Yesterday, Roll Call released a cowardly and completely unsourced hit piece on Senator Ron Johnson, who dared to buck Senate Leadership earlier this year. Actually, I shouldn’t call it “completely unsourced,” as there are a few sources willing to go on the record in the piece; however, all those sources directly contradict Roll Call’s central thesis, which is that everyone in the GOP Senate caucus hates Ron Johnson and that he is about to fire his entire staff. Conveniently, literally everyone who made such a claim hid behind a mask of anonymity, so that we are unable to judge whether these anonymous sources might have axes to grind on behalf of themselves or their bosses, or whether they are even in a position to know the information they are feeding to Roll Call.
We wondered how long it would take for Senate leadership to punish Johnson for refusing to back down to Blunt’s challenge, and now apparently we know. In their typical cowardly fashion, they have sent anonymous and unknown aides running to the press, speaking on condition of anonymity, badmouthing pretty much everything Johnson has done. In what apparently passes for journalistic integrity, Roll Call saw fit to uncritically pass along this dreck even though everyone who was willing to actually go on the record in the story refuted these claims.
Maybe I just don’t really “get” how journalistic ethics are supposed to work, but if I were working on a story and all my sources refused to reveal their identity, whereas there were lots of people willing to go on the record to dispute the claims of my anonymous sources, I wouldn’t write the piece in such a way that assumes that the guys insisting on anonymity must be telling the truth. This would apply a fortiori if the anonymous leadership aides feeding me the information had a well-known reason to try to discredit the target of the piece. However, none of that stopped Roll Call from running this piece, which puts Johnson’s staff in the unenviable position of trying to refute a story that is based entirely on the alleged personal knowledge of unknown people.
Make no mistake, though, it is clear that this hit piece originated somewhere in the bowels of Senate GOP leadership. McConnell and his cronies continue to show absolutely no shame or decency when dealing with TEA Party challengers who actually have the gall to try to change the way business is done in the Senate. This is part of the reason that we at RedState can’t support any Senate candidate who won’t commit to ending McConnell’s reign as leader of the Senate GOP caucus. Conservatives who worked hard to achieve upset victories for conservative candidates in blue and purple states deserve better than to have their candidates anonymously trashed by the Senate ruling class with the enthusiastic complicity of the liberal gutless media.
The main thing Roll Call’s piece illustrates is that it’s time for change to come to the Senate, starting right at the top.