|Will the right-wing bloggers now apologize for their snide wave-offs of the GOP memo (fully reproduced by onlineathens) crowing about the potential political bonanza represented by the Terri Schiavo tragedy, now that the memo has been traced back to an aide to brand new Florida Senator Mel Martinez?
Apologies can start with Powerline, who had this to say in March:
Not to be outdone, Michele Malkin said this:
We have written extensively about the fake "talking points memo" on the Schaivo case that ABC News and the Washington Post publicized, beginning on March 18. We have pointed out, most comprehensively in the Weekly Standard, that there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the memo originated with the Republicans, and considerable reason to think it may be a Democratic dirty trick.
Regarding the fishy Schiavo talking points memo, Washington Post reporter Mike Allen told Howard Kurtz that "we simply reported that the sheet of paper was distributed to Republican senators."...implying that somehow several papers and wire services had doctored the memo story to make the GOP leadership look bad...
Interestingly enough Martinez, along with PA first-string winger Rick Santorum had tried to pin the memo on an aide to Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Malkin plots a comeback today - saying Martinez "told the Washington Times he did not see the Schiavo memo until ABC News and the Post publicized it. But Sen. Tom Harkin told the Post that when Martinez handed him the memo, "[Martinez] said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here."
EYEWITNESSES? By Michelle Malkin · March 26, 2005 05:40 AM
Josh Claybourn of In the Agora reports a startling new development in the Schiavo "GOP Talking Points" memo story: On Friday four staffers of Senators Rick Santorum and Mel Martinez accused a renegade aide to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) of distributing forged "talking points" to members of the media and claiming Republican authorship. In the Agora's extensive investigations in the alleged "GOP" Schiavo talking points memo reveal possible tricks from low level Democratic aides. Two of the four GOP staffers tell ITA they were eyewitnesses to the exchange....
Four separate staffers, two apiece from two different conservative Republican
Senators, now report to In the Agora that a young renegade aide working for Sen. Harry Reid constructed the memo and then distributed it to members of the media.
Two of those staffers claim to be eyewitnesses to the exchange. ITA contacted Sen. Reid's office and was told the allegation was "laughable." None of the four GOP staffers would comment on whether Reid's aide acted on his own or from orders from superiors. Developing. . .
Here's the exact wording from WaPo:
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, officials gave the memo to reporters for ABC News and The Washington Post.
Harkin said in an interview that Martinez handed him the memo on the Senate floor, in hopes of gaining his support for the bill giving federal courts jurisdiction in the Florida case in an effort to restore the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube. "He said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here," Harkin said.
How could Sen. Martinez describe the contents of the memo if he had not seen it? And who is "we?"
Then there's Brian Darling, Martinez's legal counsel (until last night, when he resigned). According to the Post, Darling is taking the blame for authoring the Schiavo memo.
Readers of this site will recall that nearly two weeks ago Josh Claybourn of In the Agora received a false tip from four people, two of whom claimed to work for Sen. Martinez. (The other two claimed to work for Sen. Rick Santorum.) Claybourn's sources falsely stated that the Schiavo memo was authored and circulated by a young "renegade" aide working for Sen. Harry Reid. Two of Claybourn's sources stated that they saw the Reid aide passing out the memo.
A few days before Claybourn's story broke, the Prowler reported similar allegations, citing "Senate Republican leadership aides to both Sen. Rick Santorum and Sen. Mitch McConnell, as well as the Senate Republican Policy Committee."
Did Darling give a fake tip to Claybourn to try to divert attention from himself? If so, who were his co-conspirators? Who exactly spoke to the Prowler and from whom did the Prowler's sources get their information? To date, Claybourn has not responded to my suggestion that he divulge the phone numbers of his sources. Will he continue to play nicey-nice with his sources now that they have been shown to be manipulative, lying smear merchants?
The story's not over. Sen. Martinez and his former legal counsel may still have plenty of 'splainin' to do.
Indeed... and nice conspiracy theory, but as in most cases, the simplest explanation is usely the best: Mel Martinez' overzealous political shop screwed up. It wouldn't be the first time: during the Republican primary, Martinez ran a notorious smear campaign against his opponent, former Clinton impeachment manager Bill McCollum, accusing him of not being conservative enough for supporting stem cell research and a hate crimes bill (did I mention that Martinez is a one-time moderate, and GOP-boogeyman "trial lawyer"?), and calling McCollum "the new darling of the homosexual extremists," prompting the St. Petersburb Times to withdraw its endorsement of him.
So is this little snaffu so out of character for the Martinez camp?
I think not.