Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Conservative Bloggers Taken for a Ride

So it turns out it was a Republican legislative aide who stole Senator Mark Miller's (D-Monona) binder and made copies of the Dem election plan that was inside.

These were the copies that were supposedly found by a GOP aide on the copier -- but now the GOP aide admits to making the copies himself.

Here are a couple key quotes from the Journal Sentinel article on the discovery back in October:
Keith Gilkes, executive director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, said Wednesday that an aide to a Republican senator found copies of the political plans in the copier early this summer after duplicates had been made.


Gilkes said the aide took copies that already had been made and handed them over to Gilkes in early June - five months before a key election in which Democrats hope to gain three seats to take over the Republican-controlled Senate.
And now that the truth has come out, here's the new line from Gilkes: "Gilkes said Monday that he did not intend to mislead anyone. He said when he talked to O'Brien this summer it seemed clear the copies already had been made."

I mean, really, who clarifies their facts before going to the press these days?

(Side-Note: The fact that the GOP declined to pursue the case that the Dems used state resources for campaign purposes -- which some high ranking Republicans were recently convicted for doing -- suggests that Gilkes and others knew at the time those documents weren't found on a state capitol copier.)

The GOP also tried to claim these documents showed illegal activity beyond simply using state resources for campaign purposes. But it didn't take Elections Board lawyer George Dunst more than a glance to determine that the activities outlined in the document were legal. And it only took the Elections Board as a whole another week to issue the same opinion.

What's most astonishing to me, though, is the way the GOP not only fed the mainstream press a line about this incident, but also fed the same bogus line to its own bloggers.

Indeed, it was the blogosphere, specifically "Boots and Sabers," that first broke the story that the GOP had the documents.

It appears based on Owen's writing that he was being fed the documents and background on them in installments.

At first he writes: "IF this was actually left on a copier in the state capitol, as it was reported to me, then one must ask why the State Senate Dems are using taxpayer equipment for what is clearly campaign related material. If true, that would be a campaign violation for which some have gone to jail."

But in the second update, he clarifies the guilt: "I have a little bit of information on WHY it was left on a copier in the capital. Allegedly, the Dems are running a caucus out of the building again, but they aren’t calling it that. If you go to the south end of the ground floor by Cathy Stepp’s office, there is a door marked 'private.' Behind that door, there are two paid Dem media staffers (I believe on Robson’s payroll) whose job it is to work on media for the Dems. They’ve been there for about a year. Are there any reporters in Madison willing to knock on that door?"

And then in the eighth update, Owen laughs off the possibility that he was being fed a line by the GOP: "Apparently, the Dems are blaming the Republicans. Uh huh. BTW, Miller was the suspect that I mentioned in UPDATE3. I guess it was right since he is now trying to cover his arse."

But, to be honest, I can't blame Owen and others on the right side of the Cheddarsphere for buying into the lines they were being fed on this. After all, if I was sent something from a Dem legislator or legislative aide, I'd be apt to believe it.

My real interest is in why the GOP felt they could mislead their bloggers on this and how the right side of the Cheddarsphere will react (if at all) to being steered in the wrong direction.

Seems to me it's a case of the GOP suckering the bloggers into doing their dirty work. It's one thing when people know they're doing dirty work and still choose to do it. It's a completely other thing when they're tricked into doing it.

How will the right side of the Cheddarsphere respond?

UPDATE: You can read Owen's reaction to the news here, and the reaction from Peter -- who was also suckered by the line back in October -- here. And on the left, here's Jay's thoughts, here's Dave Diamond's thoughts, and here's Carrie Lynch's thoughts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet, and yet . . . nothing from Owen yet on this. Maybe he's busy getting his camera ready for another searing blog expose of what a cloakroom looks like.

December 05, 2006  

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