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"Wait And See"

In my career in blogging, I've learned a lot of useful rules and guidelines and principles that have kept me from making a lot of mistakes. Not that I haven't made my share of them, but there would have been a hell of a lot more had I not followed these ideas as well as I have.

The first is something that I thought I garnered from Little Green Footballs, but now can't seem to verify that. It's something called the "48 Hour Rule."

According to this rule, whenever a major news story breaks, something not immediately verifiable but still tremendously newsworthy, give it 48 hours or so to settle itself down, to work out its details, to let the flash fade and the substance to become clearer.

There's also an old aphorism that "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof."

Another is the notion that no story is "too good to verify." Indeed, the stories that need the most investigation and verification are the ones that most confirm your own beliefs and suspicions and biases.

A fourth is that blogging is -- at least for me -- rarely about the "scoop." I accepted a long time ago that I will almost never "break" a major story, and almost never rush to blog something to beat everyone else to publication. I think I've used the "Breaking News" category less than half a dozen times, and I'm closing in on 3,000 postings -- a truly minuscule percentage.

Instead, I try to find something new to add to a story or an issue. An angle others haven't tried, a correlation others haven't drawn, an opinion that is uniquely mine, couched in my own words. And that's worked out pretty damned well for me.

Over the last weekend, a story broke that set off all my alarms. It seemed that Fred Thompson, the former actor/senator and possible presidential candidate who is positioning himself as a "new Reagan," who is a staunch pro-lifer, had been a paid lobbyist for a pro-choice group.

At least, that's what the LA Times asserted.

The left side of the blogosphere erupted in paroxysms of glee. This was just the sort of thing they routinely wet themselves over -- hypocritical Republicans doing something that would royally piss off their "base."

One of those eruptions took place over on Wizbang Blue, where Larkin first commented on the story -- ending his piece with rather snide note:

This just proves that Thompson has no principles or core beliefs and can be bought and paid for just like the rest of the crooks in the Republican Party. Read it and weep Wizbangers!

I bit back my initial response and, instead, counseled caution. This story sounded "too good to be true," and I said the smartest thing to do would be to wait and see how it developed. At no point did I argue with a single allegation by the LA Times, but simply said that I wanted wait and see what else might come out before granting this story full credibility.

That was enough to set one commenter off, who assailed me repeatedly for... well, it was never that clear, but apparently my not immediately accepting the LA Times' story as pure gospel was the same as calling the whole thing a filthy lie and insisting that Thompson is a saint. Or something.

Now, a few days after the LA Times article, we have some rather interesting developments. A few people have poked holes in the account.

For example, one of the people interviewed by the Times gave a truly vivid detail, one that gave a bit of versimilitude to the account, was that during the 1991 meeting where Thompson agreed to lobby the first Bush White House on abortion, Thompson had re-enacted a "death scene" from a western he had acted in. However, a scrutiny of Thompson's acting career showed that he has only had two roles that MIGHT be considered "western" roles -- one in 1992, and one in 2006.

For another, the key meeting happened on September 14, 1991, where Thompson allegedly agreed to act as a lobbyist for the pro-choice group. But Captain Ed discovered that Thompson did not register as a lobbyist for foreign concerns until October 10, 1991 -- almost a month after that meeting. Considering that the law firm in question said that they brought Thompson on board specifically for his abilties as a lobbyist for foreign concerns, that puts a serious crimp in the timeline.

Finally, there is considerable evidence that the LA Times is not standing solidly behind their story. They have been caught going back and re-writing the story without noting the changes. The five interviewees have become "several," the death scene story has quietly vanished, and other portions of the original story have been reworked.

One that, in particular, caught my eye was the mention of "White House Chief Of Staff John E. Sununu." John E. Sununu is currently my junior senator, after serving in the House of Representatives; his father, John H. Sununu, had been George H. W. Bush's chief of staff after serving as New Hampshire's governor. A minor thing, but they made the mistake and corrected it without notice -- not a good sign for their integrity.

So, we have the LA Times publishing a huge blockbuster of a story, then quietly backing off elements of it -- not the "meat" of the story, but a lot of the supporting details. We have inconsistencies between official documents and the Times' timeline. And we have people who were alleged to be involved in the story loudly denouncing the substance of the LA Times' reporting.

In the end, though, what does it all add up to? Did some of these people from the pro-choice group realize that they had in their hands enough circumstantial evidence to put a major hurting on a leading pro-life Republican, and "fill in the blanks" with enough half-truths and outright fabrications to satisfy the LA Times, who were -- like Dan Rather and Mary Mapes over the Texas Air National Guard forgeries -- all to eager to accept a story that was "too good to verify?" Or did Thompson indeed sell set aside his principles at the time and cheerfully accept money to argue in favor of loosening federal laws and rules governing abortion?

A couple days later and I still don't know. 48 hours hasn't been enough, it seems. But as far as the other rules go:

The LA Times made an extraordinary claim, but so far their supporting evidence has been extraordinarily weak to challenges.

The LA Times apparently did NOT give the story anywhere near the heavy vetting it deserved, considering how thoroughly it confirmed their own biases ('hypocritical pro-life Republicans") and how big a story it was.

They wanted -- and got -- the "scoop." That's no big deal, though; that's just the kind of thing that newspapers should be after all the time.

Regardless on how the story turns out, the LA Times' conduct here is a textbook case of how NOT to handle a major story that could sink a leading presidential candidate.

Mary Mapes, however, would be so proud.


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Comments (40)

Even if it WAS true, who gi... (Below threshold)
Dirk:

Even if it WAS true, who gives a fark? Most people in DC would represent Satanic Cannibals if it meant money in their pocket. Ronald Reagan signed a pro-abortion law in California but nobody cared because it was a decade before.

IF it's true, I'd want Thom... (Below threshold)
goddessoftheclassroom:

IF it's true, I'd want Thompson to admit it and explain that his views have changed to what they are now. If his views haven't changed, so be it--as long as he's forthright about them.

I was pro-choice until the day I heard my first child's heartbeat and saw his sonogram. It's amazing what growing up does to one's positions.

The LA times is still in bu... (Below threshold)
steak111111:

The LA times is still in business? Who believes them?? I NEVER believe ANYthing that comes from liars because you never know [for sure] if they are not lying....

JT, it doesn't matter now i... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

JT, it doesn't matter now if the LA Slimes openly admits their errors. The lefties will now continue to quote the story as if it is gospel. That is how they operate. Slander, lies, distortions, the liberal way. Every once in a while a liberal will surprise me and admit that the story has some problems, but the trolls here would never do that. The way you can tell if the liberals are wrong is to see how many comment on this thread. Tick, tick, tick... ww

So will internet tough guy ... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

So will internet tough guy Jeff show up and continue to defend this questionable story???

Come on Jeff, get in the ring!

That the L A Times rushed t... (Below threshold)

That the L A Times rushed to press with their now all too familiar "Ready, Fire, Aim" policy for Republicans no longer has shock value for me.

What is astounding is their brazen editing with no public acknowledgement. A little snip here, a little snip there and before you know it the whole picture is cropped...Joe McCarthy?

The leftists know who to fe... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

The leftists know who to fear. They are scared. The "dirt" they have been able to gather on Thompson so far is singularly unimpressive.

>>>>

I like the auto-preview thing.

Is 'Michael Finnegan' Jason... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Is 'Michael Finnegan' Jason Blair's new nom de plume ?

When a conservative tries t... (Below threshold)
Brian The Adequate:

When a conservative tries to convince voters not to vote for a liberal, they try to make the case that the liberal is more liberal than the image they are projecting.

The amusing thing is that when liberals try to stop a conservative candidate, they also paint them as more liberal.

HAH! So true Brian, so true... (Below threshold)
D-Hoggs:

HAH! So true Brian, so true!

So to sum this up....... (Below threshold)
Paul:

So to sum this up....

Larkin got his ass handed to him. One of the Blue commenters proved himself to be a moron and the LA Times made shit up to attack a Republican.

Now I know why you don't use that "Breaking News" tag too often. -- lol

Don't worry about Thompson ... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

Don't worry about Thompson -- the Democrats and the MSM have decided that he should be the Republican nominee -- so he will be.

"JT, it doesn't matter now ... (Below threshold)
RobLACal.:

"JT, it doesn't matter now if the LA Slimes openly admits their errors. The lefties will now continue to quote the story as if it is gospel. That is how they operate. Slander, lies, distortions, the liberal way."

"What is astounding is their brazen editing with no public acknowledgment. A little snip here, a little snip there and before you know it the whole picture is cropped...Joe McCarthy?"


LOL, This my friends is what makes the criminal democrats the party of perpetual fraud. Oh please come all ye leftycoms and defend yourselves. That's right, you are a part of this fraud too. What's the matter, afraid of a little "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY"?

Of course they are , they are democrats.

"When you say we've lost in Iraq, I don't think you understand the effect of your words."

"To be brief, your words are killing us."

""Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged."

President Abraham Lincoln"


So what is the point "Jay T... (Below threshold)
mikeVA:

So what is the point "Jay Tea"?! I went through multiple paragraphs and you still hadn't sad what the topic was!

All, I got was the lessons you learned! blah, blah. You and majority of the "blogsphere" need a seminar or something so at least can reach some semblance of style clarity and grace. In fact buy that book with that name, and never write again until you get some.

'So what happens is that an... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

'So what happens is that anything potentially negative, however truthful, about Thompson in the media can be regarded as "bias," . . . '

http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/07/08/face-the-snark-face-the-fred/

Guess you didn't wait long ... (Below threshold)
Gator Country:

Guess you didn't wait long enough and find out that Thompson went to the law firm that they said they hired during this time frame and all the witnesses to Fred came from.

The only thing changed was the cowboy scene but then why let facts said in the way. His denial was idiotic at best about the flies.

Thompson is no more a down home country boy then most of us. Spending 18 years lobbying in DC, being an actor, and 8 years in the Senate makes him nothing but an actor when he puts on the good old boy routine and all of you fall for it.

Ask the Hollywood people and they will tell you they don't see the good old boy when Fred attends functions. Problem with an actor is that you cannot tell when the acting is the real person.

Amazing how you all are swallowing the koolaid of Rove and company to support the empty suit. Just amazing!

Dems are leaping for joy with all of you going to Thompson because Hillary will spit him out in a heartbeat in a debate. Oh wait, is he going to avoid debates with her as well if he wins because he sure doesn't want to debate Republicans.

"Thompson is no more a down... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

"Thompson is no more a down home country boy"

That's not what his spokesman, his publicist, his stylist, his agent, his manager, or his wife says!

Hey, Gator. Did ya perhaps ... (Below threshold)
C-C-G Author Profile Page:

Hey, Gator. Did ya perhaps notice that every single person that is pushing this story has a reason to want to damage Fred?

If a single person who has a reason to support Fred came forward and corroborated this story, it would have a lot more credibility.

Also, where are the billing records? If Fred did any actual work for this client (as opposed to offering water-cooler advice to a co-worker who may have been working on this), it will appear in the billing records.

In fact, the absence of any billing records is the most telling part of this, IMHO. I can create meeting minutes that show that I was at a Republicans for Kerry meeting in 2003. In Cambodia. At Christmas time. And they'd be fake (the Republicans for Kerry meeting was in North Vietnam that year--oh, and I've never been outside the continental US, and never once attended a Republicans for Kerry meeting). Meeting minutes don't mean squat, in other words.

Just another attempted hit piece that is slowly falling apart.

However, it appears that one thing is clear: the leftymedia thinks Fred is a danger to their worldview. And that gives me great joy.

Trackbacked by The Thunder ... (Below threshold)

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/10/2007
A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

gator said:"Dem... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

gator said:

"Dems are leaping for joy with all of you going to Thompson because Hillary will spit him out in a heartbeat in a debate."

Get ready to eat crow boy - provided Hillary has the guts to face him.

Never mind. Even when Thompson mops the floor with Hillary, the wacky left will declare her the winner. This is the benefit of living in an alternate reality.

I'm still trying to figure ... (Below threshold)
meep:

I'm still trying to figure out why pro-lifers are supposed to care about this story, especially the ones who had started out pro-choice themselves (many, such as me, went this route).

If he's lying about it, then that's a little more of a story, but then I, too, would love to see the billing records if he actually did some lobbying for them.

Let's ask Hillary where the... (Below threshold)

Let's ask Hillary where the billing records are.

Hillary will spit ... (Below threshold)
Hillary will spit him out in a heartbeat in a debate.

All this time and Hillary still hasn't learned how to swallow?

Problem with an actor is that you cannot tell when the acting is the real person.

Right Gatorbait, Reagan certainly had this problem getting elected for two terms.

Jay, not to be snarky, but ... (Below threshold)
David Author Profile Page:

Jay, not to be snarky, but you must not have tried searching LGF very hard. I went over, used the Search LGF box (upper right)and found 20 hits in the last month. Then I picked a random month (Aug. 10th to Sept. 10th 2005) and found 18 hits. Search the several months before you started bloging and I suspect you will get some hits.

Almost three hours since I ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Almost three hours since I said most of the trolls on this site won't even comment and they didn't. But in about two weeks, they will start quoting this story as fact and stand by it. If is their MO. It must be so confusing living in a liberals skin. ww

"Don't worry about Thompson... (Below threshold)
RobLACal.:

"Don't worry about Thompson -- the Democrats and the MSM have decided that he should be the Republican nominee -- so he will be."


Posted by Adrian Browne |

Translation..... I've not received my talking points and I just soiled myself , got to go!

Hey stupid , nobody needs the permission from the democrat criminals nor their blow monkey media. Go back to sleep to that place where you think you matter.

"That's not what his spokes... (Below threshold)
RobLACal.:

"That's not what his spokesman, his publicist, his stylist, his agent, his manager, or his wife says!"

This would have much more credibility if it read , the following have all been raped by BJ Clinton. Ya the PIG herself included, loudest squealer of them all.

Of course this story is tru... (Below threshold)
John:

Of course this story is true. The rather silly attempt to claim that the LAT is backing off it's claims which they are not, and advancing as evidence that Thompson didn't register as a lobbyist for foreign interest until, wow, a month later really demonstrates the desperation of this piece. Given that he was a lobbyist for fifteen years I'm sure some other clients he won't want to know are going to come out of the woodwork. Mind you Giuliani's client list isn't that fragrant either. Although he has not yet declared this looks more and more like a two horse race between Thompson and Giuliani but I would have thought that Thompson is unlikely to get the nod. I'm sure Hillco are rubbing their hands at the prospect of Hillary versus the quintessential fat old man. Rudy looks increasingly like the candidate, but he's got so much baggage he could get derailed.

Does it even matter? It's ... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:

Does it even matter? It's the accusations that matter... if it sounds true, it's good enough!

Well, that's what seems to happen these days.

If Hillary wins the nominat... (Below threshold)
Dirk:

If Hillary wins the nomination, half the Nutroots stays home or writes in Paul Wellstone. Believe me, I'm not worried.

DirkIf Hilla... (Below threshold)

Dirk

If Hillary wins the nomination, half the Nutroots stays home or writes in Paul Wellstone. Believe me, I'm not worried.

That would be an interesting topic to discuss here. I wonder if Jay would serve it up?
All the talk about Hillary's negatives has focused on the Republicans, but I think you're right: she has big negatives in her own party.

I am conservative and I wan... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I am conservative and I want Hillary to win her party's nomination. If will energize the base of the republicans and draw the independents to us or they will stay home. ww

I'm still waiting and seein... (Below threshold)
jp2:

I'm still waiting and seeing about a certain family values senator who used prostitutes for a year.

Too good to be true?

mikeVA:So what... (Below threshold)
marc:

mikeVA:

So what is the point "Jay Tea"?! I went through multiple paragraphs and you still hadn't sad [sic] what the topic was!

Maybe, on the other hand reading comprehension 101 is most probably available at your local community college.

Gator Country:

Guess you didn't wait long enough and find out that Thompson went to the law firm that they said they hired during this time frame and all the witnesses to Fred came from.

This was a non-story prior to publication.

Thompson was/is a lawyer. He was hired to represent someone.

Tell me where in the ethics code covering lawyers he/she must match the personal beliefs of those that hire him/her?

Better yet someone give me definitive proof Thompson held the same beliefs as his client did on this case.

And, oh bTW... who frickin' cares beside the LAT and a few looking for a gotcha moment.

jp2:I'm still ... (Below threshold)
marc:

jp2:

I'm still waiting and seeing about a certain family values senator who used prostitutes for a year.

Why, his self mea culpa is already in the news.

The rest of us are waiting for you to comment with something relative to the posts topic.

And BTW, take heed of JT's cited 48 hour rule. Your cheap shot and sorry attempt to drag the thread off topic may be followed by a few dems being unmasked as clients.

Idiot.

Marc: I'm sure if a Dem is ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Marc: I'm sure if a Dem is exposed, it will be covered here. Wizbang only covers/comments on news it likes.

And if the news isn't there, they make it up. (like Jay Tea's Harry Reid piece)

jp2... and STILL no comment... (Below threshold)
marc:

jp2... and STILL no comment on the threads topic.

I sure "if a Dem is exposed" you will be hiding under a desk, to use a phrase borrowed from someone that would froth your mouth and over-flow your drool cup.

Jay Tea,You have i... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea,

You have it totally wrong. You can always run with the "breaking" story angle when the LAT has a blockbuster,you simply headline it as such,"L.A. Times Makes up 'BIG Story',Again". If you did that, you'd likely not be wrong more than a half dozen times out of six thousand,I would calculate.(does that qualify as a different angle?)

Wizbang only cover... (Below threshold)
C-C-G Author Profile Page:
Wizbang only covers/comments on news it likes.

The same could be said of WizBlue, or Kos, or any other blog.

So what's your point, other than that you're incapable of intelligent thought, jp2?

jp2 is just mad that he can... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

jp2 is just mad that he cannot get himself a "ho". snicker snort




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