Milbank plays to type

February 14, 2014

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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No intelligence

September 21, 2012

Mitt Romney is now receiving regular intelligence briefings. This means that he is better informed that Barack Obama, who skips most of his intelligence briefings. Over the past year, the president attended just 38% of his briefings. He missed every briefing in the week leading up to the 9/11/2012 attack.

Always eager to be too clever by half, the White House is actually trying to spin this as a strength for Obama. They argue that he is so smart he doesn’t need briefings; he can get everything he needs from the briefing book. It’s only dullards like George W Bush that actually want to hear from the intel guys directly, ask questions, and have a conversation.

I’m not making this up: Dana Milbank actually says that Bush held intelligence briefings because he didn’t like to read:

This is how it was done in the Clinton administration, before Bush decided he would prefer to read less.

How it was done in the Clinton administration is not a record to emulate. CIA Director James Woolsey lamented his lack of access to President Clinton, and was never once able to obtain a one-on-one meeting. Woolsey said “It wasn’t that I had a bad relationship with the president. It just didn’t exist.” He also reportedly once joked “Remember the guy who in 1994 crashed his plane onto the White House lawn? That was me trying to get an appointment to see President Clinton.”

UPDATE: Since the story broke, Obama’s attendance has improved dramatically, with him attending the meeting five days in a row. The last time that happened was February.

But wait, I’m confused! I thought that Obama was too smart to need intelligence briefings. Did he get dumber? Explain it to me, Dana Milbank!

(Previous post.)


Always check original sources

July 22, 2010

Dana Milbank ought to learn to check original sources:

“I think there’s a good reason for a conservative to vote yes, and that’s provided in the Constitution itself,” Graham told his peers before reading to them from Federalist No. 6, by Alexander Hamilton. “The Senate should have a special and strong reason for the denial of confirmation,” he read, such as “to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from family connection, from personal attachment and from a view to popularity.”

Milbank is wrong: Graham was not reading from Federalist #6. First, a quick glance would reveal that #6 has nothing whatsoever to do with confirmation. In fact, Graham was referring to #76. More importantly, the passage that Graham “read” does not appear in #76 either; it is stitched together from bits and pieces with some additions and deletions.

Once Milbank’s appeal to the authority of Hamilton’s text is ripped away, one can debate whether Lindey’s paraphrase is faithful to the spirit. (The answer is no.)

It’s sad to see Milbank doing less fact-checking than Internet Scofflaw.


Making stuff up

October 18, 2008

Dana Milbank, one of the media’s most infamously biased reporters, tells a tale:

Arlington, Va.: The Secret Service has now labeled the “kill him” report as unfounded. Why isn’t The Post giving this report as much coverage as the original false report received?

Dana Milbank:

Glad you asked, because I saw this earlier. This is actually about the incident in Scranton, not the one in Clearwater, Fla, that I wrote about here.

I wasn’t at the Scranton event, but I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they’ve started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty — protecting the protectee — and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it’s unfounded because the reporters can’t get close enough to identify the person.

Notice what Milbank is claiming. He’s not just saying that the Secret Service is keeping the press from interviewing the crowd, he specifically accuses them of doing so in order to deny that the crowd is saying vulgar things. By implication, he is also saying their denial is a lie; why else would they need to conceal the truth? Furthermore, he is implicitly accusing them of dereliction of duty, since this sort of cover-up is probably incompatible with their duty to protect Obama.

The Secret Service says it’s not true:

But the Secret Service says Milbank has it wrong.

“It’s not a function of the Secret Service to prevent or limit reporters from interviewing the people at events,” said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. “We’ve never been asked by any campaign to do that.”

Donovan said that at rallies for all the candidates, the Secret Service sometimes separates the press corps that is credentialed to cover the event—known as the pool—from the general public. That is for logistical and security reasons, he said.

“Being in a press pool gives them special access,” said Donovan. “But the other side is that they have to stay together. You keep national press away from the local press for the same reason.”

Any journalist can get around these restrictions simply by attending the rally as a member of the public rather than a part of the press pool, he said.

Of course, Milbank is saying that the Secret Service is lying about the Scranton incident (even though he admits he wasn’t there), so he’ll probably say they’re lying about this as well. My inclination is to believe the Secret Service.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Milbank’s accusation doesn’t even make sense. Even if we suppose that the Secret Service is trying to protect McCain’s candidacy, why would they go to such lengths just to conceal that some yahoo was yelling crazy stuff?

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, the Clearwater incident that Milbank alludes to is in a vitriolic column he wrote attacking Sarah Palin. In it, he reports (if we believe him) another “kill him!” incident, but in that one, by his own account, the imprecatory exclamation was directed at unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, not at Barack Obama. I suspect that this will become a point of some confusion.

(Via Instapundit.)