Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Clap If You Believe in Mel 

Remember the Republican memo on how to get the most mileage out of poor brain-dead Terri Schiavo ("This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue. This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats")? -- And the subsequent furore in the right-wing blogosphere after John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker, hoping that lightning would strike twice, questioned the document's authenticity? Well, the memo, as it turns out, is legit, and its author has already walked the plank to spare his inadvertently complicit boss, who did not know squat about the provenance of the inadvertently-composed document when he inadvertently slipped it to Tom Harkin, any further inadvertence:
The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night.

Brian Darling, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said.

Martinez said he earlier had been assured by aides that his office had nothing to do with producing the memo. "I never did an investigation, as such," he said. "I just took it for granted that we wouldn't be that stupid. It was never my intention to in any way politicize this issue."

Martinez, a freshman who was secretary of housing and urban development for most of President Bush's first term, said he had not read the one-page memo. He said he inadvertently passed it to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who had worked with him on the issue. After that, other Senate aides gave the memo to reporters for ABC News and The Washington Post . . . .

In a statement issued last night, Martinez said that Harkin asked him for background information on the bill and that he gave him what he thought was a routine one-page staff memo on the legislation. "Unbeknownst to me, instead of my one page on the bill, I had given him a copy of the now infamous memo that at some point along the way came into my possession," the statement said.
UPDATE (4/7): The editorial page of the S.F. Chronicle must have been put to bed before the above story broke. No one told inveterate feces-flinger Debra Saunders that the fan had been turned on, and we are terribly sad to report that she wound up covered in her own product:
You remember the alleged GOP memo that talked up how the Schiavo story was "a great political issue" that would hurts the Dems and help the GOP with its "pro-life base." ABC's Web site dubbed it the "GOP Talking Points on Terri Schiavo."

It turns out, as the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported, "no one seems to know who wrote it." The Post's Mike Allen explained that the Post merely reported that the memo was "distributed to Republican senators," but he believed the document to be "authentic" and "used to attempt to influence Republican senators." How convenient that a memo, its authorship unknown, that misspelled Terri Schiavo's name, and that said things only a moron would be dumb enough to put on paper, made it into ABC's and the Washington Post's hands.

The kicker: A story that was supposed to be about the GOP running roughshod over a woman's end-of-life wishes isn't about her known wishes and isn't about the GOP, but about both parties . . . .

And the memo that was supposed to show how craven the GOP is instead shows how gullible the media can be.
The online version includes Ms. Saunders's belatedly-appended admission of her own "gullibility" -- the lesser charge to which most journalists cop when caught red-handed in the act of "mendacity."

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