Former Time Reporter Says RNC Strip-Club Bill Somehow Worse Than Illegal Straw Donations at Al Gore Event

Former Time White House correspondent (and Carter administration appointee) Margaret Carlson really wants RNC chairman Michael Steele fired. In her Bloomberg News column on Wednesday, she badly exaggerated: "In the world of fundraising scandals, this one makes former Vice President Al Gore’s visit to a Buddhist temple look as quaint as tea at Buckingham Palace."

Earth to Margaret: the wayward RNC strip-club reimbursement is certainly embarrassing, but it isn't illegal, like the temple fundraiser. As Michelle Malkin explained

In the spring of 2000, [Gore aide Maria] Hsia was convicted by a federal jury in Washington, D.C., of five felony counts related to more than $100,000 in illegal contributions to Democratic candidates. The stash included $65,000 in straw donations, which Hsia had funneled through clueless, non-English-speaking monks and nuns the day after Vice President Al Gore's 1996 visit to the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Southern California.

Of course, the media mostly skipped over Hsia's conviction at the time, which cannot be said for Voyeurgate. As Brent Bozell lamented, "This marks a new low for America’s so-called mainstream press. Up until now, they’ve refused to investigate criminal wrongdoing. Now they’re refusing to report the convictions."

Carlson can't seem to make up her mind about Steele. He's having a "spectacular meltdown" for a "once-rising star," but she also says the RNC's first black chairman should have stayed out of the spotlight:

A more successful chairman would have followed the advice given tennis star Billie Jean King by Bobby Riggs in their famous doubles match: stand in the alley and don’t hit anything that doesn’t hit you first. Don’t make news, don’t overshadow candidates, don’t spend money except to raise it.

Excuse me? Liberals can tell the black official to go stand in the alley and be silent? Like he's doing valet parking? If that actually happened, Carlson would be writing this story the other way, that the black man is window dressing. It's blatantly obvious that Carlson's interest is in RNC-bashing, not in offering the RNC sincere advice.

She actually writes that Republicans must be wishing for the good old days under dull white chairmen -- without being that racially explicit.

Steele's management of the RNC will be measured first by electoral results, which have been pretty good so far -- while DNC chairman Tim Kaine, whom Carlson lauds for standing in the alley, couldn't keep his own governor's seat in his party.

Republicans will eventually judge whether his approach to party spending was wise, or foolish. But Carlson's just throwing every pineapple she can at Steele's head:

He criticized President Barack Obama’s spending in a time of recession and then flew the party off to Hawaii for its annual meeting. While much of the rest of the country was freezing, press coverage of the event often featured a sparkling ocean, a sunny sky and drinks with umbrellas in the background with Steele in a Hawaiian shirt.

Party meetings in Hawaii during a recession is certainly not great PR planning -- but Carlson avoids mentioning that President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also vacationed in Hawaii around that time, so if the media weren't so liberal and selectively opportunistic, this wouldn't have been as bad an idea.

Perhaps the most ridiculous and inaccurate sentence in the whole Carlson column is this one: "In 2004, Steele delivered the Republican response to Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention to almost equal acclaim." If you were in a coma in 2004, you might believe that. 

In the real world, Steele was treated as, well, window dressing. ABC's Chris Bury introducing a brief, dull Steele speech snippet:

"The modern conventions are all about projecting images that will reach those undecided voters in the middle and that's why the Republicans, as they did four years ago, are striving to show a picture of diversity that the delegates themselves do not reflect."

The star of that convention night was Sen. Zell Miller for his house-rocking denunciation of John Kerry's defense votes, and the media really, really hated that.

[Hat tip: Johnny in Boston]

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis