Ed Driscoll

21st-Century Watergate

“What did David Corn know and when did he know it?”, James Taranto asks in his latest Best of the Web Today column in the Wall Street Journal:

One suspects the supporters of “campaign finance reform” are motivated not by a desire to clean up politics but by the expectation that they will be better than their opponents at gaming a complicated regulatory system and shielding their own corrupt behavior from sanctions or penalties.

Without question the left’s proclaimed aversion to money in politics is rank hypocrisy. That Mother Jones story above concerned a December meeting in which “top brass from three dozen of the most powerful groups in liberal politics” gathered to discuss “the challenges facing the left and what to do to beat back the deep-pocketed conservative movement.” They “closed with a pledge of money and staff resources to build a national, coordinated campaign around three goals,” the first of which was–you guessed it–“getting big money out of politics.”

And whereas in Watergate the press, namely the Washington Post, played a crucial role in investigating the scandal, in this case the most important journalist in the scandal is the one who benefited (or at least thought he would) from the improper recording–David Corn, author of that ridiculous “scoop.”

Unlike the Washington Post, Mother Jones cannot be called an independent media organization. Its report on the January meeting revealed that Mother Jones itself had a representative there, albeit “a non-editorial employee.” The conservative CNSNews.com, which like Mother Jones is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, reports that leftist billionaire George Soros has donated $1.16 million to the Media Consortium, of which Mother Jones is a member.

Yet the Post itself responded to the Kentucky scandal with puffery, not investigation. “David Corn says one good scoop may have led to another,” the paper’s Paul Farhi exulted. “And might even lead to still others, too. . . . Just like that, Corn and Mother Jones had their second major bombshell in seven months.”

The Post’s Eric Wemple, by contrast, acknowledged with wry understatement that the Corn story was lacking in “great stuff.” But the main point of Wemple’s piece was to insist that Corn faces no legal liability of his own in the case. Corn was evidently relieved to hear this: He tweeted a link to Wemple’s post yesterday, notwithstanding its acknowledgment that his bombshell was a bomb.

While we agree Corn is unlikely to be prosecuted or found civilly liable in the case, the case Wemple cites is not quite the free pass he imagines it to be.

Read the whole thing.

Later in Taranto’s column, among his list of shorter hit and run blogging style updates is this:

Man Gets 8 Years for Reading From Teleprompter–Now That Would Be News
“Man Gets 7 Years for Stealing Obama’s Teleprompter”–headline, WMAQ-TV website (Chicago), April 12

Heh. Telepromper XD-235 could not reached for comment.

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