There’s an exclusive interview with Fred! Thompson at Breitbart.tv.
Bud Cummins Sheds Further Light on The L.A. Times’s Mischaracterization of His Views Regarding His Firing
In response to an e-mail from me, Bud Cummins, one of the fired U.S. Attorneys, has written me to shed further light on the L.A. Times‘s mischaracterization of a statement he made concerning his firing.
On March 17, I noted that Cummins had directly contradicted the major premise of an L.A. Times article published about him, in an e-mail to TPMmuckraker. L.A. Times reporter Richard Serrano had written an entire article around a single premise:
Still uncertain exactly why he was fired, former U.S. Atty. H.E. “Bud” Cummins III wonders whether it had something to do with the probe he opened into alleged corruption by Republican officials in Missouri amid a Senate race there that was promising to be a nail-biter.
The story was based on a single quote from Cummins: “Now I keep asking myself: ‘What about the Blunt deal?’” (Matt Blunt was the Missouri Governor, and the L.A. Times asserted that the investigation was connected to him — something Cummins later denied.)
In his e-mail to TPMmuckraker, Cummins disputed that he had asked himself any such thing:
I do not know of any connection whatsoever to the Missouri investigation and my firing. I am not asking myself (or anyone else) about that.
He also said this should have been clear from context:
Unfortunately, that isn’t what I said, or at least what I intended to say, and it is not the case.
The context of my conversation with LA Times reporter Richard Serrano was clearly that I do not know of ANY connection between the Missouri investigation (which actually had nothing to do with Governor Blunt) and my termination.
I wrote the paper’s Readers’ Representative seeking a correction or clarification. She responded:
As The Times story said, Cummins “wonders whether it had something to do with the probe he opened into alleged corruption by Republican officials in Missouri.” . . . According to what you sent, Cummins said that he didn’t “intend” to say something in a certain way; he didn’t, as seems to be your interpretation, “deny the central premise” of the Times story.
I strongly disagree. That is exactly what Mr. Cummins did. The paper said he had wondered aloud about a possible connection, and he said in his TPMmuckraker e-mail that he not wondered any such thing.
But in comments to my post about the paper’s refusal to correct the record, some commenters wondered whether Mr. Cummins had written the paper about this. I was curious about that, but had no way to contact him — until yesterday, when I saw an e-mail exchange between him and James Comey, in which Mr. Cummins’s e-mail address had been poorly redacted. I thought I could guess his e-mail addresss, and wrote him. In the extended entry is his response, which he authorized me to quote. I have bolded the parts that I think are relevant to the accuracy of the L.A. Times story:
James Comey testified yesterday and undercut the Bush Administration case that the fired U.S. attorneys were poor performers. Further details are available from Orin Kerr.
The L.A. Times asks: Will Fred Thompson’s racist role have political repercussions?
Ronald Reagan became president even though he worked with chimps in B movies.
Arnold Schwarzenegger played a murderous robot, and that didn’t keep him from becoming governor.
. . . “Law & Order” actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) . . . played a white supremacist, spewing anti-Semitic comments and fondling an autographed copy of “Mein Kampf” on a television drama 19 years ago.
The paper mulls over the meaning of this — and looks to conservative blogs!
His colleagues say that he was just an actor putting everything he had into playing the role of a charismatic racist, named Knox Pooley, in three episodes of CBS’ hit show “Wiseguy” in 1988. “Do you call Tom Cruise a killer because he played one in a movie?” asked show creator and writer Stephen J. Cannell.
But in the age of YouTube, this performance could raise an intriguing political question: How does a performer eyeing a presidential run deal with a video history that can be downloaded, taken out of context, chopped into embarrassing pieces and then distributed endlessly though cyberspace? Some conservative political blogs are already considering the problem.
Which conservative blogs? I’m so glad you asked!
Some conservative websites are already discussing how a potential Thompson campaign may have to deal with these scenes. People who work out their politics on the Internet understand how potentially troublesome things like this can be. Like pebbles in a pond, you can’t know where the ripples are going to stop — or what the gullible or the mean-spirited may make of them.
One website called Patterico’s Pontifications asked the question recently: “How will they trash Fred Thompson?” Several respondents immediately mentioned the “Wiseguy” performance.
It’s not always true that fact-checking an L.A. Times article is as easy as accessing the search button on my web site. When I did that, I learned that the post in question garnered 38 comments — and Thompson’s “Wiseguy” character was not mentioned until comment #35, which said:
He played neo-nazi con-man “Dr.” Knox Pooley on a five episode arc of the TV show “Wiseguy”. His character gave a couple of speeches denouncing “mud people” and similar slurs which could easily be taken out of context and posted on You Tube.
That comment was quoted in the next comment (#36) which added:
That could work both ways. If he says something bad, he could always claim he was channeling the character …
And those two comments were the first and last mention of Thompson’s “Wiseguy” character.
That’s what the L.A. Times calls “[s]everal” commenters “immediately” mentioning Thompson’s “Wiseguy” performance.
I’m happy writer Tina Daunt has seen my website and saw fit to cite it in one of the paper’s articles. But next time, she should make the citation more accurate — even if doing so tends to undercut a storyline she is promoting.
UPDATE: I think some of y’all are being unfair to Ms. Daunt. I explain here.