In Defense of Doug Thompson on the GD Quotes

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. :)

12 Comments
  1. I’m not putting much weight on the accuracy of things coming from CHB, which is why I obviously couched with criticism.

    Hell, read some of the other stuff by Thompson, it could more accurately be described as White House corruption fan fiction rather than any kind of serious journalism.

    IMO, Thompson got lucky in writing something barely decipherable as fake and it bamboozled a lot of people. You could probably do the same with more of the well-written Onion articles on the White House.

  2. I’m not saying it isn’t fiction — merely that this story has been made as credible as it can get without actually revealing the sources. Bernstein did worse with Deep Throat — but didn’t have a bad rep going into it.

  3. Even if not true it is a Dan Rather moment. “Fake but accurate” comes to mind. Bush’s actions say that he does believe it, even if he did not say it.

  4. When I ran across this, I called for anyone who might be able to verify the story to contact me. Since then, the page has been visited by people in the House and Senate, as well as in the White House, but no one has yet come forward — even anonymously — to confirm it.

    This doesn’t mean it’s not true. After all, Bush does seem to have a rather low opinion of the Constitution.

  5. I know one tool which might work. If one or more of the sources would contact a different reporter they trust, then that reporter could also verify the rumor.

  6. This is unrelated, but does nayone know how to get rid of what appears to be a new version of SpySheriff I picked up today? The information provided on the sites listed on the first two pages of a google search on this aren’t clearing the problem.

  7. Um.

    “”Oh, how I hate the phrase we have—a ‘living document,’” Scalia says. “We now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete’s sake.”

    That’s not Scalia. I’ve read him quite a bit and he doesn’t articulate it like that.

    It was satire and I’d bet the family jewels it’s now a lie.

  8. A Google search of “scalia” and “living document” turns up numerous references to similar quotes by the Supreme Court Justice, including many news outlet citations. There’s even a story on Truthout that features almost the exact same quote.

    In addition, Tuesday’s Capitol Hill Blue features a lead story by Thompson that quotes a number of sources by name on domestic spying by government agencies. I’ve been reading CHB for a long time and the vast majority of their stories are sourced. I find it odd that this is overlooked by those who are quick to indict the web site and its publisher.

  9. Stephen,

    If it is giving you too much trouble go into run, type msconfig and then go to startup tab and then tell it to disable, if you can find it on the list.

    Also try using spybot search and destroy, it works great along with Ad-aware.

    Also, are you having problems with ad-aware, when I delete files it only lets me delete about ten at a time, anymore and it freezes. I manage security for computers and have had this problem on about thirty of them.