Patterico's Pontifications

3/14/2013

I Ask Again: When the Washington Post Whitewashed the Menendez Scandal, Was That Rathergate II?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:39 pm

On March 7, I wrote a post titled Is the Washington Post Story on Menendez Rathergate II? The post criticized “the flawed Washington Post story purporting to debunk the Daily Caller pieces on Menendez.” In the post, I said: “We can’t lose sight of this: it could be the next Rathergate.”

Tonight, I am feeling rather prescient. Tonight, the question arises: are we possibly looking at one of the most embarrassing moments in journalism in years?

Those who have followed the Menendez story will recall the WaPo story in question. Carol Leonnig and Ernesto Londoño breathlessly reported that they had found one of the hookers interviewed by the Caller, who said she had made up the story about having sex with Menendez in the Dominican Republic.

The article repeatedly referred to “affidavits obtained by The Washington Post.” Remember that fact: it will become important.

The WaPo story had a giant pile of journalistic flaws. They had the wrong hooker: the person they talked to had never talked to the Caller. Worse, the paper stealth-corrected that mistake without acknowledging error. Even worse, the paper had claimed to contact Tucker Carlson before publication, but he says they lied.

All bad enough! But the potentially Rathergate-ish aspect of the story emerged when a Twitter user said he had found the curious affidavit that the paper had apparently used as a linchpin of their story. As I said on March 7:

[T]he affidavit they relied on? I’m just saying, that thing seems suspect.

Somehow I think we haven’t heard the last of this story. Keep it in the forefront of your mind.

In comments to the post, a commenter said: “It’s not Rathergate, because there are no forged documents involved, detectable by clever analysis.” To which I replied:

Are you quite sure of that?

He said with a small but confident smile.

Always trust content from Patterico.

Tonight, the Daily Caller reports some verrrrry questionable aspects of that affidavit. The information comes rather deep in an item that confirms a Washington Post story that ran earlier tonight, revealing that there is a grand jury investigation into Menendez. That’s news, I guess, but to me the interesting stuff comes way down in paragraph 11, where the Caller tells us:

TheDC has been unable to confirm that the woman, who gave her name in the affidavit as Nexis de los Santos Santana, actually exists. She did not attend the March 4 press conference where the affidavit was first presented.

In the affidavit, Nexis de los Santos Santana’s voter ID number — what Dominicans call a cedula — was presented as an 11-digit number. Dominican cedulas have 12 digits.

Using the Dominican government’s online voter registration database to insert the digits 0 through 9 in each of the possible places where a digit may have been missing, TheDC was unable to identify any voters who reside in the Vista Catalina neighborhood of the city of La Romana — the area where the affidavit said de los Santana resides.

They’re not done. The mysteries continue:

In addition, the street on which she claimed to reside does not exist in any of more than a dozen maps TheDC has examined. Multiple sources on the ground in the Dominican Republic have been unable to locate that street, where the affidavit said de los Santos resides in a house with no number.

TheDC attempted to contact Miguel Galván, a Dominican attorney who filed his own affidavit alongside the de los Santos document and vouched for her with the Dominican press. A secretary at his office promised to call TheDC with a number where Galván could be reached, but she did not provide it. Upon hearing it was TheDC requesting the information, she replied only, “Ohhh.”

Hmmmmm.

Now, the Daily Caller is a Very Restrained and Reserved Organization, and so they’re not going to come right out and say the Washington Post got suckered, Dan Rather style.

But I don’t mind asking, with wide innocent eyes: it’s kind of looking that way, isn’t it?

UPDATE: By the way, it should be noted that even if the affidavit is a fake, that does not necessarily mean that the Daily Caller story is true. The debunking of the Daily Caller story could be, as the phrase goes, “fake but accurate.”

UPDATE x2: Twitchy.com raises some interesting questions about this whole thing, suggesting that perhaps the Caller did interview the woman that the WaPo interviewed, but that she used a different name. It would seem that the Caller would know, at a minimum, if the woman who calls herself “Michelle” in this Brian Ross report is the same “Michelle” the Caller interviewed. If it is, they should say so, no? (And if it isn’t, they should say so.)

None of this excuses taking an affidavit from “Nexis de los Santos Santana” as gospel, if it turns out to be fake. It does suggest that the whole thing is quite murky and deserves some light, no matter where that light points. Journalism must be about the truth, no matter what the truth reveals.

UPDATE x3: Final word on this for now: ABC News’s conclusion rests on two basic points: 1) the women’s stories seemed rehearsed, and 2) “A Dominican official familiar with the case” claims that the woman interviewed by ABC News (and presumably the Caller) is the same woman in the affidavit.

Point #1 is subjective. Point #2 sort of depends on the credibility of the “Dominican official familiar with the case,” doesn’t it? So who is that?

Ted Cruz at BlogBash

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:47 pm

Hard to believe a guy this awesome is a U.S. Senator.

The Big Cruz/Feinstein Blowup

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:54 pm

There is a classic scene from Seinfeld where Jerry shows up to a car rental place and tells them he has a reservation. They say they ran out of cars. He says: “But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation!” The haughty lady behind the counter says: “I know why we have reservations.” Jerry responds: “I don’t think you do. Because if you did, I’d have a car.”

It was hard not to think of this scene today as I watched the video of Ted Cruz cross examining Dianne Feinstein about her assault weapons ban.

Translation:

CRUZ: Let me explain the Constitution to you, Senator Feinstein. Among its other functions, the Constitution preserves the individual rights of the American people.

FEINSTEIN: I know why we have the Constitution, Senator Cruz.

CRUZ: I don’t think you do. Because if you did, you wouldn’t be proposing this ban.

[Studio audience laughs uproariously. Exeunt alles.]

Folks like Andrea Mitchell might watch this and declare DiFi the Winner Totally Awesome No Takebacks, but the California senator is clearly unmatched in discussing Constitutional law with Cruz. That’s why she makes such a production out of huffing and puffing about her experience and all the dead bodies she has seen and the like — because she knows if Cruz starts to debate her on the actual standards that apply, she’ll be as lost as Obama without a TelePrompTer.

With the help of her colleagues, DiFi finally stumbled and stammered their way into arguing: why, all Constitutional rights are limited! Yes, they are, but that doesn’t mean any regulation is A-OK. The issue is whether the conduct that Congress seeks to prohibit is the type of conduct that Americans would have understood to be covered when the Bill of Rights was passed. We declare certain speech outside the purview of the First Amendment, for example, because such speech (child porn, e.g.) does not serve the purpose of the First Amendment.

That doesn’t mean all new technology falls outside the Bill of Rights; the issue (expressed imprecisely) is whether conduct made possible by new technology serves the purpose of the Amendment that protects our rights. The First Amendment covers awesome methods of communication that the Founders could not have imagined, like the Internet.

Similarly, when it comes to new weapons technology, the issue is whether it fits within the purpose of the Second Amendment. Possession of a nuclear bomb does not in my judgment qualify as something the Founders would have found protected by the Second Amendment. Possession of assault weapons, in my view, would be — even though they weren’t yet invented. Why are assault weapons anything but a more effective method of carrying out the objectives of the Second Amendment?

This is the debate we should be having, but DiFi’s attitude appears to be that Constitutional law is for judges. We’ll pass what we want, because we have seen a lot of bodies and whatnot, and we’ll leave the yapping about the Constitution to the nerds in the black robes. Isn’t that what she’s saying?

Love that Ted Cruz. Keep getting under their skin, buddy.

Boston Globe: Give Obamacare Waiver to Massachusetts!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:48 am

Ted Cruz today tweets:

Indeed, the Boston Globe has suddenly learned that federal regulation of health care might not be the best idea in the world. A March 5 editorial titled Mass. needs an Obamacare waiver for small-business health plans begins with this complaint:

MASSACHUSETTS HAS made a concerted effort in the last few years to rein in health care costs for small businesses. But new federal regulations written to implement the Affordable Care Act threaten to undercut those efforts — and saddle thousands of Bay State businesses with big increases in premiums.

State law currently allows insurers to consider a range of factors that often reduce premiums for small firms. But under the new federal regulations, most of those rating factors will no longer be allowed. For example, insurers won’t be able to consider the risks inherent to the industry a company is in, or whether the company has a wellness program, or how many employees it has, or what percentage of them participate in its health plan. Those regulations will also end discounts for small businesses that have joined health-insurance-purchasing cooperatives. When the law allowing those cooperatives passed in 2010, Governor Patrick hailed it as an important step in addressing health care costs for small firms.

The overall result of those federal regulations is that small businesses with fewer industry risks, a proactive wellness approach, and (relatively) more employees will end up subsidizing companies that would otherwise be more expensive to insure. Because small businesses and individuals are merged into one pool as far as assessing risk, firms will also end up subsidizing the costs of coverage for people buying individual plans.

Yes, they will, Boston Globe editors. And for the people who crafted this legislation consider that a feature, not a bug.

The Boston Globe whines that Massachusetts should not have to suffer these consequences because Massachusetts had RomneyCare. But many of the problems they cite are issues that are going to be a problem for the entire country, not just for Massachusetts. Small businesses all over the country have wellness programs and other steps they take to minimize their risks and expenses, all to keep premiums low. All these businesses are going to get hit, not just the ones in Massachusetts. Bad one-size-fits-all federal regulation is bad everywhere. Instead of seeking a waiver, they should be seeking repeal.

As we come to see how destructive ObamaCare is, we come to see how waivers are yet another way to reward cronies. It’s no accident that the main recipients of the waivers are labor unions, as the Daily Caller reported in 2012:

Documents released in a classic Friday afternoon news dump show that labor unions representing 543,812 workers received waivers from President Barack Obama‘s signature legislation.

By contrast, private employers with a total of 69,813 employees, many of whom work for small businesses, were granted waivers.

Ted Cruz is right. It would be funny to say we all need waivers, every last one of us, but really, we need repeal — because waivers can be taken back, and are another weapon the government can hold over our heads.

Of course, repeal can’t possibly happen unless public opinion changes so drastically that Obama has no choice but to sign a repeal bill. Even then, as a lame duck, he might veto it. But it sure can’t hurt to talk about it.

BlogBash 2013

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:23 am

Today is BlogBash, which Ted Cruz will be attending, and which Rand Paul and the NRSC support:

(Protip, guys: try memorizing the lines before you say them. It’s only a couple of sentences at a time. You can do it. We can see your eyes moving as you read and it looks shifty. This advice will come in handy later.)

Stacy McCain has a piece about it here, in the American Spectator. The bad guys have tried to derail the event, and have predictably succeeded only in making it a hotter ticket:

In recent weeks, Kimberlin and his allies have attempted to shut down Blog Bash, contacting the venue and threatening protests against the event. If Kimberlin thought he could intimidate conservatives, he was sadly mistaken. Tickets to Blog Bash have become so highly coveted that many VIPs can’t get in, as the club’s president Ali Akbar pleads that fire-code capacity won’t allow any extra attendees. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made the guest list, as did 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and yesterday the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced that it was co-sponsoring the event — a rare gesture by the GOP establishment, reaching out to conservative bloggers who are often critical of the Republican Party leadership.

I choose to focus, not on the negatives of predictable efforts by soulless partisans to shut this down, but on the positive aspects. Bloggers will get to mingle with Ted Cruz, one of the brightest lights in the Senate, and meet each other, in many cases for the first time. It’s a great thing and I’m glad it’s happening.


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