Who Is Behind The “GOP Talking Points” Memo?
The Washington Post reported:
"An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year. "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue."The New York Times chimed in with:
“White House officials insisted that politics played no part in the president's decision, even though Republican senators were provided with talking points, apparently by Republican aides, that characterized the Schiavo case as "a great political issue" that resonates with Christian conservatives.”Meanwhile Powerline, In the Agora, Fishkite and a number of other blogs began to question the source and authenticity of the memo. The almost identical language used in the "GOP talking points" memo and an earlier post on the Traditional Values Coalition website raised some red flags.
As we noted on Friday, this didn’t stop Frank Lautenberg's call for an investigation into the distribution of the memo:
"Those who would attempt to influence debate in the United States Senate should not hide behind anonymous pieces of paper," wrote Lautenberg. "In light of this troubling incident, I am writing to request that the Rules Committee conduct an investigation of the attached document, its source, and how it came to be distributed."In the Agora blogger gave Lautenberg’s office a call and reports:
“I've just spoken with Sen. Lautenberg's office which claims there is plenty of evidence to support Republican authorship, or those close to Republican leadership. Lautenberg's staffer specifically cited the numerous uses of Ted Bundy in Senate speeches as evidence that the talking points are genuinely Republican.”The Democrat’s echo chamber continued to reverberate with Newsweek's Eleanor Clift writing:
“The Republicans might want to rethink that memo of talking points they circulated last weekend about how intervening in the Terri Schiavo case is a “great political issue.”Clift repeated the same charges on the Sunday morning talk show the McLaughlin group.
Now we learn Senator Lautenberg may get his wish:
Very quietly, Senate Republican leadership aides to both Sen. Rick Santorum and Sen. Mitch McConnell, as well as the Senate Republican Policy Committee, have been using the Senate recess break to reconstruct the purported distribution of a document that media outlets, including ABC News, the New York Times and a number of regional newspapers, identified as Senate "GOP talking points" on the Terri Schiavo fight.Republican Senate staffers point to Nathan Ackerman, a member of Senator Harry Reid’s “war room” as the source of the memo. Now it all begins to come together when we recall this article from The Hill:
Republican leadership staffers now believe the document was generated out of the Democratic opposition research office set up recently by Sen. Harry Reid, and distributed to some Democratic Senate staffers claiming it was a GOP document, in the hope -- or more likely expectation -- that it would then be leaked by those Democrats to reporters. In fact, the New York Times stated that it was Democratic staffers who were distributing the "talking points" document.
Other Republican staffers blame not only Democrats but also the mainstream media which once again put out a story to embarrass Republicans before checking all the facts first.
Reid earned media attention around Washington when he created a communications “war room” to launch aggressive attacks on Republicans. “We will use every tool and innovative avenue available to us to get our message out,” he vowed in a November 2004 statement.Fred Barnes in his Op Ed piece: A Mystery Memo, Biased Reporting, and the Usual Suspects, writes:
An aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was arrested on the West Front of the Capitol for disorderly conduct during President Bush’s inaugural address last week.
The aide, Nathan Ackerman, is a television producer on the Senate Democratic Communications Committee — an organization that was folded into Reid’s new communications “war room.” Ackerman previously worked for ABC News in Los Angeles.
About 20 minutes into Bush’s speech, Ackerman, 36, and another man held up a sheet that said “No War.” According to a Capitol Police report, Ackerman and another suspect “were blocking the view of the audience and they were engaged in a verbal dispute with members of the audience.”
The report states that Capitol Police officers told Ackerman and the other suspect to relinquish the sign or be arrested but that “neither complied and both were placed under arrest.”
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist never saw it. Neither did the Senate Republican whip, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The number three Republican in the Senate, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, didn't get a copy. Nor did the senator with the closest relationship with President Bush, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. And the senator with the familiar Republican last name, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, didn't see it or read it. The same is true of Senator Mel Martinez, the rookie Republican from Florida.Clearly someone is not telling the truth in this saga. As the Left Coast blog said:
The only basis for blaming Republicans was the unsubstantiated allegation that the memo was spread among Republican senators. Yet no senator stepped forward and said, "Yes, I got that memo." Now consider what would have happened if a damning memo had been distributed to Democratic senators, saying the Schiavo issue could be used politically against Republicans. Would anyone in the mainstream media have jumped on it? I doubt it. Only right-wing bloggers would have.
So rather than an example of aggressive reporting, the memo story turns out to be yet another instance of crude liberal bias, in this case against both Republicans and those who fought to have Schiavo's feeding tube restored.
Naturally the memo had a second life when the story was picked up by other news outlets, pundits, and columnists. How did ABC and others get wind of the memo in the first place? It came from "Democratic aides," according to the New York Times, who "said it had been distributed to Senate Republicans." Not exactly a disinterested source.
“The task before liberals, Democrat or otherwise, is to find ways to convince the electorate to spot lies and reject the liars.”We couldn’t agree more. The leftie bloggers are catching on. Now if only the MSM would take this advice, maybe we'd be getting somewhere.
“That may not be as easy as it sounds. As a people, social science researcher Paul Eckman suggests, the evidence is "that most people do poorly in catching lies... ." One reason Eckman gives that I find convincing is, "we generally prefer not to catch liars, because a trusting rather than a suspicious stance enriches life, despite the possible costs." Another is that "we often want to be misled; we collude in the lie unwittingly because we have a stake in not knowing the truth."