for Sen. Wicker on loan to the Cochran campaign. The text messages added validity to the allegations made by Rev. Fielder, while posts by Patterico validated the claims of race baiting flyers and robocalls along with other oddities.
Since then there has been what appears to be a coordinated assault on Johnson’s credibility. The same political machine that had sat on the nursing home photo incident rather than report it to police immediately, the same political machine that crafted and pushed a narrative that the Tea Party is racist and McDaniel would come in the dead of night by the light of a burning cross for their food stamps, the same political machine that has made Mississippi one of the most disgusting displays of good old boy politics in recent memory, turned their efforts to Johnson.
Of course, many in this political machine are the same fools that foisted McCain and Romney upon the party, so if we are going to talk about credibility, that should definitely be noted.
I understand that Johnson has been boisterous on twitter and has violated one of the first rules of journalism by injecting himself into the story at every opportunity. I get that this is an automatic turn off for many. I even agree to an extent and let Charles know in multiple conversations. And while I still disagree with his tactics, in our conversations I can tell you that he isn’t going about this without a plan and some forethought.
Charles is also trying to build a new brand that will feature and fund his own efforts in journalism. I have to respect someone who is willing to step out of the comfort zone and let the chips fall where they may.
But as I said in the title, the story in Mississippi isn’t about Johnson, or at least it shouldn’t be.
The people who complain about what one reporter/journalist did rather than going out and doing their own journalism and reporting are a larger problem than any personality quirks that Johnson has put on display in his twitter feed. Especially when the same people have often focused more effort on their attacks on Johnson than on specific things he reported in conjunction with this Mississippi story.
Even taking into consideration the partial retraction by Rev. Feilder, I still don’t think that it’s a far-fetched idea that vote buying occurred. There’s plenty of circumstantial evidence to prove that it did, and eventually, in the courts, this will probably be proven.
In fact, the AP reported last night that McDaniel has asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to intervene and allow the campaign to see the non-redacted election voting records. Meanwhile, Shaun McCutcheon, who may sound familiar from McCutcheon v FEC, has jumped into the mix as well. Yesterday the Politico reported that McCutcheon has filed a complaint with the Mississippi Secretary of State which asks the state to investigate the allegations of fraud and other irregularities in addition to a refusal to “accept or otherwise act on the results” of the runoff until the investigation is complete.
These developments add a bit more credibility to the story, at least for those who can see fit to examine it objectively.
Regardless of what you think of Johnson, the claims of ad buys from the NSRC are damning when looked at in conjunction with the National Media ad buys for the outside groups that ran the most foul race bating messages. The All Citizens PAC is also incredibly shady from its failure to include required disclosures, to its failure to file proper documentation for IEs during the run-off election.
Add in the insane reimbursements to Amanda Shook, a Cochran campaign staffer, for campaign walkers, the staff shakeups and retention of individual legal representation, the FEC probe of the Cochran campaign, along with the GOP not yet having certified the vote while blocking McDaniel from viewing the rolls, and the dots don’t look all that disconnected.
Yes, people are using Johnson and point to his credibility to diminish the impact of the story, and this troubles me. That said, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there is a story here and it isn’t a bunch of kooks who believe there is enough smoke to reasonably suspect a fire.
We shouldn’t help the media ignore it, or the good old boy Mississippi/NRSC network to suppress it, by opening lamenting the credibility of a single reporter. Instead we should encourage more reporting from more conservatives within the movement who have enough credibility to be the messengers we want and need.
Charles has laid down the breadcrumbs for anyone interested in where it leads.
You don’t have to pretend that you like Charles C. Johnson, I just ask that everyone be aware that your dislike of Johnson shouldn’t impair your ability to judge the facts as they stand, or be used as a fig leaf by those who seek to make this scandal go away for their own benefit.