A reporter for the St. Louis paper the Riverfront Times has a message for all the members of the Tea Party movement he smeared with false accusations of political violence: "I have no regrets."
Chad Garrison penned a blog post last week speculating that a member of the Tea Party had firebombed the office of Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo. "Given what we know of [the perpatrator] - 50, white, angry - he certainly fits the demographics of a Tea Party member," Garrison wrote. " "On second thought," he added, "maybe he's not a Tea Party member. Firebombing your opponent's office seems a little too, um, sane for that group."
But it turns out the man was actually a disgruntled former Carnahan staffer and blogger for the left-wing site Talking Points Memo, not a member of the Tea Party. Members of the movement asked Garrison to retract. His response: lighten up, wingnuts.
"As to the legions of Tea Party adherents who are calling for my head: No, I have no regrets," he said in an email. "I was having fun - at their expense."
In case you're wondering (I was), the Riverfront Times does not bill itself as a sort of localized version of the Onion - it's not a satirical publication. There also was no notice on Garrison's piece that what followed was just a joke.
So this apparently is the journalistic standard RFT imposes on its employees. They can smear entire political movements by speculating - without evidence and, it turns out, contrary to the facts - that its members are violent. When they're called out for their sloppy and borderline-unethical reporting, they can just claim they were joking.
As usual, Ace does a fantastic job of illustrating the utter absurdity of the whole debacle. I'll let him close it out:
Again.. I'm sure this is sick-funny but I'm a little too stupid, I'm afraid, to understand the humor here. It's like that intellectual humor, you know, like on Frasier.
Oh That Reminds Me... I heard a joke once. It was pretty funny. Stop me if you've heard this one before:
-- Who's there?
-- Boo who?
Boo who we're going to take the country back and leave you with nothing but your hot hysterical tears as you sob to yourself that your New God is dead and make hesitation-cuts on your wrists with a straighrazor.
Pretty good one too, right? I like the "boo hoo" part.
And also, the part where you die broken and alone.