I've only been covering the Republican hatchet man since February and already there on three occasions, major publications have done (apparently) for free what PR crisis specialists would charge tens or even hundreds of thousands to accomplish.
In May, when McHenry staffer and housemate Michael Aaron Lay was indicted for voter fraud (by the Republican District Attorney who had donated to McHenry's campaign), the Charlotte Observer's DC McClatchy correspondent wrote a long complimentary piece quoting numerous McHenry allies spewing his trumped-up defense that the felony indictment was a political attack. She listed not one fact to back this McHenry revision of reality. She did not quote one detractor from the district (Republican or Democrat) or even try to contact the DA McHenry's donors slandered.
This summer, when McHenry was massacred on the House floor for two weeks of his typical obstructionist hypocrisy (this time on earmarks), the Washington Post took up his defense. The Sleuth wrote an extremely nauseating puff piece about his youth and dating preferences concurrent with a completely inaccurate attack on all Democrats by Bob Novak who somehow managed to elevate McHenry's hypocrisy to saintly martyrdom.
This fall, when McHenry was under fire for his endless financial improprieties by the subscription-only Roll Call, The Hill wrote about the youth and inexperience of his new staff members with no mention of why his experienced and over 25 staffers might be leaving en masse. Or why the guy many refer to as McHorny prefers them so young.
Lisa Zagaroli's long love epistle in the Charlotte Observer covered everything from her professional opinion of his manners to a series of defensive attacks from his local and DC allies. According to the only district sources Lisa bothered to talk to, the entire indictment was a political attack. She didn't mention that the prosecutor had donated to his campaign and no affiliation to his primary opponent.
Zagaroli quotes no McHenry detractors (Republican or Democratic) from North Carolina. Not one. In the entire piece the only negative quote comes from Barney Frank, someone who would obviously not get much respect in the working class conservative district McHenry represents.
Check out these beauts, the first in her own assessment:
Dependably polite -- he opens doors, greets the U.S. Capitol police officers, hugs his waitress . . .Apparently, she hadn't seen all the nasty clips on YouTube from the House floor where he interrupts fellow Congressman, calls Democrats cheaters. I guess from DC she can't get free to bop down to North Carolina and watch him interrupt and savage constituents when they ask questions he doesn't want to answer. I wonder if she used talking points from McHenry's communications director when to come up with the word "dependable" to modify the lie, "polite."
And this is what she chose to write the twerp say about himself. I think criminals should memorize this for use the next time they're investigated by the police:
"I had to grab for my food against my older brothers and sisters," the Cherryville Republican says laughing. "It's a natural part of my personality and upbringing. Get in there and fight for what you believe in."And this is from neighboring Republican Congressman Robin Hayes:
Big Mac. He's got lots of spunk. He raises issues that need to be raised. He will defend his position enthusiastically, but with proper decorum and dignity.The only question that remains is whether she's paid separately for this crap or is it part of her job description.
Of course, we could ask the same question of the Mary Ann Akers (the Sleuth) at WaPo. Her even more egregious ET-like interview came right when McHenry had finally gotten a long-overdue comeuppance by the entire House of Representatives.
After a two-week extended classic House floor performance piece, even Republicans had had enough of his ranting and obstructionism. The subject: transparency in earmarks. The hypocrisy for Democrats: McHenry's two-week rant neglected to mention that the earmark scandal had reached epoch proportions under the last 6 years or Republican hegemony. The hypocrisy even Republicans couldn't ignore: McHenry was hiding his own $129,000 grant to a Christmas Tree store in Spruce Pine, NC. So it was one of the few earmarks ever voted down, 249 to 174.
But the Sleuth didn't bother to mention it. Here's what she did mention:
. . . [McHenry] has also gotten buckets of praise and support from his elder fellow conservatives."Buckets of praise?" Is that some kind of professional measurement that non-reporters never learn about?
When he's not throwing bombs on the House floor, McHenry, 31, is anything but snarly. In a chat with the Sleuth in his office, the self-deprecating and mischievous McHenry talked to us about his role as floor warrior and baby of the House and his thankfulness for prematurely graying hair. And he reluctantly answered a question about what he's looking for in the wife he hasn't found yet.
And check out the wife question. Again, one sees the imprint of a communications director controlling the course of an interview. It seems unlikely that she came up with that line of questioning all on her own. In fact, it's completely absurd. Not only did Akers ignore the rampant rumors of his sexuality from well-known DC blogs like Wonkette and BlogActive and DownWithTyranny, she fed right into McHenry's phony cover.
And her article was part of a one-two punch that day. Columnist and traitor Bob Novak called McHenry a martyr elsewhere in the Post that day over the loss of that local earmark, one would suppose, in the cause of some phony perverted version of conservativism.
This is how the Center for American Progress characterized the Republican earmark PR effort:
The great conservative spin machine that stretches from the White House Press Room across the various right-wing think tanks to Fox News and dozens of conservative columnists and talk show hosts has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments over the years. But none of the efforts by this vast echo chamber is more impressive than the recent attempt to reshape the Bush White House and their allies in Congress as opponents of the practice of placing earmarks in federal spending legislation.So, printing Novak's commentary in addition to the Sleuth's basically confirms WaPo as a PR machine for that entire Republican two-week lie:
A conservative firebrand, McHenry had immobilized the House and humiliated the Democrats by leading GOP parliamentary maneuvers to force transparency regarding earmarks, previously hidden by both parties.The Sleuth not only failed to mention that concurrent earmark humiliation, she drooled over him with conversations like this:
Sleuth: Do you have time for dating? What's it like being a 31-year-old single guy in the House?Was Akers aware of the controversy and her part in the PR coverup? If she wasn't, she should have been. Fire her for incompetence or reveal her supplemental income source.
McHenry: [Laughter] I try to make time for that. It's just difficult with the schedule and everything else. I'm, uh, just trying to, I'm still trying to find the right girl. And I think in all due time it'll work out.
Sleuth: And is there a certain set of criteria you're looking for?
Sleuth: What is it?
McHenry: A number of things. [Laughter]
Sleuth: Just give me a little example. Does she have to like NASCAR? I hear you're a big NASCAR fan.
McHenry: Well, look, half the NASCAR teams are in my district. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a constituent. Dale Jarrett. So I don't know, you don't really have a litmus test on that. I think when you meet the right girl, you know. At least that's what all my friends tell me.
The most recent case of puff piece coverage when scandal erupts came after Roll Call gave McHenry a well-deserved slapdown for his numerous financial irregularities.
When I saw that The Hill had done an article, I figured they were doing some kind of follow-up, right? Hah. No, The Hill posted an embarrassingly naive piece over how he's recently hired a whole new staff of young people who have little experience.
No mention why his previous staff might have left his scandal-ridden incumbency. They apparently didn't notice that as a southerner it's kind of odd to hire people from Massachusetts and Arizona. I bet the unemployed from his district would find that interesting. But then to talk about how hard it is for him to find staff, they would have to mention that no one with any experience or intelligence would want his name on their resume. So, of course he had to go to the far corners of the country to find some naive evangelicals who will most likely abandon him after the first sex party.
In the wake of last month’s office shake-up, four young aides assumed new positions on Rep. Patrick McHenry’s (R-N.C.) Capitol Hill team.And one can't help but notice that Pat prefers them under 25. I'm sure no one in the traditional or "mainstream" media wants to touch that with a ten-foot pole . . . or even a keyboard.