S-CHIP: Dems, Media Mount Another 'Smear' Campaign

Despite, or perhaps because of the S-CHIP stalemate in Washington, liberal media outlets including the New York Times, Think Progress and now the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky continue to somewhat sinisterly flame one aspect of the S-CHIP story at the urging of Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) staffer Matt Miller, even though the narrative they've woven isn't at all supported by the facts.

I've obtained a copy of one of allegedly many emails Miller has used to try and gin up buzz around a false story targeted at the Republican Leader. And as you'll see below, it seems the liberal media likes its gin.

From: Matthew Miller ******@dscc.org
Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 4:11 PM
To: Matthew Miller
Subject: KY Station Asks: Did McConnell mislead public?

In case you missed it, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported this morning that Senator Mitch McConnell’s office played a key role in spreading false information about a 12-year old boy who receives health insurance from the SCHIP program. Now Kentucky television station WHAS is reporting that McConnell appears to have misled the public when he denied any involvement in the story on Friday. McConnell is now caught between his public statement denying any role in spreading the story, and his spokesman’s admission that he did.

Interesting that it would be Miller, you might remember him from his Mark Foley infamy and his links to Rahm Emmanuel.

Matt Miller, who was communications director for the House Democratic Caucus in 2005, testified before the ethics committee that he gave the (Foley) e-mails to the DCCC. Miller was also the source who gave the e-mails to reporters from The Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times, and later, to a reporter for Harper's magazine.

As a result of Miller's current smear campaign, today, critics of conservatism in general and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, in particular, continue to fuel unfounded allegations that the Minority Leader's office had a hand in a smear that didn't actually take place. Below is an analysis of the facts. A new editorial from the Courier Journal:

McConnell versus truth - Mitch McConnell can't have it both ways.

He can't luxuriate in a reputation for personal caution and political control, yet claim he knew nothing about the role his office tried to play in sliming a Baltimore boy and his family when they came forward in support of the SCHIP health care expansion.

This Courier Journal account even quotes Miller and presents his false smear of McConnell as fact. Why don't they just turn the paper over to the DSCC's Miller and save the sweat?

Matthew Miller, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in an e-mail yesterday that "spreading false rumors about a 12-year-old boy is despicable for any reason."

"No matter how McConnell's office spins it now, the e-mail makes clear that they were part of the campaign to smear a child who had the nerve to stand up and say children's health insurance shouldn't be cut," Miller said.

First, there was absolutely no genuine smearing of 12 year-old Graeme Frost. Not one media outlet fueling that charge has produced a single line written by any reputable Right-side blogger to support the false claim. Additionally, there is absolutely no evidence of anything at all negative about the boy or his family that appears to have been generated by McConnell or any of his staff. While many bloggers challenged the notion that a family in the Frost's financial situation might cause some Americans to think about whether or not the entitlement program was good policy, no one ever suggested they weren't qualified under current guidelines as details of their situation became available thanks to bloggers. Neither the DNC, nor the media did its job in vetting the family in the first place, as even mostly liberal CNN was forced to point out after bloggers did the leg work.

I think in this instance what happened was the Democrats didn’t do as much of a vetting as they could have done on this young man, his situation, his family.

Think Progress accused the Senator's office of "propagating the (non-)smear campaign" when all staffer Don Stewart did was alert some mainstream journalists to the buzz on the blogs. That's something any responsible staffer should do when it comes to breaking political news given the impact of new media, including blogs, today. Stewart made no charges, but simply pointed out what was being said on the blogs and then, according to sources, promptly followed up with two additional emails waving any potentially interested reporters off the story. One of those emails has been documented in previous press reports.

But Don Stewart, the Kentucky Republican's communications director, said he also wrote a follow-up e-mail later the same day that said a blogger he respected had determined that there was no story and that "the family is legit."

But let's not let the facts get in the way. Enter the New York Times' Paul Krugman, who penned a malicious, misleading piece attacking McConnell on October 12 which was full of falsehoods. It was subsequently picked up by the Louisville Courier-Journal in print on the fourteenth (no link available).

In fact, however, Republicans had already made their first move: an e-mail message from the office of Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, sent to reporters and obtained by the Web site Think Progress, repeated the smears against the Frosts and asked: “Could the Dems really have done that bad of a job vetting this family?”

In reality all the email did was repeat some very basic financial information which turned out to be true, while suggesting the press might want to look into it for themselves. There never even was any smear, unless of course pointing out that someone is middle-class has suddenly become an insult. Also, as Michelle Malkin, lead blogger on the story, noted here, there was no involvement between McConnell's office and bloggers at all.

Snort-worthy reverse conspiracy theorizing of the day: ThinkProgress in a tizzy over a McConnell aide’s e-mail to reporters about blogger coverage of Harry Reid’s poster child abuse, which the left-wing group touts as proof! proof! that McConnell was “involved in the right-wing campaign to smear Graeme Frost and his family.” He’s no more “involved” in the “right-wing smear” than CNN or any of the other MSM outlets trailing behind and finally asking hard-headed questions about the story behind the story.

WHAS 11 News managed to get McConnell on the record video here and now the liberal media and bloggers allege it's somehow proof that McConnell is lying. That's absurd. See transcript below. There was no leak and also see the clarification from Stewart below which the very media now accusing McConnell of lying actually printed itself. They know it's a bogus story but continue to cherry pick quotes and fuel the flames of a controversy that never really existed.

REPORTER: “Was there a leak from your office bashing that 12-year-old that made the Democratic response?”

McCONNELL: “No.”

REPORTER: “There wasn’t?”

McCONNELL: “No.”

REPORTER: “Was there an indication that your office was trying to push reporters to try and dig into this 12-year-old’s background?”

McCONNELL: “No”

REPORTER: “Then what was the deal with the email?”

McCONNELL: “What?”

REPORTER: “What was the deal with the email from your staffer?”

McCONNELL: “There was no involvement whatsoever.”

REPORTER: “From your staff.”

McCONNELL: “None.”

STEWART: "This is what I told McConnell: They said we tried to get this story started with the blogs. We did not. And part two, we spiked the story. Those are the two things I told him. Which is what he responded to. No, we didn't start the story and that we spiked it.

"I told him that we spiked it, so his answer would make sense to him, that no, we didn't try to get reporters to dig into this," Stewart said.

You don't need a calender to know we're heading into an election year. All you have to do is monitor the sleazy Democrat spin machine working behind the scenes and the all too often complicit mainstream media to figure that one out.

Health Care Liberals & Democrats SCHIP Kentucky

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