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Author Of Schiavo Memo Worked For Martinez

The mystery over who authored the Terri Schiavo "talking points memo," appears to have been solved. Mike Allen in The Washington Post reports:

The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night.

Brian Darling, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said.

Martinez said he earlier had been assured by aides that his office had nothing to do with producing the memo. "I never did an investigation, as such," he said. "I just took it for granted that we wouldn't be that stupid. It was never my intention to in any way politicize this issue."

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, other Senate aides gave the memo to reporters for ABC News and The Washington Post.

Martinez said Harkin called him about 5 p.m. yesterday and told him that the memo had come from his office. Martinez said he then called in his senior staff and said, "Something is wrong here." He said that Darling later confessed to John Little, Martinez's chief of staff, and that he said he did not think he had ever printed the memo.

"It was intended to be a working draft," Martinez said. "He doesn't really know how I got it."

The question of how the memo came to be widely distributed isn't exactly answered. Did Martinez pass it around willy-nilly or did Democratic Senate staffers seize the opportunity to score some political points by giving it to ABC and The Post? Regardless of the answer to that question, expect a victory lap from Howard Kurtz very soon.

Update: Powerline notes that the accounts of the reporting of the story still don't quite line up correctly.

Update 2: Apparently this is a big "in your face moment" for Democrats. Including this post, the topic of the Schiavo memo was discussed 3 times at Wizbang. The first time I endorsed a Democratic call for investigation, the second post highlighted stories elsewhere that media reports on who was passing the memo around changed early and often, with members of the Washington Post syndicate turning on each other.

Based on Wizbang's coverage, exactly what am I supposed to be embarrassed about?


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Author Of Schiavo Memo Worked For Martinez:

» WILLisms.com linked with Lessons From The Schiavo Memo Fiasco.

» Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog linked with Washington Post fingers Martinez counsel for memo.

» JackLewis.net linked with Around the Blogosphere

» ISOU linked with How's Lunch?

» ISOU linked with A Rational Voice from the Right

Comments (30)

Sigh, the explanation is la... (Below threshold)

Sigh, the explanation is laughably strained. NOT credible.

At least the GOP continues to call their own people to the carpet for their lapses. On this, they have a lot more credibility than the Dems. Martinez will take it in the shorts.

Damn liberal media.... (Below threshold)

Damn liberal media.

So one low level flunkly wr... (Below threshold)

So one low level flunkly wrote it. It was never endorsed or circulated to anyone. Why did the liberal media stonewall about it for so long? Except to perhaps make it look like more than it was?
Still the same old abc assholes.

Indeed Julie, as Leslie Nie... (Below threshold)

Indeed Julie, as Leslie Nielsen stood in front of a raging fire, he announced to the crowd through a bullhorn that there is "nothing to see here." Much wisdom can be found in the Naked Gun.

Indeed, I don't think anybo... (Below threshold)

Indeed, I don't think anybody comes out with much credit on this one.
The media reports it three to five different ways, including the claim that it was circulated by Republican leaders- which is rather an embellishment of the position of a single Freshman Senator.

The Republican who had it is a freshman senator who didn't know he had it (it was in his pocket!), and accidentally handed it to Tom Harkin when Harkin asked him for some info on the Schiavo bill. What did he think it was? How do these guys get elected?

The aid in question doesn't think he ever printed the memo? What kind of thought processes are gong on there?

Senator Tom Harkin told the Washington Times, through a spokesperson, that he had seen Republicans with the memo, but now it appears he'd only seen one Republican with it, and that REpublican had handed it to.... Senator Tom Harkin.

I'm not sure I believe any of these people.

Eh. The memo was pretty we... (Below threshold)

Eh. The memo was pretty weak stuff to be condemning someone for anyway, and Martinez more or less salvaged the party's reputation by firing the idiot who wrote it as soon as he figured out what happened.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, if it were something comparable on the Dimocraptic side, it would be either a. lied about, b. ignored, or c. false counter-accusations would be flying.

Once again the liberal/Rock... (Below threshold)
Rod Stanton:

Once again the liberal/Rockerfeller Repbulicans are leading the party to shame and disgrace. The conservative Danforth was right last week in his NYT op-ed. This is why the voters go Dem when they want big government. Big government Reps are duplicitous while big govt Dems are just usually duplicitous. It remains to be seen how much the MSM will us this to "prove" to the public that "conservative" Reps are in fact liberal. Of course they will not use those terms but the message will be there - as it was in 92.

Martinez, in his statement,... (Below threshold)

Martinez, in his statement, said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, had asked for background information on the bill ordering a federal court to review the Schiavo case. He said he pulled a one-page document from his coat pocket and handed to Harkin. "Unbeknownst to me ... I had given him a copy of the now infamous memo."

1. Hideous blunder by Marti... (Below threshold)

1. Hideous blunder by Martinez. You can't give a Kleenex to an opposition party member these days (even the upright Harkin) without looking at both sides of it first.

2. If you're Tom Harkin (not Hillary Clinton or Chuck Schumer), don't you read the memo, then go back to Martinez and say, "um, Mel -- I don't think you gave me the right fact sheet." Wellllllllllllll, that might be too much to ask.

There are some similarities here to the "scandal" involving the dem committee staff memos that were left in a public folder and exploited by republican staffers. Clearly, at some point someone realized he had something he shouldn't have had. The honorable thing to do was return it. But what's "honorable" mean in Washington any more?

I think there are still som... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I think there are still some weird holes here.

What I don't understand is how Harkin knew he was the Dem source of the memo hadn't come forward already, and I am trying to figure out how Martinez got turned into party officials (makes me think Harkin made assumptions and did it to score a political point by embelishing the story to make it more damning).

But you have to love the MSM-get some memos that show the Dems behaving badly, and their job is to find the leak and get him fired, and totally ignore the content of the memos, get memos that reflect badly on the GOP and worry about the content instead how they got it.

Such hypocrisy and spin!</p... (Below threshold)
Clive Tolson:

Such hypocrisy and spin!

At least the GOP continues to call their own people to the carpet for their lapses.

Then, why did they not own up to it 2 weeks ago?

It wasn't until the Washington Post finally tracked down the source, did the 'carpet calling' start!

So, let's see, who got burned? The Right bloggers, Powerline, Michelle Malkin, Howard Kurtz and the Washington Times (again).

"Then, why did they not own... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"Then, why did they not own up to it 2 weeks ago?"

Why didn't Harkin admit to being the source two weeks ago? Also, from the GOP story, it appears that Martinez didn't realize he was the source.

Also, Clive you may want to re read Michelle's posts on this, she was on the story, because the origens were unknown, and didn't declare them forged or anything, she just felt like the sourcing of the memo was weak, and she was right.

Then add to that the fact that the memo itself was really kind of a non story IMO. Talking points are common in politics (Susan Strich, Sean Hannity, and Bob Beckle don't leave home without them). And the fact that somebody saw political gain in a position isn't anything new either. Seeing political gain in a position doesn't mean that is the only reason it was taken, but the reality is that some positions do come with some gain. I am pretty certain that when Bill Clinton vetoed the partial birth abortion bill he was thinking about how much the pro choice base was going to love him for it, even if he thought it was the right thing to do.

Typical Rovian Cuban fascis... (Below threshold)

Typical Rovian Cuban fascist recruit antics. Why should anyone be surprised? Just another disgusting lying repug like the rest of you.

EVEN when your proved wrong... (Below threshold)
Mark Blahut:

EVEN when your proved wrong , You take the low road .
The Shiavo memo was a right wing mistake not Dem .
When you get caught , Be real Men !
Do not try to flip - flop - You look stupid .

Trollee: As they say, scrat... (Below threshold)

Trollee: As they say, scratch a lib and you will find a racist.

J -Is it hard to t... (Below threshold)

J -

Is it hard to type with the white sheet on?

As they say, scratch a l... (Below threshold)

As they say, scratch a lib and you will find a racist.

As who say? Oh, you're just making shit up again? Ok...as they say, scratch a conservative and you will find a publicity hogging, disabled-exploiter, partisan hack. And that's just the freshmen. The senior members are more, you know, nuanced at it.

Clearly this right-blogger ... (Below threshold)

Clearly this right-blogger shoe-eating will completely negate Rathergate and Easongate...

... or something.

There's an order of magnitude issue here with this memo.

Don't you lefties just hate... (Below threshold)

Don't you lefties just hate it when your LSM throws you "red meat" and it turns out to be a scarecrow?

So... it turns out the memo... (Below threshold)

So... it turns out the memo isn't a fake, or a political dirty trick concocted by Democrats to make Republicans look stupid. Republicans really are that stupid.

What a surprise.

This shows many things. It... (Below threshold)

This shows many things. It shows the Dems knew they could hand the document to the Post & ABC News and they would act immediately on it, not even getting half their facts straight. (distributed by party leaders to all the senators? oh really?) I love how that woman at ABC News & Mike Allen backed off their comments -- even saying they didn't say things they DID say, when the bloggers had their quotes printed out right in front of us. Nobody at ABC or Washington Post came out looking good on this.

Uh, ...Tom Harkin waited how long to come forward?

How many people do you think actually know about this outside the political junkies? Hardly any. Sorry Dems.

And uh, er Clive......do your homework on which bloggers actually said what. It would help with future credibility.

Poor Democrats. If this is all they have -- you know we're winning. : )

Dear lord you people are pa... (Below threshold)

Dear lord you people are pathetic!

Real men fess up to their mistakes. Keep bitching like this please so everyone can see what a bunch of little girls y'all are.

My neutered cat is more of man then any or your lot.

Jill and Just Me, you're bo... (Below threshold)

Jill and Just Me, you're both right.

The lesson from this episode is about the gullability of the MSM and their mission to rush ANYTHING that damages Republicans into print. It's taken two weeks go get all of the facts straight. The press is supposed to fact-check its stories before they publish them, not just run with the word of Democratic party hacks.

Limbaugh likes to often point out that the MSM will take press releases from left wing groups like Planned Parenthood or Greenpeace straight off the fax machine and run them as news stories, with no fact-checking or research whatsoever. I think that this story is a good example of that kind of behavior.

So far in today's 'heightened-awareness' arena of blog journalism the MSM is 50/50. They got burned big-time with the forged Rathergate memos, and they got lucky with this story since the source of the memo was in fact the office of a Republican senator.

But in their haste to push the story, they effectively made up the alligations that the memo was distributed by Republican leadership to all Senate Republicans. To date, there is still zero evidence supporting that charge.

The more I learn about the MSM, the more I'm reminded of the phrase "poorly educated and easily led."

It's also worth noting the ... (Below threshold)

It's also worth noting the difference in the way the MSM handled this memo which was damaging to Republicans and the damning Democrat Senate Judiciary Committee memos from 2001.

In the case of the Harkin Memo (which is what it should be called, since he was the one responsible for distributing and publicizing it) the press pounced on the chance to publish the memo because they could use it to smear Republicans.

In the case of the 2001 Democratic Senate Judiciary Memos, which plainly showed racism as a leading factor in the Democrats' stonewalling of Miguel Estrada's nomination, the press tried to spike the story, and then only published stories related to the outing and punishment of the Republicans who leaked the memo. (As I recall) Niether the New York Times nor the Washington Post ever published the damning content of the memos.

You can go even further back, to the 1990's and the infamous case of the cell phones of Newt Gingrich and Paul Coverdell being wiretapped by Democrat party operatives in Florida. The New York Times eagerly printed transcriptions of the phone calls, which were considered damning to Gingrich, even though dissemenating information gathered through an illegal wiretap is a felony.

Of course Janet Reno's Justice Department never quite got around to indicting anyone involved in that whole sorry incident.

Mike you make some good poi... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Mike you make some good points.

If the DNC gets caught writing some questionable/unethical memos, the MSM attacks the messenger and ignores the message.

If the GOP gets caught with the same, they will attack the message, and won't even fact check the messenger.

I still don't understand why Harkin was silent all this time-I can see why the guy who wrote it didn't speak up (he was trying to cover his own behind), but why didn't Harkin say "hey it was me and Martinez gave it to me" makes me wonder if he didn't like the story the MSM made up to go with the memo better than the truth.

Oh, and as for the memo itself, I remember saying back when it was released that it didn't bother me that much. Talking points are common for every party, and none of the talking points was factually incorrect-maybe offensive to some people, but they weren't factually wrong.

As they say, scratch a l... (Below threshold)

As they say, scratch a lib and you will find a racist.

As who say?

The subject of the subordinate clause.

Oh, you're just making shit up again?

No, it's definitely the subject of the subordinate clause.

And that's just the freshmen.

John Kerry!

The senior members are more, you know, nuanced at it.

Ted Kennedy! Though most people would just call him a drunk.

Is it hard to type with ... (Below threshold)

Is it hard to type with the white sheet on?

Apparantly not, since you are the one that is wearing one.

Kev, I dont think you shoul... (Below threshold)

Kev, I dont think you should be embaressed at all, but I think the idea that Republican Operative was responsible for dirty tricks, and that it was denied in the Right Sphere... granted by others, is something that we should all consider when taking self rightous positions, "My pooh smells better than your pooh." I think you are one of the most rational people on the Right Kevin, but give the Left an opportunity to enjoy a gottcha moment, becuase the Rigth has certainly Had and "Created," their share of them. I doubt if many of your readers will agree with my analogy, and really I dont care, I am not a screaming lefty, but I am glad to see this work out as it did, becuase it lowers the bullshit factor significantly... Just my two "pesos." Now I am off to celebrate some kick ass news at ISOU, come by and have a drink with me you and Jay Tea.

Paz (peace)!

P.S. and thanks for the link, it has been too long since you have given me any linky love.

Kevin they mischaractarized... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Kevin they mischaractarized Michelle's posts, so don't feel too bad.

Shoot Michelle took one of the conservative bloggers to task, but still got called all sorts of interesting names.

I don't think you or Michelle need to have crow for dinner anytime soon over this one.

And uh, er Clive......d... (Below threshold)
Clive Tolson:

And uh, er Clive......do your homework on which bloggers actually said what. It would help with future credibility

I stand corrected Jill, my bad! To give Ms. Malkin further credit, she owned up for your side with honesty.

The lesson from this episode is about the gullability of the MSM and their mission to rush ANYTHING that damages Republicans into print

At some point Mike, you're gonna realize how laughable this tired Liberal MSM has gotten! The only gullibility here, are the Right bloggers running with accusations and conspiracy theories usually starting at Powerline. By the time everyone had trackbacked the same distorted lies, a ABC News/Democratic Party plant became the truth in the Conservative Echo Chamber.

But, I will not get into how you guys were able to spin manipulated non-stories like Sandy Berger onto the TV networks. So, whose bidding is the MSM doing, by keeping stories like the 26 Iraqi prisoners murdered in U.S. custody, 9 Billion dollars in aid that disappeared from Iraq and innocent people shipped off to Jordan by the CIA to get tortured?






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