TPM Cafe: Serving Up More Than Just Anonymous Bloggers

Rachel Slajda at Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) confirmed in a press conference yesterday that a man identified as a suspect in an alleged arson at Carnahan’s campaign office is a former paid campaign worker.

The man, Chris Powers, was arrested but has not been charged in the arson case. In a phone interview this morning with TPMmuckraker, Powers denied having any involvement with what local reports have described as a “fire bombing.”

“I’m innocent,” Powers said. “I was at home when Congressman Carnahan’s office was fire bombed. I have nothing to do with it.”

In the early morning hours of Aug. 17, someone broke a back window in Carnahan’s St. Louis campaign office and set a small fire, which caused minor damage in the office. Police arrested a suspect some hours later. They released him the next day, but have not divulged the suspect’s name. Police say it is up to the prosecutor’s office whether to issue a warrant; without it they can’t hold a suspect or release his name.

Powers’ identity was first reported yesterday by the St. Louis blog Gateway Pundit. After the claim gathered steam online, Carnahan held a press conference and confirmed that Powers is a former campaign worker. Carnahan said Powers was paid as a canvassing worker for about a week, but was fired for “not doing his job.”

When TPM asked Powers if he was the person initially arrested by police, Powers referred us to his lawyer, who was not immediately available for comment.

As several blogs have reported, Powers wrote a reader blog at TPMCafe under the name Ripper McCord. (Any TPM reader can create a reader blog and comment on the site, and Powers is not affiliated with TPM.)

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

Far Left website TPM Muckraker took the offical walk of shame today and admitted that one of their unhinged bloggers was arrested for firebombing Congressman Russ Carnahan’s office. The suspected firebomber blogs at TPM under the name “Ripper McCord.” When Leftie Bloggers Attack…

Moe Lane at Redstate:

Today, Talking Points Memo finally released an article on the affair, in which it reported both that Powers denied any involvement in the original attack, as well as implicitly denying any relationship between TPM and Powers beyond the latter’s ability to post diaries at TPM:

As several blogs have reported, Powers wrote a reader blog at TPMCafe under the name Ripper McCord. (Any TPM reader can create a blog and comment on the site, and Powers is not affiliated with TPM.)

No explanation was offered as to why TPM declined to cover for almost a week the firebombing of a Democratic Congressman’s campaign office; a firebombing which featured at one point a TPM diarist as prime suspect.

No further arrests have been made in the case as of the time of this article.

Ed Morrissey:

This development makes for yet another don’t-jump-to-conclusions morality tale, but perhaps more people should take heed of it.  Certainly the crowd who rushed to blame Tea Party activists and Republicans for the attack have some apologies to make, just as they did when the Left assumed that conservatives murdered a man who was later determined to commit suicide.

On the other hand, though, being a suspect does not mean being guilty.  I’ve received a lot of e-mail from readers declaring that this demonstrates the violence inherent in the Left system, and so on.  So far, the police haven’t even charged Powers.  If they do, they’ll have to prove their case in court.  I’d remind people that the police thought they had their man in the Atlanta Olympics bombing when they accused the one guy who took action to save lives with planting the bomb in the first place — only to find out that the real bomber was serial terrorist Eric Rudolph.  Richard Jewell had to fight for years to get his reputation back before passing away in 2007.

The fact that the suspect list, at least the acknowledged suspect list, includes a disgruntled worker should be reason enough to scold those who leaped to conclusions in the first place, but let’s not do the same thing now.   There may well be other suspects in the case of whom we are unaware.  Until the police actually file charges and publish their evidence, maybe everyone should just hold their powder and see how the situation develops first.

James Joyner:

So . . . we have some guy who was hired at the very lowest level of a campaign, got fired for “not doing his job” and is “disgruntled.”    And he also was a glorified commenter at TPM.  Not exactly the stuff of scandal or “walks of shame” here.

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