Friday, June 04, 2004

DRUDGE AND CLARK REVISITED. For anyone who still cares, Alexandra Polier's account of her non-sex non-affair with John Kerry in the current New York magazine contains pretty convincing evidence that Wesley Clark really did play a key role in passing the rumor along to the media, or at least in further inflaming their loins.

You may recall that Drudge fingered Clark at the time, writing that the then-Democratic presidential candidate had told reporters that Kerry was about to "implode" over an intern scandal. Clark supporters and some other Democrats were upset that pundits - including Media Log - were accepting Drudge's word rather than investigating the Republican dirty-tricks machine.

Well, check this out from Polier's piece:

Drudge claimed Clark himself had told reporters on his campaign bus that Kerry was going to "implode" over a scandal, but when I called Wesley Clark Jr., a screenwriter in L.A., who had helped out on his father's campaign, he told me Drudge had ignored the context of his father's quote. "He was reacting to the latest issue of The National Enquirer, which had just run a front-page story about Kerry and possible scandals, when he said that."

But? What do you mean "but"? This is confirmation, not contradiction. It also comports perfectly with what Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant told me at the time in describing the background of a column he'd written on Clark's role in spreading the rumor:

In addition to summarizing the background to Clark's behavior, I also wrote that his comments directed attention [to] (some said specifically mentioned) the piece in The National Enquirer before it was published. The piece was transparently a clip job, but the effect was to increase the level of chatter by a lot. Drudge took it down to the next level, which I described as a frenzy about a story that hadn't been written concerning an allegation that hadn't been made.

Chris Lehane, who'd earlier worked for Kerry and who ended up on Clark's campaign, also figures prominently - and negatively - in Polier's piece.

DEBASING THE BASE. In an interesting juxtaposition showing that both George W. Bush and John Kerry are trying to appeal to the middle, the New York Times today reports that some conservative activists - mostly smaller-government types - are disgusted with Bush, while the Boston Globe details liberal discontent with Kerry.

Make of it what you will. Bush sure as hell is no centrist, but he's certainly not a conservative in any commonly accepted sense of the word, either. Radical right-winger is more like it. Kerry is sort of a moderate liberal. I guess.


Anonymous said...

Ryan Lizza of TNR was actually in the group of reporters that Clarke spoke to and _categorically_ rejected the claim that Clarke said that Kerry had an 'intern problem.' Read her archives.

Dan Kennedy said...

What Ryan Lizza wrote at the time was kind of weird. He said: "I was there when Clark spoke, and just to make sure I didn't miss anything, I've also checked with other reporters who were there. Since it was off the record (sort of), I can't get into what Clark actually said (let's just say it was not his finest moment on the campaign trail), but I can report that the quote Drudge attributes to him - 'Kerry will implode over an intern issue' - is not accurate. He never said that."

What does "let's just say it was not his finest moment" mean? Lizza doesn't say. In any case, I would argue that Lizza now must certainly yield to Wesley Clark Jr., wouldn't you?