The right-wing noise machine is in full attack mode against Harry Reid over comments he allegedly made on a conference call with several bloggers, including John and me, earlier this week. (John and I don’t recall Reid saying what is being claimed.)
Greg Sargent has the background:
One of the big stories of the day is this front-page piece in The Politico that claims that Harry Reid blasted General Peter Pace as “incompetent” and described General David Petraeus in similar terms on a recent conference call with liberal bloggers.
The story has already sparked an uproar, and the conservatives have jumped all over it. It was linked on Drudge, and John McCain sent out a press release attacking Reid over it. And White House press secretary Tony Snow use it to hammer Reid as anti-military in today’s White House briefing. Snow brought up the Politico story himself, saying that it was “outrageous” for Reid to be “issuing slanders” toward commanders “in a time of war.”
But we’ve just spoken with three of the prominent liberal bloggers who say they were on the call, and they all say they don’t remember Reid saying anything like this. One flatly denies that he said it.
Like I mentioned, John and I were on the call and we don’t recall it either. And, an update, BarbinMD, McJoan and Kagro X, who were also on the call, don’t remember hearing the alleged comments either.
Knowing Harry Reid, if he’s going to call someone out for not doing their job, he’d say it right to Pace and/or Petraeus. He doesn’t need us bloggers to be his conduit.
But, then again, what difference does it make?
If Pace is so competent, why is he losing his job as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff while we are in the middle of a war?
Is Tony Snow telling us that it’s Pace’s competence that has led us to where we are in Iraq? Pace is being fired as our top military commander either because he’s incompetent (which is fine) or for purely political reasons (which is not fine in the middle of a war), so which one is it? Either way, Bush made the decision to get rid of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs “in a time of war.” And now that Harry Reid agrees with Bush for once, he’s the bad guy? Then who is to blame for how horribly things are going in Iraq? Not Bush, apparently. And not the military commanders either, we’re now being told. So does the White House blame the troops, or did some magic pixie run the war into the ground when nobody was looking?
This is a vintage trick from the right wing. Take something that’s based on a rumor, and that isn’t a problem even if it’s true, and try to turn it in to a story. The Politico article doesn’t even have an attributable source as Greg noted:
The Politico story, which was written by John Bresnahan, only attributes the claim that Reid disparaged the generals to “several sources familiar with the interview,” without saying whether these sources were on the call. It contains no direct quote of Reid beyond the one word “incompetent.” It goes on to say that Reid “made similar disparaging remarks” about Petraeus, without quoting or paraphrasing any.
Um, bloggers aren’t shy. If any of us had a story to break from a conference call that was on-the-record (and it was), we would. And no offense to the Politico, but we’d write it on our own blogs first, thank you very much.