Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Paper of Record Vs. The St. Louis Paper of Record

Following up on Kevin's post, I think Jake Wagman did a nice job of following up on the New York Times anonymous claims, digging in and getting some info, and presenting the relevant facts that people need to make up their own mind. More of this, please.

New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny had previously cited an unnamed "top party official" to suggest that McCaskill actually campaigned against the DNC being held in St. Louis:
Ms. McCaskill, one of the president’s closest friends in the Senate, took her concerns directly to the White House, according to party leaders familiar with the selection process. She argued that her re-election could be complicated if the convention was held in St. Louis, because the Democratic gathering will almost certainly attract protesters and compete for fund-raising.
Of course, the New York Times does not have a great track record with anonymous sources, considering that it was the paper most responsible for the belief that Iraq had secret stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction based entirely on anonymous (and extremely questionable) sources. But Wagman takes it a step further than speculation and gets quotes from a couple of the people most involved in fighting for the convention in St. Louis, Mayor Slay and St. Louis City Dems head Brian Wahby. From Wagman's article:
"Absolutely ludicrous," said Brian Wahby, co-chair of the convention host committee. "We had no bigger champion than Claire McCaskill."

While distancing herself from Obama may help her re-election chances in Missouri -- where the president's approval ratings are below the national average -- the enthusiasm generated by a St. Louis convention would have certainly made up for, if not eclipsed, any potential liability.

Political psychology aside, Democrats say that nobody wanted a St. Louis convention more than McCaskill, who lives in Kirkwood.

Mayor Francis Slay tweeted that he had no doubts about her "unwavering support." The party's national spokesman called her a "one person Chamber of Commerce."
Now I don't know Wahby or Slay very well, but my sense is that they have a pretty strong notion of loyalty: I seriously doubt they would be this supportive of McCaskill if she had sabotaged the DNC bid. As Wagman points out, it's actually not mutually exclusive that McCaskill might have been aware of some political costs but nevertheless have been a strong champion for the convention. My guess is that either the reporter or the anonymous "top party official" might have heard some of the concerns expressed either by McCaskill or someone else, and interpreted those concerns a little too strongly. The reporter should have spoken to more people on the St. Louis committee to get a better sense of McCaskill's efforts.

Also worth noting, Chris King at the St. Louis American is doing an excellent job following up with the New York Times and is documenting it on Twitter.

This round goes to the St. Louis paper(s) of record.

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