We’ve had ongoing controversy (1, 2, 3) on this site over whether the quotes provided by Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue are accurate or not. For those of you who
live in a cave rely on the mainstream media as your primary source of the news, Thompson is the one who broke the story about these alleged Bush statements:
GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.
“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
Stephen VanDyke, currently my key partner in journalistic crime, may wake up more abruptly than normal tomorrow after reading this article. After all, he initially described Capitol Hill Blue as “the political rag that doubles as a tin foil hat.”
At HoT, we try to qualify our rants as opinion and verify our facts when reported as news. We’ve made our mistakes (few and far between) and apologize (loudly) when we do. However, I’ve been doing this political reporting gig in print and electronic media as well as on political campaigns and websites for years. As a result, I get a lot of calls, e-mails, tidbits, rumors, and unsubstantiated facts on almost a daily basis. To be sure, my cell phone record just from tonight contains two juicy stories that I will not publish — yet. Somedays I can report them, as this small rumor (the one with the Kiefer Sutherland pic) from a very recent example provides. I’ve received my share of rumors of prominent conservative Christian politicans who have bedded people out of wedlock or done illegal drugs, liberals who cheat on their taxes, and so on. I won’t run these stories without a high enough level of substantiation — but when I do feel that I have enough reasonable sources for the information, I’ll publish them.
Thompson stated that he had three sources for his information. Depending upon the identity of the sources, that would probably be enough for me (or even VanDyke) to publish. It would not be enough to stop reasonable criticism of the story, however.
If I had to defend such a story without revealing my source(s), I might write a piece which would show that I was likely to have received the information from sources who are placed in a position to confirm its accuracy. Thompson just did.
In his latest article, Thompson provides a reasonable spectrum of groups of people close to the president who might just be privy to the quotes provided while providing a bit of cover to the people who presumably leaked the information. More importantly, he provides the necessary motivation for these hypothetical people to come forward.
Were I a juror in a court of law, I could not conclusively state that what Thompson reported is accurate. I could not disprove it, either. Bush has clearly acted in a manner to suggest that the words uttered might be true, Thompson is in a position to have received the aforementioned leaks, and there has been no credible evidence offered suggesting that Thompson lied. As a result, the preponderance of the evidence seems to lean toward Thompson — at this moment. If this changes, you can be certain to see a new story at Hot or another of the ubiquitous UPDATE tags with which our regular readers are all too familiar.
Credit: One of our unnamed sources knows where the props belong for bringing this bit of news to us. :)