"McConnell Aide Admits He Pushed Baseless Smears, But Lies About His Supposed ‘Skepticism’"
Last week, ThinkProgress reported that Don Stewart, the communications director for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), had sent an e-mail to reporters encouraging them to cover the right-wing campaign to smear 12-year old Graeme Frost and his family. In the e-mail, Stewart claimed that research by conservative bloggers proved that Democrats did a bad job “vetting this family.”
Stewart acknowledged yesterday in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal that he “pointed out” the smear campaign to reporters. Stewart comically asserts that he “raised skepticism as to the content” of the right-wing bloggers’ research:
He explained yesterday that such e-mails are “part of regular conversation with reporters.”
“I pointed out something that had been in the blogs for a couple of days and had been of increasing interest, but I also raised skepticism as to the content,” Stewart said.
Though Stewart did eventually send subsequent e-mails to reporters, telling them “there’s no story there” and that “the family is legit,” his initial e-mail was anything but skeptical. In fact, he trumpeted the bloggers’ unfounded smears and used them to attack Democrats:
Bloggers have done a little digging and turned up that the Dad owns his own business (and the building it’s in), seems to have some commercial rental income and Graeme and a sister go to a private school that, according to its website, costs about $20k a year for each kid despite the news profiles reporting a family income of only $45k for the Frosts. Could the Dems really have done that bad of a job vetting this family?
The only “skepticism” Stewart showed in his original email was a veiled partisan attack that came in the form of a question. He never “vetted” the research he was propagating to reporters.
As Greg Sargent notes, “when Michelle Malkin pointed her finger at the Frosts and started howling, McConnell’s staff immediately joined in the fun — that is, until they realized that they had a big dud on their hands.”