Monday, August 15, 2011

More Shoddy Reporting at the News Journal (yea, again)

Fresh off his enlightening piece about links on’s website that lead to porn when Christine O’Donnell is searched, the News Journal’s intrepid reporter Chad Livengood enlightens us with his review of the first few pages of Christine O’Donnell’s book.  Chad has apparently gotten the Gannett memo “Kill the girl, kill the girl, yes master, yes master, tee hee, tee hee, tee hee hee hee hee.” (Thanks to Bill Cosby for that quote by the way).  One could ask (and I have) why Chad chose to focus his last blog posting on research surrounding her store instead of say, the partisanship of CREW who has literally a more than 3-1 bias of attacking conservatives and Republicans vs. Democrats OR the fact that CREW violated their 501(c)3 mandate to remain apolitical when they attacked Christine O’Donnell during the campaign season.  Agree or disagree with their (lies) position, the fact is that they broke the law.  He’s not yet provided an answer.  I assume he was busy with his latest concoction.  This Sunday he released his review of O’Donnell’s book (or at least the first few pages) and WOW are there factual errors.  I’m going to go through his piece (you can read the full piece here) and tackle some of the more egregious errors.
“Just like in her campaign, the impact of the witch ad is a central theme of her 358-page book, which combines O'Donnell's life story with reflections on her three failed Senate campaigns in Delaware and a tea-party-inspired manifesto for changing the country's direction.”
The ad is discussed in the book on a few pages but it’s not what one would consider a “central theme”.  The “Witch Ad” as it is known, is so well known, to leave out the story surrounding it would have been disingenuous. 

“O'Donnell claims someone from Hollywood-based television producer Fred Davis' staff "leaked" the "I'm not a witch" ad to the press and Internet without her permission.
"Within one day, it became the most-watched video on the Internet ... all before I'd seen any footage, let alone approved the final cut," O'Donnell wrote…

…O'Donnell's version of events that transpired last fall are already being disputed by Republican consultants who dealt with the campaign and contradicted by emails her own campaign manager sent to Davis and his staff.”
If I may, I was a campaign worker after the Primary election (clarified for legal reasons) for Christine O’Donnell and I performed many duties.  On the day of the commercial shoot, one of the things I was asked to do was to help track down supporters who would like to be in ads for O’Donnell.  I knew that the campaign had been directed by the NRSC to utilize Fred Davis, a famous and highly touted Hollywood producer as their campaign ad man.  Given Davis’ endorsements, I thought it was odd to be getting a call the day of the shoot and not sooner to allow us time to find people.  Fortunately, Christine had a lot of VERY good supporters and we were able to find a number of people.  Another staffer and I rode with the participants to a Philadelphia studio that was apparently once a warehouse of some sort.  After some snacks and some time spent in the Green Room while Christine shot her portions of the ad we were called in.  Only later did I find out why we were called so late.  Oh I had heard the rumblings that they were concerned with the potential content of the ad Davis had planned to create but I had so many other duties to attend to that I didn’t delve further into that.  I figured that this guy was a professional (and he is) and that it would all work out in the end.  Like Christine, I was a little concerned that going with a high end Hollywood producer was a little over the top but I was just a regular guy and what did I know.  I should have spoken up, I should have said something.  I feel like part of this is my fault for not confirming Christine’s own thoughts.  Of course, I couldn’t know what she was thinking but still, I could have said something.  When we finally entered the studio, Mr. Davis had each participant sit and answer some basic questions like why they supported Christine and what they thought of her and Mr. Coons.  Mr. Davis and his staff were nice but there was something weird, they were almost TOO nice.  After now having been around politicians and media types, I know the feeling for what it is a divine warning that the person talking to you is a slime ball.  The supporters that had come to be in the commercial were impressive and their words were powerful.  I felt uplifted hearing Bob, Melissa, Councilman Brown and Mike (a lifelong Democrat) speak and I remember saying to myself that given Fred’s talent and the supporters words, this was going to be an incredible set of ads.  It was raining out and so after chatting with Christine, the supporters and some of the crew from the shoot I pulled the campaign truck (talk about grassroots, the “campaign truck” was my 1997 GMC Sierra 1500 which I had decked out with yard signs taped on the back and sides…we were truly “grassroots” and yet, we’d just hobnobbed with people from Hollywood) around to the door and loaded up the gear.   I noticed a person I hadn’t seen earlier and I asked who they were.  I was told that the person was a New York Times reporter and that they’d wanted to do a story about Fred working with Christine but that the content of the commercials was still unknown to them.

What’s weird is on the way back, the tension in the truck was such that you could literally feel the air being sucked out.  We lightened it with some discussions about faith (yea, it was THAT tight) and some small talk.  Later, as I was in and out of what I called “The War Room” where the review of the ads was taking place, I found out that
the NYT reporter had apparently been leaked a copy of the “Witch Ad” which to that point had not been approved or even SEEN by the candidate.

“Kyle Roberts, a media buyer from Alexandria, Va., who purchased O'Donnell's TV time, said "proper procedure was followed for all advertisements aired on behalf of the campaign."

"This includes creative approval by campaign officials," Roberts said in a statement.”
Unfortunately, Chad’s reporting here is shoddy and to be honest, he knows it.  I’ve seen the emails sent by Campaign Manager Matt Moran to Chad about this exact issue and the fact is that Kyle, the media buyer did follow procedure.  However, Kyle had NOTHING to do with the creative side.  He had nothing to do with which ad ran.  THAT is the crux of the issue.  Of all the ads that were shot that night, Fred Davis and his team only prepared the ad that Christine had specifically told him that she did NOT want to run.  The problem was that there was no time to wait for the other ads, the ones she’d specifically said she wanted to run with, to be delivered.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars in media buys had already been spent and there was a deadline.  The campaign was up against the wall and with Christine on the campaign trail; Matt was forced to pull the trigger on an ad he knew was trouble.  The alternative was to literally piss away hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Chad Livengood was made acutely aware of these facts but somehow they didn’t make it in.  Then again, there’s a lot that Chad knows that isn’t in the piece.
“Emails obtained by The News Journal show O’Donnell’s campaign manager, Matt Moran, approved the witch ad, telling Davis “solid message Fred … well scripted and delivered despite the horrible hair (assume that was intentional to help reverse her negatives with women?).””
Having been in the room when some of these discussions took place, I can attest that NOONE was happy about the ad and that of all the people involved, *I* was the most positive about it.  I thought if nothing else, it addressed the issue and that if there were other, stronger ads backing it up, like those cut by her supporters that fateful night, that it really wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Of course then I realized it had gone viral on the internet.  I can attest to the sarcasm in Matt’s voice and emails.  He was FAR from even content with the situation but he had no choice.  Even the AP’s Randall Chase reported Matt’s sarcasm while Chad decided to leave that part out.
"No media company is going to leak the ad on behalf of a campaign," said one Republican consultant, who declined to be named because of what he said was O'Donnell's history of retaliating against critics. "If that actually happened, Fred's firm would no longer be working with O'Donnell…
... Moran and O'Donnell would not explain why Davis' firm continued to work for the campaign if they felt sabotaged by the airing of the witch ad as O'Donnell claims in the book."
Anyone else a little tired of reading about anonymous sources that more times than not, don’t have the foggiest idea what they’re talking about?  Chad seems to take issue with the fact that Christine paid Davis despite this problem and that she continued to work with him.  Moran explained in his email to Chad that the situation around “The Witch Ad” was not good and they there were backed into a corner.  Remember also that Christine O’Donnell had been all but TOLD to use Fred Davis by the NRSC and she was between a rock and a hard place.  To put it simply, she was the Republican nominee and she needed the support of the party.  She was rebuilding her name within the party and doing all she could to repair bridges that had been burned during the contentious primary with RINO Mike Castle.  So Christine took some advice that he gut told her was flat out wrong.  She took a few thing on “hope” and given the money on the line, she really didn’t have a ton of choices.  Moran went on to explain to Chad that after that initial disagreement on strategy, Davis’ firm worked quite well with the campaign and created some really great ads like “Principles”, “Tax Man”, “Shame on You Chris” and “What I’m Made Of”.  Emails obtained by this blogger show that Chad Livengood was made ACUTELY aware of these facts and these ads before he published his piece.  Why didn’t they make it into the story Chad?
“Throughout the book, O'Donnell continues to show her distrust of the media and what she calls "unscrupulous reporters," though she doesn't take any to task by name.”
Christine didn’t take them to task by name but I will.  One is Randall Chase at the AP who has a history of leaving facts out of stories, another is Ginger Gibson whose reporting during the campaign was shoddy at best and flat out hit pieces and Democrat propaganda at worst and another is Mr. Livengood himself.  Between his report on porn while ignoring CREW’s political bias and their violation of the law and his seriously flawed “book review”, Chad is more than making the case for his inclusion as an “unscrupulous reporter”.  That’s really a shame too because his tenacity on the timecards of Tony DeLuca and other double dippers was much appreciated.  I’m disappointed in such tabloid journalism.
“With some of her campaign apparatus still intact, O'Donnell also has continued to deal with allegations from her past two campaigns that she used donations for personal expenses. At the same time, O'Donnell's campaign has gone after her accusers, filing complaints with the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Attorney's Office and District of Columbia Bar Association against attorneys and a political watchdog who have called into question her campaign ethics.”
Actually Chad, as you are WELL aware, the U.S. Attorney in Delaware has cleared O’Donnell of any wrong doing and the FEC has found no anomalies with her campaign finances.   O’Donnell has launched investigations into the outright lies by her accusers and asked the IRS to look at CREW’s blatant violation of their 501(C)3 charter.  She’s also filed complaints to have CREW Executive Director and bar member Melanie Sloan investigated for her role in filing knowingly false affidavits on behalf of admitted liar David Keegan.  The so called “watchdog group” has a more than 8-1 record of accusing Republicans over Democrats while historically, more Democrats have been investigated for ethics violations than have Republicans.
“O'Donnell uses the book to settle a few scores with her political adversaries in the Delaware political establishment, claiming "the state party didn't lift a finger to help our campaign" in 2008 and sabotaged her bid for the seat long held by Joe Biden in 2010…
"…It shows how ill-informed Christine O'Donnell is about the history of our party, its leadership and the pro-life candidates in Delaware," said Rakestraw, who added that she doesn't plan to buy O'Donnell's book.”
The reality is that O’Donnell is right.  In 2008, O’Donnell was “endorsed” by the state party but the party did not feel confident that anyone could beat Joe Biden.  That has been the MO of the Delaware GOP for 10 years now since the Democrats took control of Dover.  The Delaware GOP has been running defeatist campaigns ever since and to be quite honest, I have questioned the dedication of the Delaware GOP leadership.  The fact is that the following video more than sums up what the Delaware elites think.  In the video, National Committeewoman Priscilla Rakestraw is very candid about Christine O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart:

Christine raised a reported $7 million during her campaign however, she beat Mike Castle by raising far less than $2 million.  Perhaps this video shows you a little bit more about who Priscilla Rakestraw is:

The bottom line here is that the leadership in the Delaware GOP is not committed to winning.  It’s my SINCERE desire to see John Sigler change things but let’s call a spade what it is.  The Delaware GOP leadership simply has not been committed to winning.  The folly of the 2010 election really needs no recount but to remind you, former Delaware GOP Chairman Tom Ross, who was in fact the active chair at the time, said that Christine O’Donnell could not be elected dogcatcher and as you can see above, Priscilla sure had some strong words about Christine O’Donnell as well.  In fact, it’s well known inside party circles that Priscilla Rakestraw orchestrated the smear campaign against O’Donnell.  Rakestraw has also been implicated in a smear campaign against State Party chair candidate and Delta Airlines Pilot Mike Protack that resulted in trouble with Protack’s private market employer.  Protack is considering taking legal action against those who used their influence to attack him with unfounded allegations. 
“O'Donnell also alleges that Biden and Castle personally warned a supporter of the "consequences" of raising money for her in the 2008 Senate race against Biden. Like many of O'Donnell's allegations of campaign dirty tricks detailed in the book, the individual involved is not named.
Castle said O'Donnell's claim is "wholly inaccurate" and "the figment of somebody's imagination."
"I don't remember doing anything of that nature," Castle said Saturday.”
First of all, the “I don’t remember” line is not exactly smacking of surety of his statements.  The fact is that evidence suggests that Mike Castle did actively work to sabotage her campaign, that Karl Rove (a key advisor to Castle) actively worked to sabotage her campaign and that there is a long held understanding that Castle, Biden and Carper are thick as thieves. 
“She accuses Ross of abusing party funds by paying for robo phone calls against her in the primary.
Ross said there was nothing illegal about spending state party funds to help elect Castle, who won the party's backing at the state convention last May before losing the primary to O'Donnell.”
Sure is odd that the RNC’s position has been to stay out of primary races while Tom Ross and the rest of his leadership decided to inject themselves into this one in an UNPRECEDENTED manner.  It may not be illegal to spend the money on those robo-calls but it sure is an abuse of party funds especially now that we know if they’d saved that money, they would have had more to spend on electing Republicans.
“After GOP delegates endorsed Castle, the party decided to launch a negative campaign against O'Donnell because it seemed the best option for helping Castle breeze to victory for the U.S. Senate seat and make gains in the state Legislature, Ross said.
"While my dogcatcher statement may have been a little harsh, the truth of the matter remains, Christine O'Donnell is not a viable statewide candidate in the state of Delaware," Ross said in an interview. "We had the biggest Republican year in a hundred years, and she lost by a very, very wide margin, while bringing down the rest of the ticket."”
Well Mr. Ross is continuing to double down on his stupidity from the 2010 campaign.  This is a guy who named ME as Christine O’Donnell’s Press Secretary when I wasn’t even part of the campaign until AFTER the primary campaign was over.  Also, this is apparently a guy who ignores the facts.  You see, Ross claims that O’Donnell brought down the rest of the party but the facts actually bear out the OPPOSITE as the case.  You see exit polling from the Delaware Senate race shows that O’Donnell actually HELPED down ticket Republicans.  You see O’Donnell drew more Republicans and Independents to the polls and fewer Democrats by percentage than the registration gap bore out.  It's interesting that 18% of Delaware Republicans cost Christine the election and likewise, 18% of Delaware Republicans consider themselves more liberal than moderate.  I wonder if THAT is the reason those Republicans down ticket lost…because of Tom Ross’ failure to put together a Republican Party that represents Republican values.

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