Dave Weigel at The Washington Independent:
UPDATE: This post was originally titled “Tea Partiers Working With Firedoglake on HCR Whip Count.” After I posted it, Kathryn Serkes e-mailed me to say that she didn’t mean to imply that Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher used the phrase “union thuggery. Serkes also disputed my description of her as a “Tea Partier,” but I really used that because this was a Tea Party rally, and she was an organizer of it. She also argued that there was a difference between working with Hamsher and working “with Firedoglake.” I agree, and none of the links below are meant to imply that other FDL bloggers have any connection to Tea Parties.]
I spoke to Kathryn A. Serkes of the Doctor Patient Medical Association at this morning’s rally against the health care bill, after Serkes had addressed the smallish crowd.
“I’m in contact with folks on the progressive side,” said Serkes. “They’re saying right now that Pelosi’s almost there with the votes. What they’re saying is that there’s some serious arm-twisting — their words were union thuggery. One progressive source told me that there was serious union thuggery this weekend, targeting Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.).”
Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake:
Dave Weigel isn’t a journalist, he’s a smear-monger that makes things up and projects his own fantasies onto his stories
I know Katherine, we were on MSNBC together and we’ve spoken about working on the pot legalization measure in California in the future. She tells me that when Weigel approached her and asked her who her “source” was, she didn’t say. He said “It’s Jane Hamsher, isn’t it…I’ve been around.” According to Katherine, she didn’t respond.
Weigel decided to print his own suspicions as fact, and didn’t bother to contact me for confirmation. It’s a pattern with him.
Weigel goes on to accuse me of using the words “union thuggery,” in quotes. He completely put words in my mouth. That is a totally fabricated quote.
I’m not “working” with the tea partiers on health care. But Weigel doesn’t care about the truth — any reporter would’ve contacted me first before printing something like that. He’s just a fantasist printing propaganda, and the Washington Independent has no higher standards than to print it.
I guess trading in political smears is something their donors approve of.
I’m more interested in Serkes’ response to my post in an email — she now says that she did not mean to attribute “union thuggery” to Hamsher, and because Hamsher denies saying that, I’ll update my original post. But I am disappointed that Hamsher would use such personal insults and fabricate quotes to make me look like a liar.
Here is the relevant part of my conversation with Serkes. I was recording the rally, so I have audio to back up this transcript.
SERKES: They’re saying that there’s some serious arm-twisting, and their words were union thuggery.
ME: Who’s the they?
SERKES: The progressive side. A progressive source told me that there was serious union thuggery going on this weekend.
ME: Is this the Firedoglake folks?
SERKES: It’s Jane. You’re figured it out.
ME: I’m not new at this.
SERKES: She said they were after Altmire this weekend. Yeah, because Jane and I last talked Saturday.
As I said, Serkes no longer stands by her attribution of “union thuggery” to Hamsher, so I will correct that. I apologize to Jane Hamsher for not giving her more time to respond to my email. When Serkes spoke to me, it seemed clear that she was characterizing her conversation with Hamsher and recalled “union thuggery” enough to use it twice and, twice, attribute it that way. But that is not what she meant to say.
As for Hamsher’s insults of me and my publication — which she supports with fabricated quotes — I’d welcome an apology and a retraction.
By the way, by “I’m not new at this,” I meant I’ve been covering this stuff closely and know that Hamsher has made some high-profile team-ups with conservative activists such as Grover Norquist. And I’d argue that figuring this stuff out, and getting people to name sources, is absolutely the work of a journalist.
I know, I know, those hippies aren’t going to punch themselves. Well, the rats aren’t going to fuck themselves either. And I suspect that’s what the FDL “whip count” is all about.
I apologize if I seem angry and incoherent here. I used to run with an FDL crowd and what’s happening now makes me ashamed. It’s getting damn near how I feel about the Catholic Church.
Somehow, I am not surprised that somebody who would work with Grover Norquist to promote the idea that poor people getting loans caused the financial meltdown would work with Dick Armey’s AstroTurf TeaBaggers to try and kill HCR.
If the news about Kucinich turns out to be true, we can expect Red Queen Jane to be calling for his head by noon. (Update: As DougJ pointed out, the Red Queen is already calling for his head)
We need to pass HCR because it will make Jane and Grover cry.
Remember, they’re the real liberals, right?
Sir Charles at Cogitamus:
Most of the liberal community has figured out that passing health care reform, even in an imperfect form, is both a political and policy imperative. Not so Hamsher, whose crusade against the current bill has reached the point that she will happily climb into bed with even the most repellent right wingers if she thinks it will serve her monomaniacal quest. And apparently she will engage in union bashing as well (although Serkes now denies that Hamsher used the words “union thuggery”), which is really rich for someone who is more progressive than thou — maybe she could get together with Mickey Kaus.
A couple of months back I had dinner with Rick Perlstein and Dave Weigel. Rick had been impressed with Weigel’s reporting on the Tea Partiers and sought him out to get his sense of the movement — and I got to tag along. I came away impressed with Weigel’s obvious dedication to reporting this story and the degree to which he had quickly immersed himself in this political subculture. He also apparently has a pretty good sense for where Hamsher is coming from these days.