Thursday, April 07, 2005

Memo Mystery...solved?

Just moments ago, it was learned that a staffer (legal counsel) for Florida republican senatorMel Martinez admitted to writing the suspicious Schiavo "talking points" memo. Brian Darling, the staffer, immediately tendered his resignation which was accepted by Martinez. Martinez states that he never fully read the memo, but had shared it with Senator Tom Harkin as they were working together on the Schiavo case. According to this story:
(Martinez) said he had not read the one-page memo. He said he inadvertently passed it to Sen. Tom Harkin (news, bio, voting record) (D-Iowa), who had worked with him on the issue. After that, other Senate aides gave the memo to reporters for ABC News and The Washington Post.

Harkin said in an interview that Martinez handed him the memo on the Senate floor, in hopes of gaining his support for the bill giving federal courts jurisdiction in the Florida case in an effort to restore the Florida woman's feeding tube. "He said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here," Harkin said.

Powerline, specifically John Hinderacker (Hindrocket), who has been at the forefront of this story ever since it broke, had this to say just moments ago:
Assuming this is for real, it solves the mystery of where the "talking points memo" came from. It leaves open the question of why ABC and the Washington Post reported the memo the way they did. Mike Allen, the Post's reporter, has previously said that the memo came from a Democratic Senator who said he got it from a Republican Senator. That is consistent with the current AP account. But the story that Allen wrote with a Post colleague on March 19 is not consistent with the current version of the facts. On March 19, Allen wrote:

Republican officials declared, in a memo that was supposed to be seen only by senators, that they believe the Schiavo case "is a great political issue" that could pay dividends with Christian conservatives, whose support is essential in midterm elections such as those coming up in 2006.

A one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (news, bio, voting record) (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year.
The latest story also confirms how absurd it was for ABC, the Post, and other news outlets to label the anonymous memo a "GOP talking points memo." We have no idea who the unidentified Martinez staffer is, but he apparently was not authorized to speak for his boss, and most certainly was not empowered to speak for the leadership of the Republican party. We'll try to track him down and get his story, but in the meantime, this story serves as an object lesson in how the mainstream media can take a dopey, one-page memo by an unknown staffer and use it to discredit the entire Republican party.

I was wrong in this instance with regard to my suspicion that the memo was authored by democrat operatives.. but the fact that the MSM from the beginning maintained that this was a party-wide and party-endorsed memo is spurious at best and fraudulent at worst. Although we may not see a flight of democrat operatives, there are still some MSM news editors who have some 'splainin' left to do.