August 5, 2007

Another Story About Jeri Thompson Hits The Front Page

Today, the Washington Post joins the New York Times in its passion to write exposés about Jeri Thompson, the wife of presidential candidate Fred Thompson. With two glaring exceptions, the piece actually appears rather balanced and fair, although it appears that Republican wives get a lot more critical attention than Democratic wives in this cycle:

In the nascent Thompson campaign -- anticipated with high hopes by many conservatives unsatisfied with the current crop of GOP candidates -- Jeri Thompson plays a role arguably as influential as those of two better-known spouses of Democratic candidates, Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards. She helps shape her husband's conservative message and image, has been a strong voice urging him to run and recently helped instigate a shake-up that pushed aside Thompson's first campaign manager and his research director. ...

The current GOP presidential field provides two examples of the political perils of a controversial spouse. In 1999, in the midst of Sen. John McCain's first presidential campaign, his wife, Cindy, addressed her previous addiction to painkillers, which eventually led her to steal drugs from her nonprofit medical group. Rudolph W. Giuliani's third wife, Judith, has endured stories about her previous marriages and her penchant for expensive shopping.

Even before her husband's campaign is official, Jeri Thompson has had her share of publicity. She has had to fend off insinuations about her age and good looks -- including a New York Times reference to her as a "trophy wife." And some advisers inside the Thompson campaign have anonymously criticized the strong hand she has taken in running it.

So what are the two glaring exceptions? John Solomon and Alec MacGillis decided to focus on Jeri's credit history and previous boyfriend for most of the middle part of this article. The judgments and wage garnishments on petty debts are part of the public record, but I don't recall hearing much about Michelle Obama's credit history, nor did the mainstream media talk much about Elizabeth Edwards' debts before her marriage. They do, however, manage to work in gossip about Judith Giuliani and rehash Cindy McCain's battle with painkillers.

As far as the ex-boyfriend is concerned, it's difficult to tell why he matters at all. Again, Jeri isn't running for president, and whether she had a live-in boyfriend in her 20s hardly seems relevant or anyone else's business. Bernard Alvey gets to have his financial woes splashed across the Washington Post for no other reason that his ex-girlfriend married someone famous. Exactly when will the Post start recounting the sexual history of Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Edwards, and Tipper Gore?

Apart from this, the article isn't half-bad -- because half of it is all we have left after this irrelevance. It's an interesting look into Jeri Thompson's political experience and her growth into a focused person capable of strong support for her husband. It's too bad that Solomon and MacGillis couldn't have resisted the temptation to troll for mud.


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» WaPo flunks basic fact-checking by ignoring No. 2 from BeldarBlog
Entitled The Truth About Jeri Thompson, this post by WaPo staffer Alec MacGillis on the newspaper's campaign blog, The Trail, follows up on a Sunday, August 5th front-page news article from MacGillis and his colleague John Solomon that was entitled The... [Read More]

Comments (24)

Posted by Jim C | August 5, 2007 11:52 AM


I don't think this was so much about Jerri Thompson as it was about beating up on Republicans in general. They just threw out a bunch of dirty laundry on everyone on the "right" side of the Presidential election, and completely ignored the left side. Unfortunately, this is just more typical media bias. And, it'll only get worse as November '08 approaches.

Posted by Bennett | August 5, 2007 11:55 AM

Presumably the reporters included juicy details about the woman's sexual and financial history because they presume that likely Republican voters would weigh these factors in deciding whether or not to support her husband (whereas the assumption is that likely Dem voters wouldn't care about similar stories on Dem spouses). I question those assumptions but I don't write for a major news daily.

Anyone associated with a person planning to run for President has to expect this kind of thing. If you want to occupy the White House, there's a very high price to pay. But as I've said before, I think that's about right. If you can't handle the heat that comes with campaigning for President, you and your family probably won't be able to handle the incredible pressures of the Presidency. I'm just happy nobody's interested in trolling through my past.

Posted by filistro | August 5, 2007 12:02 PM

drip... drip... drip...

Posted by TallDave | August 5, 2007 12:12 PM

So, when do we get the article about Elizabeth Edwards and the batshit-crazy bloggers she hired and then had to fire?

Posted by Ray | August 5, 2007 12:13 PM

The article missed the most important revelation: Despite questions about their "controversial" spouse's, both McCain and Giuliani won their respective elections.

Keep digging up dirt and posting it in public about a candidate's family history and it may actually help that candidate as people will start to sympathize with them due to the unrelenting attacks on their families. People tend to protect their families and those protective tendencies can, and does, extend to others as well, like candidates for public office. Rarely, if ever, has a candidate lost a campaign because the past history of their family members.

Posted by Stormy70 | August 5, 2007 12:26 PM

How much revenue did the Post lose last year? Looks like they are continuing their descent into tabloid, left-wing territory.

I won't visit their website ever again. The comments on that story were some of the most despicable I have read. The Washington Post has turned into a hate site, and can do without me rewarding their bile.

Posted by filistro | August 5, 2007 12:28 PM

This is not an attack on a family member. Make no mistake... it's an attack on a candidate.

The narrative being carefully set up is that Fred Thompson is lazy and unserious, and is being used as a steppingstone to power by his ambitious, low-class, YOUNG wife.

(Did I mention that she's YOUNG?)

The longer he takes to get into the race and knock this down, the more damaging it will become. Once these memes take hold in the public consciousness (even if they have no shred of truth) they are almost impossible to eradicate.

Posted by Teresa | August 5, 2007 1:05 PM

Oh c'mon! These stories about Jeri Thompson are no different than the millions of stories re Hillary's days working for the Rose Law Firm. Somehow Whitewater was a legit story and Jeri's garnished wages aren't? As far as Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edward's credit history, maybe, just maybe they actually had the good taste and sense to pay their bills on time. I'm sure Drudge or Fox will dig up any bad checks if not.

Posted by rpinkley | August 5, 2007 1:39 PM

I want to see some stories on Hillarys' wife in the mainstream media! After all doesn't Monicas', boyfriends', wifes', wife deserve some attention?

Posted by Teresa | August 5, 2007 1:48 PM

Rpinkly writes:

"I want to see some stories on Hillarys' wife in the mainstream media! After all doesn't Monicas', boyfriends', wifes', wife deserve some attention?"


I assume you were either born in the year 2007 and are either a baby genius or are being ironic. God knows the Clinton's dirty laundry (down to the stained blue dress) has been gone over ad nauseum in the last twenty years. Books, TV, congressional hearings.... puh-leeze.

Posted by Carol Herman | August 5, 2007 3:34 PM

Well, I guess that piece of skin called "virginity," has finally lost its edge.

Back when I was a kid, and Herman Wouk was writing Marjorie Morningstar; where she lost her virginity to Noel Airman. The poor girl had to cry her way out of it, when the doctor she was dating, proposed. Until then? Supposedly, he never knew.

I'm so glad we've driven a Mack Truck through all of that hooey. But there was a time, also now long gone, that the bridal bedsheets were hung outside, so everyone could see the blood stains. (What if the poor guy had erectile dysfunction? Is that how the "lies" would be invented? As both the bride and groom would think about what they could drip onto the bedsheets to make them look "real?")

There's still a lot of sickness surrounding the myths. Including the one that there's a "prince charming" out there. Isn't.

And, life's complicated.

At least John mcCain and Fred Thompson look a lot happier married than Bubba does.

But if you want marriages to cover up the sins of the couple not liking each too too much; you don't have to go any further than the Clinton's. And, they're looking for another shot at 4-years in the White House. Heaven's Ta'Betsy.

Posted by Ray | August 5, 2007 3:42 PM

"Somehow Whitewater was a legit story and Jeri's garnished wages aren't?"

"Whitewater" involved, amongst other things, a direct connection between the Clinton's and Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan. That bank failed in the 80'and that hurt a lot of people through lost deposits. The only person hurt by Teri's garnished wages was Teri herself. There really is no comparison between the two.

So, what's more legit; exposure of the Clinton's involvement in the Whitewater affair or Teri's credit history?

Posted by Teresa | August 5, 2007 4:07 PM

Well, Ray, I'd say that the hospital that Jeri still owes $1700 to is hurt as well as the people who are charged higher prices for medical care because other folks walk out without paying their bills. Isn't the Republican party the party of personal responsibility? Esp considering that Fred & Jeri could easily afford to pay that bill.

Posted by philw | August 5, 2007 4:26 PM

Notice the MSM lying and bias. Posting a picture of Fred with his daughter.

Posted by Ray | August 5, 2007 5:15 PM

Hospital costs are rising because Teri owed $1700? That's a real stretch! Lots of young people run up debts. I know I did, and it took years to pay them off.

Terri and Fred didn't even know each other when she had her wages garnished, so just how can this affect Fred's possible campaign? Teri isn't running for office.

Also, I thought the Democratic Party was the party of forgiveness for past discretions? Or is that only reserved for fellow Democrats?

You, like the post, are attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill in a blatant attempt to smear Teri and her husband and hope to use this as a means of undermining Republican support. That isn't going to work, just as similar attempts by conservatives to smear the family members of liberals continually fail. Go ahead and keep trying to smear her, you'll only garner sympathy for them both and that will make Fred a stronger candidate.

Posted by Thomas Jackson | August 5, 2007 5:26 PM

So the Washington Post prints another hit piece and demonstrates its leftwing bias.

So? Does anyone pay attention to the MSM anymore or credit it with real investigative reporting or honesty?

Doesn't resepct for the MSM hover somewhere below the esteem accorded to a dead badger.

Posted by rpinkley | August 5, 2007 6:47 PM

I suspect MSM respect hoovers around the same respect accorded congress critters 16% in general, 3% on the war. By the way clowns add me to the list in contempt of congress no more contemptable place on the planet. Maybe Rupert Murdoch will stir the MSM to a modicum of honesty then again.....

Posted by edward cropper | August 5, 2007 8:27 PM

Jerri Thompson is just one of the problems, Fred Thompson is the bigger problem. This guy has come out of the moderate woodwork and has convinced a lot of fearful conservatives that he is for real.
He was Howard Baker's boy and Howard Baker was never a conservative. His stand on abortion and other key conservative issues is questionable, and his old man appearance will scare the daylights out of young voters even if they are inclined to vote for him, which I doubt.

Posted by amr | August 5, 2007 8:49 PM

"when will the Post start recounting the sexual history of Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Edwards, and Tipper Gore?". Hey, how about the sexual history of that spouse we all know is waiting to be the first gentlemen. Not!

Posted by Nedra Lee | August 5, 2007 11:34 PM

Ray, I haven't been paying too much attention to the subject ... mainly cause it's too early. Fred's wife's name is JERI not
Teri or terri....
Just so you know.

Posted by Teresa | August 6, 2007 12:16 AM

Ray you wrote:

"Lots of young people run up debts. I know I did, and it took years to pay them off."

That would be the difference between you and Jeri then -- you paid your bills. I know it took me three years paying in installments to pay my hospital bill off after the birth of our second child, but I paid it. Sounds like Jeri got a good job in Washington? Why could she not pay her bills? What is her excuse for not paying them now? To me this is the kind of thing that makes me mad about candidates and their families. They preach responsibility, but apparently that is just for the "little people" not themselves.

Posted by viking01 | August 6, 2007 12:21 AM

Always remember that when the activist media failed at smearing the great Ronald Reagan they went after Nancy. Typical liberal envy where if they lack it they must attack it.

They can't laud Hillary's two-bagger appearance, disbarred husband and her undeniable abrasiveness so the NY Times and Washington Post have to complain about polite, photogenic Jeri. Amazing how the Lefty coverage of Lurch's (he was in Vietnam, by the way, in case the press forgot to mention it) wife Tah-ray-za in 2004 always seemed worshipful and restrained.

Also in the news:

The New York Times will be reducing the format size of their print edition. No matter. Until the Times becomes published as a 4x4 inch format 350 square sheets on a roll and of a gentler, ink-free fiber I probably won't be a subscriber. Okay, maybe if they print Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich columns on each roll but it had better be quilted for softness.

Posted by swabjockey05 | August 6, 2007 4:29 AM


Posted by Ray | August 6, 2007 12:05 PM

Nedra Lee,

Oops, I see that now. Thank you. (Talk about embarrassed! My apologies to Jeri.)

"To me this is the kind of thing that makes me mad about candidates and their families."

You can be as angry as you wish but it will not make any difference other than to increase your blood pressure.

You keep claiming that Jeri (not Teri, my bad) has yet to pay off the balance of her debt but your only "proof" is the Post's account of existing court records. It is possible that the court records were not updated even tho the debt was fully repaid or was relieved by other means such as credit mediation. Did the Post try to verify the accuracy of the court records and inquire if the debt was finally relieved? Apparently not.

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