The intrepid team of weasels at Breitbart News have published an “exclusive” scoop that threatens to sink the political career of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell participated in a conference call with Karl Rove’s Crossroads PAC and a couple of dozen conservative donors wherein they discussed the political strategies for future electoral victories.
The article on Breitbart News was authored by Matthew Boyle, a notoriously dishonest reject from Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller. Amongst his previous work for Breitbart was an article that invented the existence of ObamaCars, free vehicles that would allegedly be given out to illegal immigrants. He should be writing for The Onion.
In Boyle’s latest piece of fiction he claims to have an anonymous source who was on the conference call with McConnell and Rove and had some juicy tidbits to expose. The opening paragraph of Boyle’s article declared that…
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on a conference call organized by Karl Rove’s Crossroads organization for large donors and their advisers on Oct. 30 that the Tea Party movement, in his view, is a ‘nothing but a bunch of bullies’ that he plans to ‘punch … in the nose’”
Oh my lord. Mitch McConnell is threatening to assault the noses of some Tea Party bullies. And it must be true because there isn’t any indication in that paragraph that the remarks were conveyed by an unknown third party with no proof.
McConnell has had prior run-ins with Tea Party noses. [Author's Note: You cannot imagine the willpower it took to avoid saying that "Tea Party noses are running."] A couple of months ago McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, who was hired specifically to appeal to Tea Party voters in Kentucky, was recorded telling a colleague about his reluctant association with McConnell. Benton said…
“Between you and me, I’m sort of holdin’ my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand [Paul] in ’16.”
Subsequent to that gaffe, the McConnell campaign released a lighthearted attempt at damage control showing McConnell standing next to Benton who was holding his nose. But now that we know how McConnell really feels about those Tea Party guys, perhaps Benton isn’t avoiding the stench. Maybe he just got slugged in the schnoz by the scrappy minority leader.
Ordinarily, embarrassing revelations about Republican politicians would be a welcome treat. And this one fits the bill because McConnell has previously expressed concerns about fringe candidates mounting primary challenges against sitting Republican senators and then losing winnable seats to Democrats. Boyle’s source told him that McConnell explicitly attacked the Tea Party and some of it’s rising stars like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.
Upon reading Boyle’s article, however, there were some gaping holes that a conscientious reader could not ignore. For instance, McConnell is a highly partisan, right-wing, attack machine, but he isn’t stupid. It seems highly implausible that he would make derogatory remarks amount a significant bloc of constituents during a telephone conference call on which he doesn’t know who might be listening. What’s more, by citing an anonymous source in this sort of political dust-up, Boyle prevents his readers from having any sense of who is making these charges. It might very well be a supporter of Matt Bevin, the Tea Party candidate who is challenging McConnell in his own Kentucky primary.
Boyle did include a response from a spokesman for Karl Rove who flatly denied the charge that McConnell had demeaned either the Tea Party or Cruz:
“Your source is ascribing things to the call that simply were never said [...] nothing about the Tea Party or Sens. Cruz or Lee.”
That unambiguous denial didn’t stop Boyle from posting an article that maligned McConnell. As it turns out, there was good reason to be suspicious of Boyle’s exclusive. Washington Examiner reporter Charlie Spiering did what real reporters actually do. He contacted Rove’s people and arranged to hear a recording of the conference call. In his column he noted that…
“McConnell’s comments about dealing with “schoolyard bullies” by punching them in the nose, as reported by Breitbart News, were accurate but were explicitly directed at the Senate Conservatives Fund, not the Tea Party or a specific conservative senator.”
So it appears that Boyle’s source was something less than credible, which is something that wouldn’t much bother Breitbart or Boyle. It is no secret that the BreitBrats are openly hostile to establishment Republicans and that they frequently promote Tea Party challengers. It would be consistent with their agenda for a mysterious McConnell critic to surface and assign comments to him that would harm his reelection effort. And Boyle is just the guy to invent a controversy that would help a candidate running against McConnell. It wouldn’t be the first time that Boyle has come to the aid of McConnell’s opponent. He’s written at least six other articles for Breitbart that feature Bevin favorably and McConnell disparagingly.
Despite the Examiner’s debunking of Boyle’s source, there has been no retraction on the Breitbart website. That’s typical of their shoddy brand of dishonest journalism. Even so, it’s hard to know who to root for in this affair. McConnell the repugnant, Republican pugilist, or Boyle the disreputable, right-wing hack. I must admit, though, it’s a highly entertaining show.