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Ron Paul got a free pass from the media as long as he was a backbencher with a fringe following but when he surged in the Iowa polls, the press woke up and took a closer look at the history of the Texas Congressman.
And the Fourth Estate didn’t like what it found.
The explosive material that is fueling the negative coverage of Ron Paul, from his isolationist foreign policy to the racist newsletters published in his name, has been readily available to journalists. There was no need to assemble an investigative team to meet sources in parking garages; all that was required was a simple database search.
But in a stunning dereliction of duty, the vast majority of the press corps couldn’t be bothered.
Kurtz is right that the story has been there. Capitol Hill Blue covered it in depth in the 2008 Presidential campaingn. The Dallas Morning News exposed Paul’s racist and homophobic newsletters in 1996. So did the Austin American Statesman and the Texas Monthly.
So where was the rest of the media? Asleep at the wheel (to borrow the name of one of our favorite Texas swing bands).
We all know the media can’t walk, chew gum, and cover more than two presidential candidates at a time. All too often, journalists are like lemmings, marching in lockstep after whoever has gotten a bump in the polls. That’s why the news business has lurched from Trump to Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Newt to Paul (and perhaps now Santorum, who’s blipped up to third in Iowa in a CNN/Time survey).
But it’s not as though Paul had some hidden past that could be excavated only through dusty court records. He says stuff every day—eliminate aid to Israel, abolish the Fed, get rid of the income tax, bring American soldiers home from around the world—that would create a firestorm around any other candidate.
Of course, none of this matters to the Ron Paul faithful. They claim it’s all old news. That’s true but it became current news when the grandfather of all politicians got huffy with a CNN anchor and walked off the set because she had the gall to ask him to explain his involvement with the newsletters that padded his bank account by a million or so bucks a year.
From where we sit, Paul has not only evaded the issue for too many years, he has changed his story more often than a teenager caught breaking curfew. In other words, he lied.
Does this matter to the Ron Paul Greek chorus? Of course not. Their candidate is Saint Paul, the political messiah who can do no wrong. It doesn’t matter that many of his positions are so outrageous, so unworkable, so far-fetched that they would destroy the American economy, gut our defensive capabilities and push America back into the dark ages. Ron Paul, in their eyes, is infallible and cannot be questioned.
But can a man who — as he claims — knew nothing about the racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic content of two-decades of newsletters published in his name be trusted at the helm of a nation? Logic says no, but logic left the building long ago.
To be sure, Paul says he never read most of what was published in the Ron Paul Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, and other similarly named journals. But even if we take him at his word, the questions are obvious: Why didn’t you know? What does this say about your management skills? Why would you associate with people who would put out this filth?
That these questions are just now starting to be asked, on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, is an embarrassment for the media. And Paul’s testy responses make clear that he did not expect to have to explain these incendiary words that he now dismisses as old news.
Sorry Ronnie. Your supporters kept complaining that the media wasn’t paying attention to you.
Well, they’re paying attention now and everything old is new again.
Be careful what you wish for.