Milbank plays to type

milbank 001Dana Milbank, the notoriously biased Washington Post reporter, levels an accusation so flimsy it was debunked by MSNBC:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been caught using purloined passages in several of his speeches. Now the aspiring presidential candidate stands accused of filing a lawsuit stolen from its author.

Since December, the libertarian lawmaker, a tea party favorite, had been working with former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein to draft a class-action suit seeking to have the National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone data declared unconstitutional. . . But when Paul filed his suit at the U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday morning, Fein’s name had been replaced with that of Ken Cuccinelli. . .

Fein, who has not been paid in full for his legal work by Paul’s political action committee, was furious that he had been omitted from the filing he wrote.

Milbank backed up his claim by quoting Fein’s ex-wife. Amazingly, he never verified it with Fein himself. MSNBC did, and found it was bogus:

Did Rand Paul lift legal work from a celebrated conservative lawyer without fully paying him? The attorney in question says he didn’t. . .

A spokesperson for RANDPAC forwarded an email from Fein denying Mattie Fein’s allegations. “Mattie Lolavar was not speaking for me,” Fein said in the email. “Her quotes were her own and did not represent my views.  I was working on a legal team, and have been paid for my work.” Bruce Fein confirmed to msnbc that the email was from him.

Seems convincingly debunked to me, but Milbank isn’t ready to give up. In a column entitled “E-mails back claim that Sen. Rand Paul ‘stole’ NSA lawsuit”, he dumped a bunch of internal emails (presumably leaked by the ex-wife) that indicate he was disgruntled about being left out of some key decisions. But they also make clear that Fein was indeed hired and paid for his work.

In Milbank’s original column, he claimed that Fein wasn’t paid at all. (ASIDE: I haven’t been able to verify this myself, since the Washington Post won’t let Archive.org crawl their site, but Milbank says so (“An early version of my Wednesday column said that Fein had not been paid and that Paul’s aides had not responded to inquiries.”), and I assume he wouldn’t lie about his own work in a way that makes him look worse.)

Now Milbank has edited his column to say that Fein “has not been paid in full,” as you see it in the quote at the top. That is technically true but deliberately misleading. What Milbank doesn’t say, but you can see in the emails he publishes, is that the outstanding payment isn’t even due until today:

My outstanding invoice for work indispensable to the lawsuit should be paid no later than Friday, February 14, an expectation which is completely justified in light of all the circumstances.

Truly shoddy work, and typical of Milbank. I’ll bet the Post is glad they have him off the news page and onto opinion.

(Via Instapundit.)

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