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Bias? More Doubts Raised About The Politico’s Thompson Article

In this long election cycle, we may be learning as much about media bias as about the candidates. PJM's Bob Owens has more on the questionable characterization of Fred Thompson by The Politico's Roger Simon.

by
Bob Owens

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December 22, 2007 - 1:00 am

Fire Chief Dan McKenzie cast more doubts on The Politico’s chief political correspondent Roger Simon’s version of events at McKenzie’s Waverly, Iowa fire station in Simon’s article “Fred Thompson: Lazy as charged.” Questions had been raised about Simon’s article based on a video of Thompson’s appearance, which seemed to show the candidate behaving in a radically different manner from the one described by The Politico correspondent. In interviews with PJ Media, Chief McKenzie similarly refuted Simon’s characterization of Thompson as “lazy” or “sour” at the event and the editor of the Waverly Democrat refused to confirm the accuracy of comments attributed to her in Simon’s article.

McKenzie was unaware of the Simon article until Friday afternoon. The Iowa fire chief was read the following paragraphs and asked for comment.

…Thompson rode four blocks to the local fire station. Local fire stations always have captive audiences (unless there is a fire).

Inside, Thompson shook a few hands – there were only about 15 people there – and then Chief Dan McKenzie handed Thompson the chief’s fire hat so Thompson could put it on.

Thompson looked at it with a sour expression on his face.

“I’ve got a silly hat rule,” Thompson said.

In point of fact, the “silly” hat was the one Chief McKenzie wore to fires and I am guessing none of the firefighters in attendance considered it particularly silly, but Thompson was not going to put it on. He just stood there holding it and staring at it.

To save the moment, Jeri Thompson took the hat from her husband’s hands and put it on her head.

“You look cute,” Thompson said to her. She did.

Unlike Simon’s characterization of a “sour” Thompson, McKenzie recalled that the firefighters were joking with the Thompsons during the visit, which corroborates the CBS News video that captured part of the event. He stated further than any attempt to portray the event as Simon described was the work of “someone who had their own agenda.”

Unprompted, McKenzie stated that he was well aware of the dangers of politicians wearing hats, and he and his fellow firefighters understood why Thompson declined to wear the helmet. He also stated that he understood that someone might want to make an issue of Thompson wearing his helmet, and that it seemed that when Thompson declined, “someone decided to make an issue out of it anyway.”

Chief McKenzie concluded that the Waverly firemen was very appreciative of Thompson’s visit, as they would be of any presidential candidate that took the time to stop by.

Prior to the campaign’s visit to the Waverly Fire Department, Thompson visited the Waverly Democrat, a semi-weekly newspaper, where Thompson conducted a brief interview with the newspaper’s staff, including editor Anelia Dimitrova and reporter Janelle Penny.

Simon attributed the following statements to Editor Dimitrova in his article:

Anelia Dimitrova, the executive regional editor, greeted us in warmly and invited us to have a seat, chat and use the bathroom. She offered Mark a high-speed Internet line so he could upload some video to his website and I sat down with her for a brief interview.

She said Thompson was the first candidate to come into the paper. The paper does not endorse candidates, and maybe that is why the others have skipped it. “He’s got a lot of catching up to do,” Dimitrova said. “I think it’s a sign he is behind. I don’t think he necessarily wants to run. Bluntly, I don’t know why he is running.”

Simon wrote on the next page of the article:

Later in the day, I sent an e-mail to Anelia Dimitrova, asking her about the private meeting she had with Thompson at the newspaper office.

She e-mailed me back that Thompson “was so vague that I would be hard-pressed to write a story. Simply put, there is no news peg other than he came to the newsroom with his model wife and a beehive of staffers. When I asked him specifically what he would do as prez for farmers in Bremer County, he resorted to glittering generalities.”

When reached for comment this afternoon, Dimitrova stated that she had a newspaper edition that she was trying to finish. She also made clear that she did “not want to get in the middle of this.”

When asked to confirm whether or not the words Simon attributed to her in the article were accurate, Dimitrova declined.

Bob Owens has been covering the Beauchamp Scandal for PJ Media and the Confederate Yankee.

Bob Owens blogs at Bob-Owens.com.
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