“Facts” disappearing without a trace from LAT bombshell on Fred’s abortion lobbying; Update: Sununu rips ABC reporter over Fred lobbying story

posted at 5:11 pm on July 9, 2007 by Allahpundit

Jim Geraghty posted this more than two hours ago. How on earth is it not already all over the right-wing blogosphere?

As luck would have it, I myself blockquoted that story at length and can confirm that Jim’s right. The original paragraph:

At one of the meals, she recalled, Thompson re-enacted a cowboy death scene from one of his movies. She also remembered him telling her that Sununu had just given him tickets for a VIP tour of the White House for one of Thompson’s sons and his wife.

And how it reads now, at the same URL that I linked to Friday night when the story first broke:

Thompson kept her updated on his progress in telephone conversations and over meals at Washington restaurants, including dinner at Galileo and lunch at the Monocle, she said. At one of the meals, she recalled, Thompson told her that Sununu had just given him tickets for a VIP tour of the White House for a Thompson son and his wife.

The detail about the cowboy scene is up in smoke, perhaps with good reason: as Geraghty notes, Fred doesn’t seem to have acted in any westerns before 1991. There’s no explanation for its disappearance on the LAT page and nothing on the paper’s Corrections page. And that’s not the only change. Here’s how the opening paragraph originally read:

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred D. Thompson, who is campaigning for president as a “pro-life” Republican, accepted a lobbying assignment from a family-planning group to persuade the first Bush White House to ease a controversial abortion restriction, according to a 1991 document and five people familiar with the matter.

And now:

Fred D. Thompson, who is campaigning for president as an antiabortion Republican, accepted an assignment from a family-planning group to lobby the first Bush White House to ease a controversial abortion restriction, according to a 1991 document and several people familiar with the matter.

I’m not sure what accounts for the pro-life/antiabortion change (an LAT style quirk, maybe) but here’s a possible explanation for the switch from “five people” to several. The five sources quoted in the piece in support of the claim that Fred “accepted a lobbying assignment” for the group are Judith DeSarno, Michael Barnes, and then the following three. I’m assuming nothing’s changed from the original version but at this point who can tell?

In addition to Barnes and DeSarno, three other people said they recalled Thompson lobbying against the rule on behalf of the family planning association.

Susan Cohen, a member of the association’s board of directors in 1991, said in reference to DeSarno and Thompson: “We were looking, of course, for a Republican who might have some inroads to the White House at that time, and so that’s how she came upon contacting him.”

Said Bill Hamilton, who then directed the Washington office of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a group that was DeSarno’s main ally in lobbying on the abortion counseling rule: “I definitely recall her reaching out to [Thompson] and engaging him in some way, and trying to squeeze the White House through him.”

Sarah L. Szanton, who worked for DeSarno as director of government relations for the family planning association, agreed that Thompson “consulted on our behalf against the gag rule.”

None of the three are as explicit as DeSarno and Barnes that Fred was retained for lobbying and did in fact lobby the White House (although the first sentence of the blockquote asserts that they did). Maybe the LAT was uncomfortable asserting in the lede that all five were unambiguously claiming that Fred had “accepted a lobbying assignment” and so it was changed to a weaselly “several” to make the actual number more ambiguous.

But in that case, why reiterate per the blockquote that “three other people said they recalled Thompson lobbying against the rule”?

The changes in the first paragraph are obviously much less important than the one about the cowboy movie, which speaks to DeSarno’s credibility. I don’t know what the story is here but for a major paper to be dropping facts and rewording passages without noting it, in a bombshell story no less, is suspicious — but not surprising. As we learned during Jamilgate, the AP pulls this crap as a matter of official policy (“For corrections on live, online stories, we overwrite the previous version. We send separate corrective stories online as warranted.”) and there’s at least one notorious instance of it happening within the very bowels of the bible of the journalism industry. Exit question: What gives?

Update: We may have an answer on the pro-life/antiabortion switch. And if so, it’s exactly what you’d expect.

Update: Sununu on the brink!

Asked if it was possible whether Thompson met with someone on his staff to lobby the first Bush White House to relax a controversial abortion restriction, the famously prickly Sununu flew off the handle.

“You know, with all due respect, may I comment on that? That’s the kind of dumb question that makes you wonder what’s wrong with the press. How do you get a job working for ABC asking a question like that? Did he meet with someone on my staff? Did he meet with someone in the street?” asked an incredulous Sununu.

Asked if he was suggesting that the abortion-rights group which claims to have used Thompson’s services had fabricated minutes from a Sept. 14, 1991 board meeting in order to undermine Thompson’s standing among conservatives, Sununu said, “I wouldn’t put anything past that group.”

Update: Patterico says the print edition of the paper didn’t contain the line about the cowboy movie, although the web version certainly did.

Update: Omri Ceren e-mails to say that the original version of the LAT story is still online — at the Baltimore Sun.


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csdeven on July 9, 2007 at 9:46 PM

My question is: Do you troll other sites looking for Fred! posts and do the same thing there, or are we the only lucky ones?

Kowboy on July 10, 2007 at 9:08 AM

It’s not like the simpleton is hard to recognize. He’s the ultimate “one trick pony.”

In answer to your question, this is the only conservative board I’ve seen him on. (Technically, what he’s doing wouldn’t be “trolling” anywhere else.)

logis on July 10, 2007 at 12:46 PM

OT and I’m sure there will be other threads on this, soon

As the other names on the list are revealed it will be interesting to see the different reactions from both parties regarding who gets held accountable.

Bradky on July 10, 2007 at 7:37 AM

If I’d be the libs and the media, I’d be very worried right now. Rest assured Brad that the right will eat its own and the left will claim “it’s a private matter” and eat the right too.

Entelechy on July 10, 2007 at 1:39 PM

http://www.blogsforfredthompson.com/node/253

And the Mitt$ camp weighs in…

Romeo13 on July 10, 2007 at 2:11 PM

Romeo13 on July 10, 2007 at 2:11 PM

Yeah, I read that earlier. That was a elbow to freds? rib from MITT!.

Time to buck up freddie boy. This is the big leagues!

csdeven on July 10, 2007 at 3:19 PM

Kowboy on July 10, 2007 at 9:08 AM

Do you troll other sites looking for Fred! posts and do the same thing there, or are we the only lucky ones?

cs is so emotionally invested in his Fred hatred that there is no way out for him. Fred must have stolen Jerri from him and run over his puppy on the same day. Probably while driving away with Jerri, and Jerri must have laughed because he has a pretty good hate on for her as well.

doriangrey on July 10, 2007 at 3:45 PM

I have seen nothing in this threads claim that he is Pro-Life or at the minimum a Federalist on the issue, which in my opinion is the correct position for a President, etc.

As noted he voted against the repeal of using military bases. The campaign reform measures have nothing to do with abortion. An X on a questionaire is not very substantive in my opinion. And it is his position now that matters, not what it was fifteen years ago. If he says he is pro-life or Federalist on the issue. Show me something in the last three years to indicate he is not, or move along.

That said the same with Romney, if Mitt states he is pro-life or Federalist on the issue now. I can accept that.

The Supreme Court usurped the authority of the Constitution in legaliizing abortion under Roe v Wade.

Naturally it should be outlawed at the States’ level as well, for the crime it is.

MarkB on July 10, 2007 at 4:30 PM

Yeah, I read that earlier. That was a elbow to freds? rib from MITT!.

Time to buck up freddie boy. This is the big leagues!

csdeven on July 10, 2007 at 3:19 PM

So, you think a Republican spreading what could very well be a false story about another Republican is OK?

You want to continue the dirty politics that the Dems have foisted off on American Politics?

Sad… very sad…

Romeo13 on July 10, 2007 at 4:51 PM

I cross posted this in the more recent Fred Thread, but it is worthy of repeating:

Also, the eye witness in the LAT article that was purportedly shot down by a non-existent Cowboy scene…. what about “Keep the Change” which was Released in 1992. It was a Western with William Peresen and Jack Palance wherein Fred played a character named Otis. I am not sure that Otis was killed in either the final version or in any shot version (I have not seen it). However, I do know that films are usually release about a year after they are shot, and if this was released in 1992, this Western was probably shot in 1991 and was presumably very fresh in Fred’s mind when he was lobbying for abortion rights.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104601/

It may only take two months to shoot a Western, but then you have to edit it, score it and find someone to distribute it. Fred’s Western, released in 1992 was apparently not very good. The producers failed to find a theatrical distributor and wound up releasing it on USA Network. I have no idea how long this film’s post-production took and how long they shopped it around before setteling on USA Network, but given my understanding of how a film is made (hint, before I was a lawyer, I was a film maker) the timing is pretty perfect how it fits with this story. While lobbying for abortion rights, Fred acts out a scene from the Western, THAT HE JUST FINISHED SHOOTING. That is a far more probable explaination of the evidence than any other that I have seen.

tommylotto on July 10, 2007 at 4:53 PM

cs is so emotionally invested in his Fred hatred that there is no way out for him. Fred must have stolen Jerri from him and run over his puppy on the same day. Probably while driving away with Jerri, and Jerri must have laughed because he has a pretty good hate on for her as well.

doriangrey on July 10, 2007 at 3:45 PM

That’s the impression I get too. It would be different if I could recall seeing him post on other threads here. It’s almost seems like he sits there hitting his refresh button until a Fred post pops up then he pounces.

Kowboy on July 10, 2007 at 5:02 PM

Romeo13 on July 10, 2007 at 4:51 PM

First, he wasn’t spreading a lie. He said it should be watched because if it is true it matters.

That’s politics, the rest of the candidates are in the frying pan, if freddie boy can’t stand the heat, maybe he shouldn’t stand just outside the kitchen door?

csdeven on July 10, 2007 at 5:17 PM

csdeven on July 10, 2007 at 5:17 PM

Sophistry.

You are condoning the spreading of a possible lie, somthing that isn’t prooven, beause its good POLITICS????

You’re stance on this subject alone shows where you are at… win at any price.

Folks like me are tired of dirty politics, and will not support those who stoop to it… like Mitt$ campaign just did IMO.

Romeo13 on July 10, 2007 at 5:22 PM

http://www.blogsforfredthompson.com/node/253

Yeah, I read that earlier. That was a elbow to freds? rib from MITT!

csdeven on July 10, 2007 at 3:19 PM

“Elbow to the rib?” Yeah, that’s really freaking funny, psycho.

Look, whether CS is acting out because somebody sent an email asking him to or not is irrelevant.

If the freak WANTS to be a troll; then he IS a troll. It’s not like you need some kind of license to qualify for that title.

logis on July 10, 2007 at 5:43 PM

BTW, apparently the anti-abortion “fanatics” haven’t yet figured out that this retarded hit piece makes them want to burn Fred! in effigy.

Tony Perkins, head of the influential Family Research Council tells The Brody File that the latest news about how Thompson may have lobbied for a pro-choice group is really a non-story.

http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/192165.aspx

logis on July 10, 2007 at 6:03 PM

logis on July 10, 2007 at 6:03 PM

“From what I’ve heard people are not biting on the story. They consider the source as well as the modus operandi, someone steps forward who is pro-life and is appealing to conservatives and he is attacked for being pro-abortion in an effort to drive a wedge between him and the base. The story looks suspect, but even if there is truth in it, his Senate record is solid on the life issue. I don’t think this is going anywhere.”

But that means nothing to some folks.

jdawg on July 10, 2007 at 6:58 PM

Well, it’s about time freddie boy got a couple slaps across his face. He’s been playing everyone as fools and now he got some comeuppance.

csdeven on July 10, 2007 at 11:13 PM

Fred acts out a scene from the Western, THAT HE JUST FINISHED SHOOTING. That is a far more probable explaination of the evidence than any other that I have seen.
tommylotto on July 10, 2007 at 4:53 PM

The more improbable part of your assumption is that a lawyer being “recruited/hired/whatever” would act out a scene from a western in a business luncheon.

It’s a nonissue. The whole thing stinks to high heaven of partisan politics at the lowest, muddiest level.

And they said yellow journalism was dead…

Tennman on July 11, 2007 at 8:48 AM

Tennman on July 11, 2007 at 8:48 AM

Why? fred? leased himself a red pickup, donned blue jeans, a flannel shirt, and changed his name to “Old fred?” to get elected. Why wouldn’t he do something as classless as act out a scene from a movie in a business meeting?

Besides, I’ve had groupies tell me that fred? didn’t fill out the form from vote smart, but that his staff did. I point out that he signed it. Then they say he just signed it because he was told to by staff. I point out that as an attorney, fred? is pretty lame if he signs ANYTHING without reading it first.

So, here we are again, nuancing freds? positions to fit the perception people want him to be, instead of what he is.

csdeven on July 11, 2007 at 9:52 AM

Why wouldn’t he do something as classless as act out a scene from a movie in a business meeting?
csdeven on July 11, 2007 at 9:52 AM

Only in your world view, my friend. I try to weigh these things in a more likely than not attitude with regard to human nature, business dealings and proper etiquette at meetings.

So, to me, it’s a nonissue. A slam without merit.

As far as the checked box you keep harping on, Lord save us if we ever have to fill out an IRS form or questionnaire for a psychological leadership profile in any venue. I can look at those things ten times and answer them ten ways depending on the questions that surround them and what question I think I’m trying to answer.

So, no nuance. Just the fact. The BOX was checked. That’s a far cry from saying it. And it’s a far cry from proving some basic core tenet of faith or basic core tenet of long-held principle.

I just can’t make the leap of faith that you seem to by taking isolated and unrelated facts and jumping to a conclusoin that may be correct, but not true. Ever see the movie Absence of Malice where Paul Newman character says to Sally Field’s character that her facts are accurate but her conclusion is not true? That’s the conundrum that I believe you are operating under. Broaden your perspective and try to see the truth and not just the accuracy of unrelated snippets of fact. The truth is, he had a 100 percent pro life voting record. The truth is, he (or someone) checked a box that said there should be no restrictions placed on abortions in the first trimester. (again, pardon my paraphrase; I haven’t see the exact language.)

Walked the walk, talked the talk, but checked the wrong box. Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!
I

Tennman on July 11, 2007 at 9:02 PM

P.S.

Fred has a red pickup truck. It’s rusting and under cover in his mother’s yard a few miles from where I live. It was his dad’s. So just because you or someone said it was leased doesn’t make it so.

Tennman on July 11, 2007 at 9:05 PM

Tennman on July 11, 2007 at 9:02 PM

Try “libertarian republican fred? thompson” in a google search. (If you care to find out the truth about what fred? SAID). You can make all the BS excuses you want, fred? was pro-choice in 1994 and I have the link and have seen the actual form that proves it. I also have a direct quote from him saying the exact.same.thing.

The red pickup he leased from a relative to fake out the voters in Tennessee and then he bought it. (he and his ataff admitted this)

I still waiting for someone to check the senate vote record to see how many abortion votes “liar fred?” missed. The ones he actually voted on were not very earth shattering and I don’t think there were very many anyway.

fred? is a goner and it’s all over except for the groupies crying. I remember the deadheads who hid in their houses for two weeks after Garcia died. I expect the same result from the groupies the day “liar fred?” announces he will not be running for president.

I hope you fred?heads can get your money back.

csdeven on July 11, 2007 at 11:17 PM

csdeven on July 11, 2007 at 11:17 PM

He may have said it at another time. If so, I stand corrected. But it doesn’t matter to me, and I support him. So why should it matter to you that I do?

If you have read the same story you linked a while ago about he and his staff admitting the red pickup story that I did (gads, that was a long tuneup) what I read was hearsay, not a direct quote.

The truck exists. And I suppose you hate it that it was a variation on the Truman Whistlestop campaign that worked for old give ‘em hell Harry too. IOW, take your message directly to the people, whether you have to rent the train or not. Like Fred says, I’m sure it will all work out. It got the dems within 20 points of him last time too.

Tennman on July 11, 2007 at 11:52 PM

So why should it matter to you that I do?
Tennman on July 11, 2007 at 11:52 PM

Did I say something that suggested that? If so, I apologize. My issue is with freds? lying. I don’t really care what his politics are until he holds core conservative values like I do. He needs to stop lying. He needs to announce an exact date that he will announce.

ut, until then…

“liar fred?”, YOU STINK!

csdeven on July 12, 2007 at 12:01 AM

That again is a showing of fear, cowardice if you may, because he is too afraid to put it out there and take his chances. I know you supporters think this is clever and running a smart non-campaign, but I believe you are seeing his actions in whatever way fits your desire for him to be, instead of seeing him for what he is.

csdeven on July 10, 2007 at 9:07 AM

That potential analysis works both ways. He actually told interviewers he would do it this way if he did it at all, way back when it first came up. You don’t like his tactics, fine. You disagree with his tactics, fine. You claiming they aren’t tactics, they’re cowardice, that’s a narrow analysis, much narrower and subjective than those who admit that he told the world he’d operate asymmetrically, and is doing just that.

The bottom line is always the bottom line, and his bottom line right now is strong. Your displeasure with that becoming manifested through attributing to him every sort of evil known to humanity is, well, just sad. He’s doing this his way, not yours, and as far as I can see it’s not failing, so no, he doesn’t stink. If his tactics fail, they fail. That happens from time to time among humans, especially in a contest with many participants but only one victor.

In your own words, you are seeing his actions only in how it fits with your desires, not with reality.

Freelancer on July 12, 2007 at 3:18 PM

Freelancer on July 12, 2007 at 3:18 PM

fred? is a liar. He is also a fake. I believe he is a coward for many reasons, but the first one is his policy of abdication of the responsibility of the CinC, in respect to the Iraq war, to the troops. I extrapolate that to his so called tactic of not running. I do not believe it is because he is being smart. I think he is scared.

So, it really isn’t my desire, it’s my experience with people and politicians over the years, that leads me to my conclusions about fred?.

csdeven on July 12, 2007 at 5:48 PM

cs, we all know you hate Fred!

All other issues aside, are you telling us that you hate him so much you’d vote for Hitlery if he was the nominee?

jdawg on July 12, 2007 at 6:41 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3