Not much to add to this story, except for two things:
- The Hill should probably start telling its readers soon that Steve Scalise actually talked to a local residents’ association, and not a white supremacists’ group. Because the Hill’s readers are of the type that will hear about it anyway, and they might start wondering why the Hill hasn’t.
- …Rumormonger Gilda Reed lost by fifty points, huh? But didn’t want to use this story because of all the supposed racists in Steve Scalise’s district. It will shock precisely zero of you that Dr. Gilda Reed is an academic and Democratic agitator of long standing in Louisiana: she was last seen trying to save Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) from herself – unsuccessfully. She’s also demonstrating what I’d call a galloping case of the paranoid jitters if I was any sort of medical health care professional; but I’m not, so I’m just going to note that I’m pretty sure that the Louisiana Republican party probably doesn’t send operatives out to burn down people’s houses*.
Actually… let’s talk a bit more about the second point, for a moment. Or perhaps a bit ‘around’ the second point. Might be fruitful.
Come, I will conceal nothing from you: politicians and politicos and political hangers-on leak stuff to bloggers and other New Media types all the time. They’ll be happy to write the story for you, too – but if you just want to regurgitate the talking points, well, they will just live with that. Which is a judgmental way of saying that these people are a potential source for us; we just have to know how to use them properly.
Now, the original story as shopped to Cen Lamar (you can find a link to the story via the ‘burn down people’s houses’ link) had a great hook to it: an opposing-side politician with radical ties to a hate group. And no doubt Mr. Lamar felt gratified at the way that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), in what is rapidly becoming obvious as an excess of caution, hurriedly apologized for then-state Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaking with the Jefferson Heights Civic Association (which is the group he actually spoke to**). But what’s happening now is why you have to be careful. Because while I don’t know how well or ill this ends for Steve Scalise – although, judging by the carefully calibrated lack of calls for his head by Democrats, it probably won’t end ill for him at all – I do expect that it won’t end all that well for Mr. Lamar.
And it would have been the easiest thing in the world to get a warning flag on this story.
Source: I got a good one on a Republican Congressman!
Blogger: I’m always up for that. What do you have?
S: Turns out he was at a white power convention!
S: Yeah, I know, right?
B: Tell me you have video.
S: …Umm. No.
B: Dude! You gotta have a camera at these things! Everybody has them.
S: Well, it was from 2002.
B: OK, fair enough. What did the transcript of his speech say?
S: …There isn’t a transcript.
B: He gave a speech and there was no transcript? Wait, was he even a Congressman then?
S: State legislator.
B: OK, we can still work with it. But he was a speaker, right?
B: Was he on the program?
B: There’s going to be a program. :sigh: Is there at least a photo?
S: Well, no.
B: So how do you know that he was at this thing?
S: A guy told us! He said he had a photo. He never gave it to us.
B: Okaaay… How do I get in touch with this guy?
S: You can’t.
That’s when I would have made my excuses and exited, stage right. Because while I don’t mind taking a slap at the opposite side, neither would I want to be in the position of having to explain why I’m effectively the primary source for claiming that a prominent politician is speaking at white power conferences. Particularly since it’d be my fundament that would get burned in any backblast…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: Guess I had quite a bit to say about it, actually.
*Especially when the person in question is a guy who does political consulting for both Democrats and Republicans. Geez, Talking Points Memo, you’re the agitprop shop that’s been blessed with a research budget. Try spending some of it.
**Interesting note here: as Snope dryly points out, that ‘admission’ by Steve Scalise does not actually come out and say Oh, sure, I was there and talked to the white supremacists. It’s actually better crafted than people are giving Scalise credit for, in fact:
Throughout his career in public service, Mr. Scalise has spoken to hundreds of different groups with a broad range of viewpoints. In every case, he was building support for his policies, not the other way around. In 2002, he made himself available to anyone who wanted to hear his proposal to eliminate slush funds that wasted millions of taxpayer dollars as well as his opposition to a proposed tax increase on middle-class families. He has never been affiliated with the abhorrent group in question. The hate-fueled ignorance and intolerance that group projects is in stark contradiction to what Mr. Scalise believes and practices as a father, a husband, and a devoted Catholic.