ABC’s RatherGate?

Even though I was blogging at 6:30, Michelle Malkin had already written an incredibly long post calling into question the provenance of the memo, first reported ABC News’ Linda Douglass, showing that Congressional Republicans were using the Terri Schiavo legislation for political purposes. John Hinderaker, Josh Claybourne, and Patrick Hines have more.

The actual origin of the memo will likely come out soon enough, especially with the blogospheric attention it’ll receive. Still, not to get too Dan Rather here, the essence of the memo is true even if it was forged. That is, there’s no doubt that the Republican leadership in Congress is using the Schiavo case as a political wedge issue. (And, for that matter, so are the Democrats.) That’s not the same thing, by the way, as saying that they don’t honestly believe allowing her feeding tube to be removed is wrong or that they don’t genuinely care about her fate, as I’ve argued previously. But everything is politics the world of politics.

Update (Apr. 7): Senator Martinez̢۪ Office Source of Schiavo Memo

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Media,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. slickdpdx says:

    I’m not seeing the big issue here. Even assuming the memo is fake (which seems doubtful), its accurate. So what if some legislators try to persuade other legislators to back their position, isn’t that what politics is about? Going after the memo as fake, supports the idea that the discussion of issues raised in the memo is somehow improper when they are not. I think most people think such a memo is not a big deal. Its just news reporters trying to undermine what they recognioze is the more sympathetic position in the dispute. They want us to see who is on which side and respond accordingly, rather than consider the particular issue.

  2. Well, everything is either politics to begin with, or becomes politics as the issue progresses.

  3. LJD says:

    “Even assuming the memo is fake (which seems doubtful), its accurate”

    OR

    Even assuming the memo is accurate (which seems doubtful), it’s fake.

    “Going after the memo as fake, supports the idea that the discussion of issues raised in the memo is somehow improper when they are not.”

    Since we’re on the subject of the election, then what’s the problem with the Swift Boat Vets, and why didn’t Kerry release his full military record? What’s the problem with discussing those “issues”?

  4. Kappiy says:

    It seems clear that Michael Schiavo has bugged or broken into Karl Rove’s office to get the info contained in that memo.

  5. JW says:

    The “big issue” here is the tendency of the MSM to print controversial stories citing documents whose provenance they then refuse to disclose, citing the First Amendment/shield laws/confidentiality concerns. That tendency was exploited by whoever produced the disputed TANG memos of Rathergate, as well as by political operatives since at least the time of Richard Nixon’s “plumbers”.

    Journalists (of which I am one) are far too quick nowadays to hide behind the confidentiality defense, which has impacted several stories of the past year, including The Plame Affair and Rathergate. Does the focus on the authenticity shift the story from the alleged crassness of the Republicans? Yes. Is that why conservative bloggers are investigating it? I don’t think so.

    I think there’s a sentiment that if as a news organization, you’re going to market the memo as evidence of how eeeeevil Republicans are to put such crass sentiments in writing and how stupid they are to pass it out to everyone on Capitol Hill, you’d damn sure better know who prepared it and how, even if you don’t choose to reveal that information to the public. ABC has admitted they don’t know who originated it–they just know who gave them a copy and won’t even reveal that information. Stupid, stupid, stupid. When I do a story, even if I don’t print the answer to a question my editor may have about the story, I KNOW the answer to it and can defend leaving that information out.

  6. slickdpdx says:

    I wish I had previewed my comment, especially since it ended up being so controversial. I will never go first again! If I do, I will proofread.

    #1. Fake but accurate – a joke! I will bet you right now though, that the memo is real but is not what the MSM is pretending it is (i.e. a secret policy memo ciruclated by a few in the know & obtained by an intrepid whistleblower or clever muckraker.)
    #2. There are a few different angles to this thing. I agree that the reporting is slanted. A memo like this is a big yawn as far as I’m concerned. So what if a party realizes its opponent is weak and chooses to use an issue to attack? Why cover it this way? One reason is, rather than encouraging or engaging in real thinking about some difficult issues, they’d like to emphasize opposition to the evil Republicans and make it a partisan issue. Another reason is because “uncovering secret memos” makes it sound like the journalist is on to something sensational. It sells news and it excites the journalist. That’s likely a big part of why s/he went into journalism!

  7. Rod Stanton says:

    The MSM has been anti_American for decades. They will broadcast anything that defames America no matter how flakey the source. They got burned in Rathergate and Jordongate but they still hate America and – to their credit- will no give up the fight.

  8. Jo macDougal says:

    The MSM hates America. They will lie if need be to defame America. This is not news. It has been know by thinking people for 50 years.

  9. J. B. GRILLO says:

    THE NOTE WAS UNSIGNED ALTHOUGH CIRCULATED BY REPUBLICANS—WHO DID NOT, AS I CAREFULLY WATCHED THE VOTE COUNTING ON CSPAN, RUSH TO THE PODIUM AND DENOUNCE IT AS A FRAUD. ALL SOME SAID WHEN ASKED WAS THEY “DIDN’T KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM.” PLAUSIBLE DENIABLITY. I LOVE IT. AND NOW THEIR FRIENDLY BLOGS CAN STIR UP QUESTIONS.

    BY THE WAY, A REPUBLICAN GAVE THE NOTE TO A DEMOCRAT WHO THEN GAVE IT TO THE PRESS. NICE HOW THOSE GUYS KEEP THEIR DIRTY HANDS CLEAN.

  10. Howard Carter says:

    Terri died this morning, March 31, 2005. Life is precious to some, not to others. Mostly, life is precious only if it belongs to you, your life.