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July 29, 2004
Conason, Teresa's Waterboy

Joe Conason has always believed the best defense is a good offense, and so this morning Conason goes on the attack against the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a newspaper owned by (cue Toccata in D-Minor) Richard Mellon Scaife in defense of Teresa Heinz Kerry. This follows the "shove it" kerfuffle that Conason twists into a feminist manifesto, rather than her crude attempt to bully her way out of a lie:

In the case of Teresa Heinz Kerry, many in the media determined that she was trouble long before they even had a glimpse of her. Smart and dedicated, wealthy and opinionated, globally conscious and foreign-born, Ms. Heinz Kerry isnt the typical political spouse our parochial press is accustomed to covering. So they were waiting for her to say something like what she said on July 25, after a reception for Democratic delegates from her home state of Pennsylvania.

That was when she told an editorial writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to "shove it."

Now the use of such direct language by a politicians wife is no doubt shocking to the sensibilities of most journalists, especially the older male contingent. Its one thing for the Republican Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates to berate a reporter as an "asshole" when they think nobody is listening, as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did four years ago, or for the Vice President to growl "Go fuck yourself" on the Senate floor, as Mr. Cheney did a few weeks ago. Boys will be boys, even into late middle age, but girls must ever remain passive and demure.

Conason then goes off into the deep weeds by rehashing a laundry list of supposed Scaife excesses, as if that had any bearing on the issue at hand. It's a dodge that Conason and the left routinely use when Democrats do something embarrassing, like, say, take highly classified documents home in their pants and socks and then say that the dog must have eaten them. Instead of defending the act, they attack the messenger with dark conspiracies of media owners and the "timing" of news leaks. Conason uses the feminism card here as well, which allows him to resonate with an important special-interest group and energize them to Teresa's defense as well.

But the problem isn't that Heinz Kerry told someone to get stuffed, it's that she lied about her speech, lied again, and then rudely shut down a reporter trying to determine why she inferred that the Bush administration was un-American. Conason never bothers to give his readers that context in his article. CNN, in a contemporaneous news story, gives its readers what Conason tries to hide:

Heinz Kerry's comment came Sunday after she told a group of voters, "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics."

As she was leaving, Colin McNickle, the Tribune-Review's editorial page editor, asked her what she had meant by, in his words, "un-American activity."

According to an exchange posted on the paper's Web site, she denied having said "activity" and also denied saying "un-American."

After stepping away and speaking briefly with Democratic organizers of the event, she returned and asked the reporter whether he worked for the Tribune-Review. He said he did.

"Understandable. You said something I didn't say, now shove it," she told him.

I've heard the tape, and she called her opponents out for using "creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits," something that even CBS confirms. She deviated from her prepared speech, obviously, and just as obviously knew she blew it when Colin McNickle caught her at it. Rather than answer the question, however, she attack McNickle for actually covering her speech rather than giving her a pass just because she's a woman, and a well-known crank on top of that.

So which reporter treated Heinz Kerry like an equal, and which one treated her like a shrinking violet in need of the protection of men?

Conason aptly demonstrates the hypocrisy of the left when it comes to feminisim and free speech. They're all for free speech as long as only the Republicans are criticized or even questioned about their content. Conason would have no problem with the New York Times insinuating over and over again that Republican criticism on Max Cleland's voting record in the Senate equates to an attack on his patriotism instead of legitimate concern during a re-election bid, but heaven forbid someone ask the delicate Teresa what she means when she calls her opponents "un-American".

Don't fall for Conason's sleight of hand. If Conason wants Teresa on a pedestal, he shouldn't use feminism as an argument for the heavy lifting required.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 29, 2004 5:59 AM

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