Putnam’s SpeakerAir Fiction Airbrushed by WaPo
The Washington Post ran a puff piece about Florida Congressman Adam Putnam, new head of the Republican Conference Committee, written by Congressional Reporter Lyndsey Layton:
The Florida Republican's new job is to jump on anything that makes Democrats look bad and exploit it for maximum effect. As chairman of the Republican Conference Committee, Putnam is the face and voice of House Republicans. His agenda: to aggressively display the flaws of the new majority, to convey the ideas of the Republicans, and to work his hardest to help his party win back the House in 2008.
Putnam's most famous "jump & exploit" was sounding the alarm when the new Speaker requested a giant airplane that included waterbeds, an open bar, three IMAX screens, and room for the entire San Francisco Pride Parade to march up and down the aisle bare-assed in leather chaps and feather boas. Except, of course, that SpeakerAir was, well — kinda made up. Adam Putnam later admitted to the Tampa Tribune that the truth did not matter:
It turns out there's no evidence Pelosi requested any such thing. A day after Snow's remarks, the nonpartisan House sergeant-at-arms released a written statement explaining that for security reasons he asked for a plane that could carry Pelosi nonstop to her home in San Francisco, a much longer distance than former Speaker Dennis Hastert, of Illinois, had to cover. Putnam now acknowledges he had no personal knowledge of any Pelosi request. He said he was commenting on an anonymously-sourced story in The Washington Times and additional coverage from CNN. "This was a classic case where the media got out in front of us," Putnam said. "Did we jump on it? Yes." And he is unapologetic about that. He calls the Pelosi plane story, whatever its legitimacy, "the first break [Republicans] have had from the media in driving our message since before the Mark Foley story broke."
Would the WaPo include Putnam's fictional "jump & exploit" in their profile? From Lyndsey's online chat:
Dunn Loring, Va.: Lyndsey: In your glowing profile of Adam Putnam today (gift citrus basket on the way!) why didn't you mention his gaff last month of accusing Pelosi of requesting a jumbo jet to travel back and forth to her district when no such request was made, where he later admitted he got the information from an article in another D.C. daily? Not to mention that he accepted a $1,000 donation from Mark Foley last year after Foley's troubles were known? Please tell me an editor deleted this from your story.
Lyndsey Layton: Dunn Loring, how did you know? The Pelosi plane was the original lede on that story and it was sliced from the final version because the editor felt the reference was dated.
Dated? Try "unflattering." When your entire story is about Adam Putnam's new role as the GOP's top aggressor, omitting SpeakerAir makes no sense. If readers are to evaluate future "jump & exploit" moves from Congressman Putnam, shouldn't we be reminded that his most famous move crashed and burned?