Patterico's Pontifications


Blog talk Radio on Weinergate…

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 11:24 pm

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

Listen to internet radio with Radio Stranahan on Blog Talk Radio

– Lee Stranahan

About Mediaite’s Explanation Of Their Fiasco

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 10:38 pm

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

Three days ago, I wrote the following…

I had reporters calling me all weekend to try and find Betty and Veronica. These are people from major press organizations with big resources behind them. No sign of Betty or Veronica. Tommy Christopher says he spoke to Betty’s Mom on the phone and did other things to confirm their identities and it would be a fatal career move to just lie about that, so it’s hard to believe that that’s what happened. On the other hand, nobody else has seen this proof as far as I know (perhaps Colby Hall, the managing editor?) and Tommy has been very belligerently defensive about his reporting. And again, reporters have put dozens of hours into searching records and knocking on door with no trace.

Tonight, The New York Times proved that these concerns I and a few others have had for nearly a week were correct – Mediaite is now admitting that they got the story wrong. Managing Editor Colby Hall writes…

Working with other reporters and sources, we have now determined that “Betty,” her mother, and “Veronica” created false identities, and are not at all who they claimed to be.

Except they aren’t really admitting they got it WRONG. Not wrong wrong.

After the story was published, a source close to the story expressed doubts about Betty and Veronica, as did Jennifer Preston in her research and reporting for a story for the NY Times.Christopher shared, off the record, the steps he had taken to verify their identities. Since then, both Preston and Christopher have been independently investigating these sources further.

“Without concrete proof, though,” Christopher says, “we had to proceed under the assumption that these people were who they said they were, and that compromising their identities represented a significant risk of harm.”

Well, wait a minute. A lot more people than that expressed doubts. I did it on the phone last Sunday with Tommy, who yelled at me for 20 minutes. And when I posted my piece three days ago, Tommy showed the same same open, honest attitude with me in private messages on Twitter as he did on the phone.

You want to see why Tommy got the story wrong? Hubris and unprofessionalism.

Lots cursing by Tommy, so it’s after the jump…


Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher Given Fake IDs

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 8:58 pm

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

The New York Times is reporting on a story I discussed a couple of days ago – the mystery surrounding ‘Betty and Veronica’ – with a stunning detail; apparently Mediaite reporter Tommy Christopher was given fake IDs by a woman claiming to be Betty’s mother…

One Twitter user the group observed seeking to interact with Mr. Weiner was called “Nikki Reid.” She started an online campaign to get Mr. Weiner to be her prom date at Hollywood High School in May, using the account @starchild111. Within days after Mr. Weiner started following her, a Twitter user, also using a fake name, Marianela Alicea, and pretending to be Nikki Reid’s classmate, contacted a member of the #bornfreecrew and said she had information about Mr. Weiner, but never provided any.

But there is no evidence that either girl exists. There is no Nikki Reid or Marianela Alicea enrolled at Hollywood High School. In response to requests from a reporter from the blog Mediaite, a woman claiming to be Nikki Reid’s mother provided documentation to substantiate her identity and her daughter’s identity. But records show the street address the woman provided does not list anyone named Reid as an occupant. State officials in California have confirmed that the driver’s license this woman provided to Mediaite was false, as well.

A friend on Twitter just told me..

Tommy has some serious explaining to do.. lecturing everyone while writing a story on 2 people who don’t exist (who he said were beyond question)

Hard to argue with that point

The New York Times piece has a fatal flaw; it gives the impression that these apparently fake people were trying to ‘set up’ Weiner. This fails to highlight a huge repercussion of this revelation – Tommy’s piece ran long statements from Betty / Nikki, Veronica / Maria and Betty / Nikki’s mom. These statements including emphatic defenses of Rep. Anthony Weiner. If all of these people are fake, then Tommy ran defenses of Weiner from fake people. Here’s an example from the ‘mom’.

When Rep Weiner followed my daughter the one and only message he sent her was welcoming her to his twitter followers and suggested he go to his website for more information. My husband and I were delighted with this message as it furthered our daughter’s interest in learning about government. We were very grateful to Rep Weiner for this and saw nothing wrong or inappropriate with this message.

This was the one and only message that Rep Weiner sent our daughter. Our daughter sent a message thanking Rep Weiner for following her and thanking him for the welcome message. This was the one and only message our daughter sent to Rep Weiner.

Soon after she was following Rep Weiner, a group of grown men and a few grown woman who described themselves as “concerned mothers” began harassing my daughter. I can assure you, as a mother, I’ve never heard of such disgusting behavior. My daughter, with our permission, responded to these attacks on Rep Weiner following her with grace and maturity – which is something that cannot be said for these “mothers” and their fellow grown men involved in the attack.

These mothers and their grown male friends attacked the intentions and character of Rep Weiner to our daughter and suggested that he was somehow perverse for following her. This disgusted myself and my husband. They were attacking a man, who has done nothing to them and has done nothing wrong.

That is not only pro-Weiner (and as we know now, patently false) but it also claims people in the #BornFree crew were harassing the (apparently fake) Betty and Veronica. But the New York Times piece continues the meme that the #BornFree crew were a bunch of nefarious conservatives out to get Anthony Weiner by any means necessary.

If Tommy Christopher’s sources aren’t real, then the #Bornfree crew are victims, not only of the Imposter but also of the New York Times and Mediaite.

ADDING: Let’s also remember another detail that’s come to light recently – Tommy told me on the phone several days ago that Betty / Veronica were trying to push a story on Tommy that Andrew Breitbart and Dana Loesch were attempting to force Betty / Veronica to lie about Rep. Weiner. Tommy didn’t run with this story, which had outrageous details but he didn’t report on the attempt to discredit Breitbart and Loesch, either.

If Betty / Veronica / Mom were an imposter, this makes this seem even more sinister. Apparently, a person or persons unknown was trying to discredit Breitbart & Loesch. Again, read the New York Times piece and it makes it seem as though Weiner is the intended victim here and makes no mention of the Breitbart / Loesch angle.

One other detail – apparently Tommy DID talk to a woman on the phone. That provides some starting point for uncovering this mystery.

At this point, Tommy REALLY needs to show his work and come clean. Putting the fake IDs up for other people to see would be a good idea, as well.

– Lee Stranahan

Rep. King Says Stage Set To Investigate Pigford…

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 2:49 pm

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

This press release just in from Rep. Steve King’s Office – and please take 10 seconds to sign the Petition.

Congressman King reacts to strong showing of Congressional disapproval for settlement program funding unresolved Pigford v. Vilsack claims

Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) released the following statement after 155 Members of Congress voted in favor of an amendment he offered to the Agriculture Appropriations bill in an attempt to block an additional $1.15 billion in spending allocated for the fraud-plagued Pigford II settlement program.

"The vote on my amendment revealed that 155 Members of Congress are prepared to join me in pulling the plug on funding for unresolved Pigford v. Vilsack claims because of the concerns that have been raised about widespread fraud," said King. "These concerns are well placed."

"How is it possible that Secretary Vilsack can identify 94,000  ‘victims’ of USDA discrimination against black farmers from a total universe of only 18,000 black farmers? The original USDA estimate predicted that 3,000 of 18,000 black farmers would file a discrimination claim. Now, Tom Vilsack and Eric Holder have taken it upon themselves to negotiate a $1.15 billion agreement in Pigford II with the anonymous representatives of a universe of anonymous claimants that has swelled to 94,000. When added to the tab of the Pigford I settlement, this new $1.15 billion agreement brings the total taxpayer funded Pigford payout to $2.3 billion."

"We do not have the list of all the attorneys who are collecting commissions as part of these settlements, but we do have video footage of one of them admitting that 10% of his clients are frauds. Despite this, Secretary Vilsack asserts there are only three cases of fraud in the 94,000 — yet the USDA has not identified, let alone disciplined, a single employee who discriminated against even one of these 94,000."

"We’ve all heard the expression ‘victimless crime’, but now we have ‘crimeless victims’ –- individuals who, without basis for a grievance, claim to be victims even though no one can be identified as having discriminated against them. In light of the strong showing of support for my effort to block funding for Pigford II, the House should now be prepared to initiate a Congressional investigation. The 155 votes my amendment received indicate that the stage has been set for this Congress to investigate Pigford II fraud fully."

And here’s King on the House Floor arguing for the amendment a couple of days ago…

– Lee Stranahan

They Shall Overcome (Update: 40 Women?)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:02 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: This article says it is only 40 women.  Here’s hoping it grows.

Today we have been seeing a protest in Saudi Arabia.  As you might know, women are not allowed to drive here, so a number of women have chosen today to protest it by defying the ban.  One thing that is unclear is just how many women are participating, but I am going to be optimistic about this.

From the BBC:

The direct action has been organised on social network sites, where women have been posting images and videos of themselves behind the wheel.

The Women2Drive Facebook page said the direct action would continue until a royal decree reversed the ban.

Last month, a woman was arrested after uploading a video of herself driving.

Manal al-Sherif was accused of “besmirching the kingdom’s reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion”, but was released after 10 days having promised not to drive again.

Campaigners have not called for a mass protest – which would be illegal – but have asked women who have foreign driving licences to drive themselves as they go about their daily life.

“All that we need is to run our errands without depending on drivers,” said one woman in the first film posted in the early hours of Friday morning.

The film showed the unnamed woman talking as she drove to a supermarket and parking.

“It is not out of love for driving or traffic or the experience. All this is about is that if I wanted to go to work, I can go. If I needed something I can go and get it.

“I think that society is ready to welcome us.”

Read the whole thing.  And the AFP has a nice video about it (except for some obvious editing flubs), here.  I like especially when I see men standing up with their wives.

And let me also recommend following Ahmed al Omran on twitter, at least for today, because he seems to be covering this well in that feed.

Let’s hope this protest is successful.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Sockpuppet Friday—The Batman’s Boner Edition!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:57 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sock puppetry in this thread. The usual rules apply.

Please, be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself, a lot.

And remember: the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.


And for this week’s Friday Frivolity, we have this series of panels from an apparently real Batman comic.  In it the Joker is trying to trick people into “boners,” which means in this case, “a clumsy or stupid mistake.”  Apparently the Batman comic comes from a more innocent time when if you said boner, that was what people thought you meant.  But the result is for modern readers is comedy gold.  Let me give you a taste, above the fold, but do hit the more button.  It’s worth it.


Breaking: Attempted Terrorist Attack in the Capital? (Update: AQ Literature and Bomb-Making Materials?) (Update: Device Not Workable?) (Update: ABC Video) (Update: Video on Suspect’s Identity)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:31 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update (VII): More video from ABC on the identity of the suspect and his background:

The one question that a person naturally asks is answered by James Taranto. Yes, he is a Muslim. Taranto has additional thoughts about the political correctness that keeps the news media from reporting that news, and you really should read the whole thing.

Update (VI): This ABC News report seems fairly current and verified:

Update (V): The reports are so contradictory right now, I am officially going to stop updating for a while and wait to see what shakes out.  But I will be watching it closely if only because I live in the area.

Update: You can watch a press conference, right now, here, on the incident.  But the spokesman doesn’t seem to know much, yet.  (H/t: Mary Katherine Ham).

Update (II): Now the link above seems to be showing live coverage, generally, from a local station.  (And they are saying they are not sure a device has actually been found.)

This morning they shut down all the roads around the Pentagon and an explanation is starting to trickle out.  First, from the WAPO’s Breaking News blog:

A person was taken into custody near the Pentagon after a suspicious device was found in a car, NBC News is reporting.

One or two other people fled the scene and police were searching for them, according to NBC.

An official told NBC News the device “looks like a bomb,” although it remained unclear what it was.

Roads remain closed around the Pentagon and Arlington County police said they are investigating a suspicious vehicle on Washington Boulevard.

You should read the whole thing, updates and all, but this one at 8:07 is creepy:

Channel 9 is reporting authorities are planning to do a controlled explosion of the suspicious vehicle.

That means it looks real and dangerous enough that they don’t want to try to disarm it, right?

Update (V): Now ABC news says the device might not have been workable.  So…  I think I am going to let the dust settle for a bit, and see what can be confirmed.

And this CBS/AP article is very obviously the product of on-the-fly editing,* but adds some detail:

CBS News chief national security correspondent David Martin reports the Department of Homeland Security has one person in custody who is suspected of planting suspicious devices around the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Memorial.

It remains unclear whether the vehicle in question belongs to the person in custody, but all the roads around the Pentagon have been closed and traffic is at a standstill, says Martin.

So this is a breaking news story and we can expect details to be murky and things to be just plain wrong.  Let’s not forget all the false reports we heard when Gabby Giffords was shot, not the least being the false report that she was dead.  But piecing things together we might be seeing a coordinated attack; or they are getting it massively wrong.  Expect more updates.

Update (III): If verified, this information, tweeted by Good Morning America, is troubling:

Just in: Man arrested at Arlington Cemetery near Pentagon w/backpack: ammonium nitrate, spent 9mm shells, Al Qaeda related statements inside[.]

Hmm…  (Further Update: Non-tweet link.)

Update (IV): See what I mean about being suspicious of early reports?  From the updated AP article:

The man was detained after the Park Police came across him over night in Arlington National Cemetery. The Park Police then launched a search for the man’s vehicle, which was found near the Pentagon, the Arlington police said.

Previously, the man was suspected of planting suspicious devices in the cemetery and at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The Arlington police did not confirm that report.

So that’s in the maybe column.  Stay tuned.


* I have been hard on the AP for editing their stories without issuing a correction in the past, but bluntly this situation falls squarely into their rule allowing for changing the article without a correction in the midst of a breaking news story.  So I expect that AP story to change, and that is in keeping with their rules.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

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