Comic Relief: Judicial Watch Reveals White House Bias Against Fox News

Judicial Watch describes itself as a “public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption.” Today they announced that they have uncovered documents from Obama’s Department of the Treasury revealing evidence of an anti-Fox News bias within the White House.

Holy moly! What a scoop. Perhaps with a little more digging these intrepid muckrakers might have even discovered the anti-Obama bias within Fox News.

First of all, having an anti-Fox News bias is not in any way indicative of government corruption. If anything, it demonstrates a clearheaded analysis of the media giant. Fox News is a 24 hour hate machine aimed at President Obama, Democrats, and progressive politics overall. It would be surprising (and stupid) if the White House were not aware of the hostility spewed by Fox News, and did not take measures to defend itself.

Judicial Watch’s pretense to independence is about as honest as the Fox News slogan “fair and balanced.” In their press release announcing the documents [pdf] they received from a Freedom of Information Act request, they carefully highlighted only the few bits that reflected poorly on the communications staff at the Treasury Department. Note that none of the emails they retrieved were actually from the White House although it is the White House they blame for the bias.

The issue encompassing this pseudo-controversy was whether Fox News was excluded from interviewing the electrifying Kenneth Feinberg, the so-called “executive pay czar” administering the TARP program. Judicial Watch spun the story in precisely the same way that Fox News did when it occurred two years ago. The Fox angle was that they had been deliberately denied press access to Feinberg at the behest of the White House. Judicial Watch cited excerpts from the emails like “…we’d prefer if you skip Fox please.” And “I am putting some dead fish in the fox cubby.”

The first citation was a direct response to a question that specifically asked whether there would be time for Fox to conduct an interview. The answer was not a rejection of Fox in particular, it was just a response that indicated there would not be enough time. MSNBC was also not in the queue for an interview at the time. The second citation was clearly a joke by staffers who were tiring of the hard time they get from Fox.

Judicial Watch failed to put these emails in context. Even worse, their press release never even mentioned the many emails that indicated that Fox had never been excluded. In fact, Fox had not requested an interview, and when they eventually did, they got one. Here are some of the excerpts that Judicial Watch left out:

[Page 5] Fox News hadn’t made a request for an interview – certainly not to me [Jake Siewert] or Jenni who was handling. When called nets to pool, a producer did raise concern about why Fox wasn’t on the first round list. To accommodate more interviews – we had dozens of requests – we cut back Feinberg’s off-camera presser and moved a Hill briefing to create a bigger window of time and added more interviews, including Fox. Once we had more time we specifically called Major [Garrett] and dragged him out of the WH briefing to see if he could do an interview. Still no request from Fox. Major had time, came to the briefing and got his interview, same slot as everyone else.

[Page 14] Important to note that Major never requested an interview. We asked him.

[Page 18] They didn’t ask for an interview – and when they finally did ask, they got one. I know it makes for a much less interesting story but it’s true.

[Page 29] I told Major it was a non-issue. And that the WH was fine with us including them (in the end.) Anita [Dunn] specifically told me she was OK.

[Page 49-50] Press Aide: Major – We are able to offer you 5 minutes with Feinberg in a round robin following the pen and pad. Will you do the interview?
Garrett: I am stuck in the WH briefing. Will call as soon as I get out.

Despite the clear evidence that there was no effort to exclude Fox News, Judicial Watch’s press release is already circulating through the conservative media merry-go-round and peddling a narrative that is demonstrably false. This is nothing more than an attempt to tarnish the White House for something they had nothing to do with and which was not even done at all. They are confident that their audience will be satisfied with the dishonest press release and will never read through the 81 pages of emails posted on their web site.

And as if to cap off the hilarity of this nonsensical melodrama, Judicial Watch included an email [page 33] that must have been swept up in their request, but was not related to the issue at hand. It was an email from a producer of the Glenn Beck Show seeking to determine if the WH was trying to “force God off our coinage.” That conspiratorial absurdity nicely frames how ridiculous and phony this whole affair is. If we didn’t know better we might assume the whole thing was a story from The Onion.

Fox News: Nothing But Sestak

Idiot FoxAnyone with a functioning brain stem is aware of the multitude of problems facing our country and world in these “interesting” times. We are currently struggling to deal with what may be the worst man-made environmental catastrophe ever. We are still in the midst of perilous economic conditions. There are two wars raging and another more amorphous terror threat that has not receded. And in addition to those critical and extraordinary affairs, there are the routine events of life that demand our attention, like jobs, crime, government, even sports and entertainment. In short, there is a flood of information that goes into the news and the editorial decisions shaping it.

However, for Fox News today it was a pretty easy decision. Their prime directive is, as always, is to keep the people as stupid as possible. Therefore, despite all of the crises facing the country, Fox chose to focus on a single issue that has almost no significance to the average American. Fox turned over much their schedule to the trifling and phony pseudo-scandal circulating around a senate race in Pennsylvania.

Joe Sestak had previously asserted that the White House offered him a job if he would decline to challenge Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary for senator in PA. Sestak turned down the offer and eventually defeated Specter. Now Fox News is trying to blow this up into a Watergate-style controversy despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing. Their tactic to escalate this story is to run it incessantly with sly aspersions to criminality that they fail utterly to support.

Perhaps the worst offender is Megyn Kelly. Her two hour program was consumed by over an hour and a half of Sestak. When she did break away from Sestak it was to report on the restoration of a religious monument in Illinois, a scholarship for an illegal immigrant, a comment by Hillary Clinton about whether the rich pay their fair share, and a woman suing an airline for not waking her when the flight landed. She never brought up the gulf oil spill, Afghanistan or the economy once.

That was no accident. That was an exercise of editorial discretion as practiced by Fox News. It wasn’t that there wasn’t any other news occurring, it was that they had already decided to make Sestak the primary story for the day. Never mind that there was very little to report, which resulted in Kelly repeating the same trivialities over and over again as she waited for something of substance to report.

During the course of her Sestak-fest, Kelly interviewed three guests in her pursuit of Fox’s fabled fairness and balance: Dana Perino, George Bush’s press secretary, Michael Mukasey, Bush’s Attorney General, and Republican congressman Darrel Issa, who has been hammering on Sestak and President Obama, and even asserted that an impeachable offense may have been committed.

Despite Kelly’s badgering, Mukasey would not indict Sestak or the White House. He repeatedly said that there doesn’t appear to be any criminal act. He even pointed out that Kelly had misrepresented the law when she supposedly quoted the U.S. code that prohibits promising “any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit…” Mukasey provided the additional context that the code only applies to positions created by Congress, which was not the case in this matter. And even as he said this, Kelly nodded and agreed, which means that she knew of her deceit from the start.

Perhaps the most disturbing segment of her show came when she was discussing the matter with Fox News correspondent Major Garrett. During this conversation Kelly asked Garrett why this is such a big story, with reporters asking about this instead of the Deep Horizon oil spill? Of course the obvious answer is that it is reporters like her who are doing the asking. How absurd is it for her to wonder why so much attention is being given to the story when she has just given 75% of her own program to it? The funny/pathetic part is that when she was wrapping up the segment with Garrett she praised him for being the only reporter who asked a question about this at the President’s press conference. In effect, she admitted that this isn’t a big story that all the reporters are asking about – it’s just Fox!

The whole Sestak affair is a fabrication invented by Fox News. There are no legal authorities or experts who believe that anything untoward occurred – even Bush’s Attorney General. This is just another attempt by the right and the right’s mouthpiece, Fox News, to smear the President and other Democrats. And they will pursue these smears to the detriment of the news product to which they they pretend to be so committed. Even to the detriment of Americans who end up being inadequately informed about the real crises that face them. And there are plenty of those.

It’s too bad that Fox isn’t in the business of reporting. It’s too bad that they would rather engage in defamation than journalism. But ultimately it will really be too bad for the country when they realize that they were deceived and made some seriously faulty decisions based on the omissions and lies they were fed by Fox News.

The Idiots Of Fox News: Garrett, Sammon, And O’Reilly Edition

I know, the headline is redundant. What’s more, this list is far from comprehensive. It is just intended to spotlight a few recent examples. I couldn’t possibly keep up with them all.

For the last Week, Major Garrett has been making it abundantly clear that he is a moron. He doesn’t seem to understand how the Internet works and he thinks that emails received by some Fox News viewers is a more important issue than health care or Afghanistan or Iran or anything else on the nation’s agenda.

Now a Fox colleague has joined him and may have surpassed his idiocy. Bill Sammon, VP and Washington managing editor, appeared this morning and was interviewed by anchor Trace Gallagher (who delivers every report as if you are a kindergartner – which may be appropriate for Fox viewers). In his attempt to prolong the manufactured pseudo-scandal over emails, Sammon explained that the White House improperly collected email data (it did not) and that it should not be retained. He then went on to speculate that the administration might destroy the alleged data and that, if they did, they would be in violation of the Presidential Records Act. So Sammon was criticizing the White House for both keeping the data and not keeping the data (he later acknowledged this paradox, but the damage he intended was done). It’s the perfect Fox News perspective. No matter what the President does, it’s wrong.

Perennial Fox News idiot, Bill O’Reilly had this to say yesterday on the President’s health care proposal:

“‘Talking Points’ watched President Obama in Colorado on Saturday, and once again I had no idea what the president was talking about. He went on and on about all kinds of stuff that seemingly only he understands. It’s kind of like a poltergeist. He can see it; nobody else can.”

“So here’s the deal. If President Obama wants more fairness in the health care industry, he has to come up with five bullet points that even I can understand. Five things that clearly tell us what Obamacare would do.”

First of all, isn’t it cute that O’Reilly refers to himself as “Talking Points,” some kind of disembodied concept that watched the President? But more to the point, he admitted that he is an idiot who has “no idea what the president was talking about.” I suppose we should respect his honesty for confessing to his inferior comprehension skills. But he goes on to complain that Obama’s plan isn’t simple enough for him and that it should have five bullet points to make it understandable to someone of his deficient mental capacity. Unfortunately, the White House ignored O’Reilly’s advice and published eight bullet points:

  • Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government
  • Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs
  • Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
  • Invest in prevention and wellness
  • Improve patient safety and quality of care
  • Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
  • Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job
  • End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions

Those three extra bullet points may be too much for Mr. “Talking Points” to grasp. It was also too difficult for him to even find this list of the President’s objectives (it took me about ten seconds. I searched Google for “White House” and “healthcare” and clicked on the first link). So O’Reilly is essentially asking for an explanation that he can understand, which is already available, but he still can’t understand it. Another perfect Fox News perspective.

Fox News’ Major Garrett Really Doesn’t Understand Email

At yesterday’s White House press briefing, Major Garrett of Fox News embarrassed himself by demonstrating his utter lack of understanding of the Internet and email. Today he is escalating his campaign to make a total ass of himself, and he is doing a magnificent job of it.

Garrett appeared on Fox News today to announce that he is pursuing White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to find out how emails, allegedly sent from the White House, were received by people who never requested them. He has even filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get to the bottom of this raging controversy. There are some rather simple and entirely innocent answers to this mystery, but Garrett can’t be bothered to investigate them. On his blog today he admitted to journalistic negligence that would make a cub reporter cringe.

“…in every instance so far, e-mailers insist the e-mail(s) they received from the White House was/were not forwarded. They are positive the e-mails arrived directly from the White House.”

“Fox cannot independently verify all of these accounts. Fox can only represent what hundreds of e-mailers have represented to me or to the network.”

So Garrett is relying on the accounts of the people who contacted him who said they were “positive” the emails came directly from the White House, but he can’t verify a single one. He is satisfied that these people whom he has never met, never questioned, never vetted, are so reliable that he is under no obligation to confirm their assertions. He produces two examples of aggrieved email recipients, one of whom complains, not of an email, but a pop-up ad containing an email from the White House. Of course, a pop-up ad cannot contain an email. It can contain ad, but Garrett didn’t verify this either and, frankly, I’m skeptical.

Click here to enlarge.
These are the people on whose “positive” assertions he was relying when filing his FOIA request. But Garrett is missing an even bigger piece of this puzzle. Apparently he never bothered to look at his very own Fox News blog on which there is a “SHARE” feature that permits anyone to send an email from that site to any other email address. And – surprise – has the very same feature. (see image at left)

I don’t know if Garrett is really this clueless about the Internet or if he is deliberately manufacturing a remarkably lame scandal. But before he gets himself in too deep, he may want to get former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to explain this series of tubes to him.

For a network/party that had no problem with the Bush administration actually monitoring and reading their emails, they are sure making a big stink out of something as innocent as a contact list from which they can unsubscribe with a click.

Update: I’m curious if Garrett’s FOIA request would violate the privacy policy of the White House web site. I know that I wouldn’t want my email, or other info that I gave to, turned over to Fox News.

Update II: Fox News received a response from the White House regarding the mysterious emails:

“The White House email list is made up of email addresses obtained solely through the White House website. The White House doesn’t purchase, upload or merge from any other list, again, all emails come from the White House website as we have no interest in emailing anyone who does not want to receive an email. If an individual received the email because someone else or a group signed them up or forwarded the email, we hope they were not too inconvenienced. Further, we suggest that they unsubscribe from the list by clicking the link at the bottom of the email or tell whomever forwarded it to them not to forward such information anymore. We are implementing measures to make subscribing to emails clearer, including preventing advocacy organizations from signing people up to our lists without their permission when they deliver petition signatures and other messages on individual’s behalf.”

As it turns out, it was third-party organizations who entered the email addresses into the White House system, not some grand conspiracy by Obama and ACORN and Bill Ayres and the Kenyan Consulate. Who knew? Well, everyone but Major Garrett and the fraternity of Foxpods.

Robert Gibbs Nails Major Garrett Of Fox News

Today’s White House press briefing contained a bit of dramedy that should serve as a model for how to treat the pseudo-journalists from Fox News.

Fox’s Major Garrett was concerned about people who claim that they have received emails from presidential advisor David Axelrod despite never having signed up for any communications from the White House. Garret prefaced his question by conflating the communications activities of the White House with those of Organizing for America or other campaign operations.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs responded that the White House does not coordinate with outside political groups. Garret persisted in inquiring as to why people who have never requested these emails should be receiving them. Gibbs told him that he could not speculate as to the source of the emails and that he would be happy to check to see if the recipients were on the White House list. Here is where Garrett went off the rails. In a fit of disbelief he pressed Gibbs:

Garrett: “I need to give you these peoples’ email so you can check them on a list?”

Garrett was clearly implying that this was some sort of scam to harvest more names for White House propaganda. Gibbs responded that he couldn’t possibly know if these people received email from the White House if he didn’t know who to look for on their list. Indeed, how could Gibbs know the origin of the emails without seeing the email? These emails could very well have been received originally by people who did sign up for them and then forwarded them to their friends and family. The secondary recipients may be the people who contacted Garrett. How could Gibbs know?

Garrett somehow takes this as a personal affront and insists that he has received emails with this complaint. He implies that Gibbs is calling him a liar. Of course Gibbs never disputed that Garret received complaints, it’s just that he still has no idea where the emails came from and is only trying explain to this to Garrett (who, by the way, also has no idea where the emails came from).

Undaunted, Garrett continues to pester Gibbs even though he cannot provide any additional substance. And he seems not to have even the most rudimentary understanding of email and how it can be forwarded. So when Garret winds up for his next pitch, Gibbs lets him have it:

Gibbs: Let me go someplace else that might be constructive.

That’s telling him. And that response would work exceedingly well for ANY encounter with Fox News. During much of this exchange, Garrett had a look of utter surprise on his face. He seemed to be shocked that Gibbs was not clairvoyant. And he also seemed to be dismayed at what he perceived as a dismissive tone from Gibbs. But anyone listening to this dialogue would agree that Gibbs would be justified in being dismissive.

Garrett, like the rest of the Fox News cabal, is overtly partisan. Most people believe that the obvious right-wing bias at Fox is limited to the primetime shouters like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and daytime’s Glenn Beck. But Garrett is the author of “The Enduring Revolution: The Inside Story of the Republican Ascendancy and Why It Will Continue.” That book was published in 2005. Its obvious partisanship is matched only by how monumentally wrong is its premise.

Look for Garrett to file a report that disparages Gibbs and accuses him of both avoiding the question and snubbing the questioner. Garrett’s pals at Fox News will probably also jump on this as an opportunity to whack the White House. But I would advise the President, and anyone contemplating an encounter with Fox News, to heed the advice of Robert Gibbs and “go someplace else that might be constructive.”

Update: For reference, the Axelrod email actually requests that it be forwarded:

“So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.”

“Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.”

The subject line for the email is: “Something worth forwarding.”

Follow up report posted 8/14/09: Garrett was on Fox News this morning to prove that he still doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand that anyone can forward emails to anyone else. People can also go online and enter someone else’s email address into an email request form. Many sites, including the White House and Fox News (click to view), have a “share this” feature where people put in email addresses of their friends and family. Garrett needs to get former Sen. Ted Stevens to explain the series of tubes to him.

The Fox News Conservative Book Promotion Channel

Anyone who watches Fox News with any frequency is painfully aware that it is little more than a marketplace for rightist propaganda and rancor. But lately, I noticed another kind of hucksterism that is rampant on the network. Several of their regular anchors and contributors are identified as authors in the graphics at the bottom of the screen. This happens often enough that I began to wonder just how widespread this practice of co-promotion of TV and publishing was. As it turns out, it is pretty damn widespread. If you were to populate your library with books by Fox News personalities, you would have to purchase all of these – to start:

Bill O’Reilly
A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity
Culture Warrior
The O’Reilly Factor
Kids Are Americans Too
The O’Reilly Factor for Kids
Who’s Looking Out for You?
The No Spin Zone

Dick Morris
Rewriting History
Power Plays: Win or Lose
Because He Could
Off with Their Heads
Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race

Michele Malkin
Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild
In Defense of Internment

Mike Straka
Grrr! Celebrities Are Ruining Our Country

Sean Hannity
Deliver Us from Evil
Let Freedom Ring

Glenn Beck
The Christmas Sweater
An Inconvenient Book
The Real America

John Gibson
The War on Christmas
Hating America
In Defense of Religion

Laura Ingraham
Power to the People
Shut Up and Sing
The Hillary Trap

Major Garrett
The Enduring Revolution: The Inside Story of the Republican Ascendancy and Why It Will Continue
The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics

Ann Coulter
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans
How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)
High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Bernie Goldberg
A Slobbering Love Affair
Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right
110 People Who Are Screwing Up America

James Rosen
The Strong Man

Greta Van Susteren
My Turn at the Bully Pulpit

Updated to add:
Fox News Washington, D.C., deputy managing editor, Bill Sammon
At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election
Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism from Inside the White House
Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, Media Bias and the Bush Haters
Strategery: How George W. Bush Is Defeating Terrorists, Outwitting Democrats, and Confounding the Mainstream Media.
The Evangelical President: George Bush’s Struggle to Spread a Moral Democracy Throughout the World

This a wholly unprecedented marketing partnership between a so-called news organization and a right-wing political crusade. The books being plugged by the Fox spokesmodels are hardcore partisan tracts that all reflect the same regressive ideology. They have implemented a campaign that blankets their airwaves with pitches for published opinion pieces that are mostly dishonest, manipulative, and overtly hostile.

So where is the other side in this debate? Of course there are no anchors or hosts that lean even modestly left on the “fair and balanced” network. But even amongst their pseudo-liberal commentators like Kirsten Powers, Bob Beckel, or the recently departed Alan Colmes, you would be hard pressed to turn up a handful of literary works. Even so, I have never seen any of their limited line advertised on the air. Conversely, grousers like O’Reilly hawk their books on every broadcast. And you’ll find that appearances from the Coulters and Goldbergs increase coincident with the release of each new product. As for the other networks, there are a few authors scattered about, like Lou Dobbs, but the shelf space they would consume would be a mere fraction of the Fox Book Club.

The truly astonishing thing about all of this is that anyone would want to read (or watch) any of these pathetic characters to begin with. They represent a collection of the world’s most ill informed, logic deprived, truth averse losers in modern media. Bernie Goldberg, the fired CBS alum, is an unrepentant propagandist who writes books about media bias. Well, I guess he should know. Major Garrett, Fox’s White House correspondent, presciently penned a tome with the subtitle of “The Inside Story of the Republican Ascendancy and Why It Will Continue.” That was published just prior to the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006, followed up in 2008 with additional congressional gains and an historic White House victory. Good call, Major

But my favorite is the Clown Prince of Fox, Dick Morris. His 2006 book, “Condi vs. Hillary,” predicts the prospects for the commencing presidential election. Here is a sample of his astute analysis from the introduction to the book:

[T]here is no doubt that Hillary Clinton is on a virtually uncontested trajectory to win the Democratic nomination and, very likely, the 2008 presidential election. She has no serious opposition in her party […]

The stakes are high. In 2008, no ordinary white male Republican candidate will do. Forget Bill Frist, George Allen, and George Pataki. Hillary would easily beat any of them. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain? Either of them could probably win, but neither will ever be nominated by the Republican Party.

So Morris got the Democratic nominee wrong. He got the Republican nominee wrong. And the Republican who Morris said could win if he were nominated actually lost. It is on the strength of this sort of analysis that Morris gets asked back to provide additional insights.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter on Fox (or almost any of the TV news nets) if you’re wrong. The only thing that matters is that you faithfully regurgitate the conservative dogma and talking points. If you do, then you will have a job for life, and your books, web sites, and other media spew will become part of the marketing machine that props up conservatism. It’s an elegantly parasitic relationship. TV exposure begets propaganda which begets book deals which begets TV exposure which begets propaganda, ad infinitum.

And at the center of it all is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., a vertically integrated media empire that channels disinformation throughout it’s layers of television, radio, newspapers, magazine and book publishers, and the Internet. This complex web of entanglements insures multimedia distribution of the right wing’s political philosophy. Each props up the other to produce an architecture of lies in support of their lust for power and their Utopian dream for social Darwinism. Goebbels would have been proud.

Fox’s Major Garrett In Sex Romp With Senator Craig

In the fog of hard-fought political wars, the foot soldiers are exposed to stimulating sensations as the campaigns heat up and swirl with emotion. The ups and downs pound furiously as sweaty staffers strain to satisfy insatiable supporters and reporters.

One such reporter appears to have succumbed to the siren call of amour on the campaign trail. Sources have revealed that the fittingly macho-named Major Garrett is tied romantically with the disgraced “non-gay” senator from Idaho, Larry Craig. While there has been no confirmation at this time, the sourcing is “strong, very strong.” Garrett is the reporter who covered the Craig affair for Fox News. And while the photo at the left may not be considered conclusive evidence, it raises the temperature of the scandal significantly.

This revelation comes on the heels of the New Hampshire primary where Garrett reported with titillating excitement that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was floundering and that a staff shake-up was imminent.

“…some of the top advisers to former President Clinton are set to join to Hillary’s faltering campaign as early as tomorrow…Carville and Begala’s strategic advise will now carry greater weight than that of the original team that devised a strategy that has led to a defeat in the Iowa caucuses and a likely defeat in tonight’s New Hampshire primary.”

Garret was only one of many whose prescient observations presumed the fall of the house of Clinton. But he alone swept away the veil that barely hid the forms of Carville, Begala and their naked ambitions.

As it turns out, Carville vehemently denied that he was becoming entwined with the Clinton campaign:

“Fox was, is and will continue to be an asinine and ignorant network. I have not spoken to anyone in the Clinton campaign about this.”

And Begala uttered similar protestations:

“…whoever told you I am joining Hillary’s campaign fed you some bum info. It’s just not true […] I’m not coming in as a volunteer, or as an adviser, or as a strategist or anything else.”

Undeterred, Garrett continued to report the personnel changes and insisted that his sources were impeccable. He told Begala that he would “take it under advisement.” Just to be clear, he was telling Begala that what his sources were saying about Begala was better than what Begala was saying about himself. He then gave Begala this assurance:

“I am not trying to screw you […] I’m careful and don’t have a reputation for pulling stories out of my ass. I’m not now. The sourcing is strong, very strong, or I wouldn’t go with it.”

You can almost hear the strength oozing from Garrett’s baneful wale. Perhaps he is lamenting having promised not to screw Begala. But it is notable that he made no such promise to Sen. Craig.

In the end, it is not possible to provide skin-tight confirmation of Garrett’s dalliance with Craig. Though the evidence at this time is somewhat less than circumstantial, I have confidence in the faithfulness of my sources. But should this flare into a climax of reportorial passion, I vow to treat Garrett with uninhibited fairness. When I receive his call denying that there is any truth to the scandalous allegations herein, I will gladly take it under advisement.