Byron Goodhair, Presidential poolboy, tries to get to the bottom of all of those nasty Abramoff emails and make it all go away. Come enjoy the spin.
First: How the hell did that happen?
THE ABRAMOFF E-MAILS [Byron York]
The Washington Post reports Jack Abramoff’s claim that he has met President Bush “almost a dozen times” in the last five years. The claim was contained in e-mails that Abramoff wrote to Kim Eisler, an editor for Washingtonian magazine who says he is sympathetic to Abramoff. But the e-mails were not published in Washingtonian; rather, they appeared on ThinkProgress, a website run by the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta.
The Post apparently asked Eisler why he gave the e-mails to ThinkProgress. “Eisler confirmed the contents of the e-mail and said he recently provided portions of it to the liberal Web log ThinkProgress because he thought he was dealing with a fellow reporter,” the Post reported. “The blog posted the contents of the Abramoff-Eisler communication.”
The unspoken suggestion is that Eisler would not have given out the e-mails if he knew he was dealing with a liberal advocacy website rather than a fellow reporter. It is not clear whether Eisler is saying that ThinkProgress staffers misrepresented themselves, or that he just didn’t know who they were. But if it is the latter, that would be surprising, given that Eisler is a long-time Washington journalist, and given that the Center for American Progress has taken a high-profile role in virtually every anti-Bush cause in recent years, including the Abramoff story, and given one last bit of information in the last sentence of the Post account:
“Eisler’s wife, Judy Sarasohn, covers lobbying issues for The Washington Post.”
Hmmm. Must look into the Eisler/Sarasohn connection. Could be another Wilson/Plame situation. In the meantime, cover…cover. It’s not that big of deal. That’s it! George Bush meets lots of people. He’s a people-person:
THE ABRAMOFF E-MAILS (CONT’D) [Byron York]
In addition to the complex issue of a pro-Abramoff magazine editor giving Abramoff’s e-mails to an anti-Bush advocacy website while his wife covers the lobbying beat for the Washington Post, the Eisler/Abramoff story is also an example of how claims can sometimes seem bigger than they are.
The lead of the Post story is “President Bush met lobbyist Jack Abramoff almost a dozen times over the past five years and invited him to Crawford, Tex., in the summer of 2003, according to an e-mail Abramoff wrote to a reporter last month.” But later in the story, the invitation to the ranch is described like this:
In mentioning the invitation to Texas in 2003, Abramoff was apparently referring to a private barbecue Bush hosted for his biggest fundraisers at the Broken Spoke Ranch, down the road from the president’s rustic compound near Crawford, on Aug. 9 of that year. About 350 Republicans who had raised at least $50,000 each for Bush were invited.
Abramoff was member of the exclusive group of top Bush fundraisers known as Pioneers, each of whom raised $100,000 or more for Bush. So it would not have been unusual for him to be invited to the barbecue…
Then the Pod sticks his head in the room and feeds Byron a new line of attack:
KIM EISLER, PRO-ABRAMOFF? [JPod]
Byron, I doubt that very much. I have received several extremely vituperative DailyKos-like e-mails from Kim Eisler of the “oh, yeah? where are the weapons of mass destruction” type in the past few months.
Then the Pod runs off before someone asks him again “oh, yeah? where are the weapons of mass destruction”. Back to Byron, who is now running his hands through his luxurious mane of hair and wondering if he needs a hot oil treatment, when he gets a clarifying email from Judd Legum from the Center for American Progress that bursts one of Byron’s balloons:
STILL MORE ON THE ABRAMOFF E-MAILS [Byron York]
The Center for American Progress writes to say that its staffers fully identified themselves in their communications with Kim Eisler over the Abramoff e-mails. From Judd Legum of CAP:
I can tell you definitely we did not misrepresent ourselves to Eisler. Our very first e-mail to him identified us as from the Center for American Progress, a non-profit. All of our e-mails to him were from our americanprogress.org e-mail accounts and contained links to the Progress Report and ThinkProgress.
Even though there was no talk of our communications being off the record, we took the additional precaution of asking him if we could publish what we learned from him on our blog. He said we could and that we could use his name.
In short, we were completely transparent in all of our communications with him.
Oh pooh!, says Byron. Must call Eisler, must call Eisler…please tell me that you didn’t fuck up. Tell me what the Pod said isn’t true! C’mon, c’mon. Pick up! Pick up, damn you!
STILL, STILL MORE ON THE ABRAMOFF E-MAILS [Byron York]
I just spoke to Kim Eisler about the Abramoff e-mails. He says when he was called by Amanda Terkel of the Center for American Progress, “she identified herself, she said she was doing some research, and she represented a think tank.” Eisler adds, “Actually, the truth of the matter is, in my head, I thought she was a reporter for The American Prospect….I thought she was a print reporter doing a story for a magazine that was going to appear down the road.”
Eisler says he discussed Abramoff with Terkel, and “I sent her what I considered background information to buttress the conversation.” Later, Eisler says, he went out, and when he returned he had an e-mail from Terkel asking whether the material he had sent her was from Abramoff’s e-mail and was in Abramoff’s words. But Eisler says the Center had already posted the material on its ThinkProgress website. “They didn’t wait for my answers,” Eisler says. “They just went ahead and put it out there.”
Eisler says he had no intention of making the Abramoff e-mails public. He says he got Abramoff’s comments when he, Eisler, was scheduled to appear on television and sent Abramoff an e-mail. “I said I didn’t want to go on TV and say that George Bush knew you without knowing the facts,” Eisler says he told Abramoff. Eisler says Abramoff then sent the e-mail confirming his meetings with the president.
So Kim Eisler thought that Amanda Terkel was a “print reporter” and then he provided her with evidence that admitted felon Abramoff said he was Bush buddy and had met with the President and everything…and Eisler thought whe wouldn’t use the info because…I dunno.
He thought she worked for Time magazine?
These are dark times, indeed.