On Tuesday, the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb posted that that “a Senate aide” told him the White House threatened to put “Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list” if Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) didn’t “fall into line” on health care. Though his rumor was categorically denied by both the White House and Nelson, Goldfarb’s story led 20 GOP senators to call for an investigation and Glenn Beck to accuse the White House of getting close to “treason.”
Last night, Goldfarb dismissed the denials, claiming that the proposed investigation by the Republican senators vindicated his story:
Meanwhile, both Nelson and the White House strenuously deny the allegation. A statement from White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer asserts “This rumor is absolutely false, as the people spreading it well know. This is nothing but a cynical, crass political game that is designed to maintain the status quo. Let’s be clear: the people spreading these falsehoods think nothing is wrong with a system under which families and businesses continue to bear the brunt of skyrocketing costs, insurance companies are allowed to discriminate and drop at will, and thousands of Americans lose their coverage every single day.”
They protest a little too much. I do not know this story is “absolutely false.” To the contrary, I’m confident it’s true. Twenty senators are now calling for an investigation, and each is presumably pretty well sourced in the Senate. If the charges are “absolutely false,” maybe the White House will encourage Senate Democrats to call this Republican bluff. I won’t hold my breath.
As Media Matters has noted, Goldfarb is struggling to preserve his disintegrating story as well as his own credibility. On Glenn Beck’s Fox News show last night, he retracted some of the details of his story. In an interview on WorldNetDaily’s radio show today, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) undermined Goldfarb’s claim that the GOP senators had vindicated him, saying that they called for the investigation based on “rumors” that they “haven’t confirmed.”
In a KLIN radio interview today, Nelson denied it again. He said that he had discovered “at least one of the sources” of the rumor and that those pushing the story would be “embarrassed” because “those who have started the rumors and those who’ve been speculating on it, they might have something to fear” in an investigation.
Despite the increasing headwind against the credibility of his reporting, Goldfarb had the audacity to mock another journalist, Time’s Joe Klein, today for getting “caught making things up.” Goldfarb’s proof that Klein got his story wrong? Official denials in the same vein that Nelson and the White House have denied his story.
Goldfarb responded on Twitter to questions about the consistency of his respect for official denials by saying, “Like everybody else, I believe official denials except when I have a good reason not to.”
Joe Klein responded to Goldfarb, saying that he stands by his story.