Ron Radosh

Mother Jones Releases a Secret McConnell Tape — and Reveals Its Own Lack of Morality and Its Hypocrisy

The American Left is at it again. This time, Mother Jones Washington, D.C., correspondent David Corn reported that last February 2, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held a private meeting with his aides to discuss in particular how to develop attacks against possible Democratic contenders for his Senate seat, especially the actress Ashley Judd. How did the magazine know this? Corn reveals that they received a tape of the meeting from an anonymous source. The campaign aide who began the meeting started this way:

I refer to [Judd] as sort of the oppo research situation where there’s a haystack of needles, just because truly, there’s such a wealth of material.

They had many reasons to oppose Judd. As a self-proclaimed “radical,” Judd is pro-choice, for gay marriage, and, as the aide said, “anti-coal.” But what Corn sees as the real scandal is her well-known mental health issues. As the aide continued to state:

She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.

This is hardly a surprise, since, as the aide notes, the information comes from Judd’s own autobiography. As Corn himself writes, “In her 2011 memoirs, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, Judd recounts her past bouts with depression, noting that she had considered suicide as a sixth-grader and that as an adult she had checked into a rehab center for depression.” One might rightfully ask, “What’s the big deal?”  Is it that Corn revealed the tape of a secret meeting, thereby getting himself and his magazine publicity? Or is it that he told the world that in any political fight, the McConnell campaign would bring to light the question of Judd’s mental stability as an issue for the electorate to consider?

If the latter, is this not a just issue to be raised? Do people voting for a senator to represent them want to elect someone prone to hospitalization for depression? Indeed, Corn even reprints Judd’s own words about how she felt returning to the United States from abroad which, he writes, McConnell would have made public to make Judd seem like a weirdo. Here’s what Judd herself said:

I call it the American anesthesia. You know, I come back to this country. I freak out in airports. The colors, the sounds, all those different ways of packaging the same snack but trying to, you know, make it look like it’s distinct and different and convince consumers that they have to have it. I mean all of that. The last time I came home from a trip, I absolutely flipped out when I saw pink fuzzy socks on a rack. I mean, I can never anticipate what is going to push me over the edge.

But in a few weeks, you know, I’m driving along smooth roads and I think nothing of it. I’m, you know, choosing between four different brands of cereal from plastic dispensers so that I don’t have to have, you know, ugly, mismatched boxes on my shelf, and I don’t think anything of it.

Well, it does make Judd seem rather weird, and she said this herself in a speech. If a Republican said this, wouldn’t any Democratic opponent jump at the chance to make this public? Is it so outrageous? Of course not.

What is outrageous, however, is that David Corn and the other MJ editors see nothing wrong in releasing a tape of a private strategy session of Republicans. How did they get this? Clearly, a trusted aide would not jeopardize his or her job to secretly tape a meeting and then give it to a major left-wing publication. And that is precisely why McConnell has accused the magazine of possibly bugging his headquarters, and has asked the FBI to investigate.

“We’ve always said the left will stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Nixonian tactics to bug campaign headquarters is above and beyond,” campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement reported by the Washington Post.

Benton is on solid ground. Moreover, it is the same David Corn who, in a previous life, was in the forefront of those on the Left who condemned secret wiretapping as a violation of American’s civil liberties. Writing at The Lid, a Jewish website, Jeff Dunetz points out that Corn wrote the following regarding NSA wiretaps of suspected terrorists:

It’s not every day a former deputy attorney general testifies that the White House violated the law–and did so knowingly. But that seemed to happen this morning when former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified before the Senate judiciary committee about the once-secret NSA warrantless wiretapping program that targeted citizens and residents in the United States.

So Corn is concerned about secret wiretapping of those who might be our very real enemies, and who might use their power to harm us in a terrorist action. Their civil liberties are being violated, and Corn is upset. But obviously his concern does not extend to violating the rights of political activists preparing for a campaign, even though every side, Democrat and Republican, engages in opposition research.

Moreover, when Corn was D.C. editor of The Nation, he wrote the following:

For months, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and other administration aides have been defending–even championing–what they call the “terrorist surveillance program,” under which the National Security Agency can intercept communications that involve an American citizen or resident without a warrant if one party to the communication is overseas and suspected of being linked to anti-American terrorists). They have maintained that the president has the authority as commander in chief to authorize such surveillance. Though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) generally forbids wiretapping without warrants, the White House has contended that Bush is not bound by the limitations of that law. This claim–arising from the Bush administration’s view of expansive (even supreme) presidential power–set up a constitutional clash. And in the first round of the legal battle, Judge Taylor has knocked out the White House argument.

In her decision, she accused the administration of dishonestly arguing that the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and others (including journalists, researchers and lawyers) against the NSA wiretapping should be dismissed because it would expose state secrets.

Accusing Bush of acting like a king or a dictator, Corn added that “democracy, though, is not easy. And a commander in chief has to abide by the rules, as various courts have now ruled. The administration’s King George approach to governance has taken another blow. But it’s royally unlikely this president is going to accept the decision and give up his claim to the throne.”

Well, we finally know how the Left sees things. Taping private events is bad when done to ferret out potential terrorists and find out about their plots — their rights are being violated. But secret taping of political opponents on the Right is fair game. We all know that the Right has no civil liberties worth protecting. Corn is of the generation that read the late Herbert Marcuse in the ’60s. The author of the theory of “repressive tolerance,” Marcuse argued that any means were necessary to defeat the aims of conservatives, even if it meant engaging in depredations against democracy and civil liberties. Fascists had no rights, and one’s opponents on the Right, of course, were all potential fascists to the Left. Remember that in the 1950s, the American Communist Party called President Harry S. Truman, the man who favored nationalized health care, a Fascist.

Call it what you will, but David Corn’s article might lead to the FBI finding that indeed McConnell’s headquarters were bugged. But then, McConnell is a potential fascist himself, and to the Left, violating his liberties is only a defensive action. And if it turns out that  Mother Jones did illegally bug his staff and meeting rooms, they will naturally condemn any action against them as a right-wing plot against freedom of the press.

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