Posted on | June 23, 2012 | 10 Comments
FROM AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION
The Brett Kimberlin story — necessarily involving the activities of Kimberlin’s associate Neal Rauhauser — keeps moving forward every day. This brings us now to a follow-up on two recent stories:
- June 21: Recording: Leader of Anti-Limbaugh Effort Brags About Obama Campaign Ties
- June 22: E-Mails Expose MSNBC Host’s Involvement in #StopRush Boycott
Neal Rauhauser turns up in those stories as a trusted associate of “Stop Rush” leader Matt Edelstein (aka “Shoq”), who assigned Rauhauser to investigate “Randy Hahn,” a Texan suspected of being an infiltrator of their anti-Limbaugh boycott group.
Those stories were based on interecepted e-mails and recorded phone conversations published by Brooks Bayne at The Trenches.
How do we know that the story was legit? The proof is in the statement issued this week to The Trenches by attorney Imani Gandy.
Gandy was eager to disavow having been closely involved with the “Stop Rush” leadership, and similarly eager to deny having anything to do with the recorded phone call. Why this eagerness? Because if Shoq was in Florida when he recorded that call, the recording would be illegal under Florida law and, as Gandy is a lawyer, it would be a clear-cut ethics violation for her to be complicit in such a crime.
Yet in the process of making those denials, Gandy ended up confirming the authenticity of both the recording and the e-mails published by The Trenches — and this is important why?
Because (a) it confirms that my reporting is accurate, (b) this has the collateral effect of confirming Rauhauser’s involvement with the “Stop Rush” boycotters, and (c) Shoq’s defenders cannot deflect blame by discrediting “Randy Hahn.” Nobody involved in the story trusts “Randy,” and discrediting him does nothing to detract from the legitimate news value of the story. It was the attempt to discover and expose this infiltrator in their midst which revealed key facts about the anti-Limbaugh conspiracy — including the roles played by Edelstein, Rauhauser and MSNBC host Krystal Ball — and the actual identity (or moral character) of “Randy Hahn” is irrelevant to those facts.
This illustrates something basic about journalism that readers need to keep in mind: Facts are facts, and the story is the story, independent of who is telling the story or how the facts are obtained. I don’t have to like my sources — or even trust my sources — in order to obtain facts from them, and you don’t have to like me or agree with my politics in order to accept the credibility of my reporting.
If the stories I report turn out to be false, OK. But if the facts check out and the stories withstand close scrutiny, then whatever credibility is thereby obtained must be extended to the next story.
Only once during the course of this 37-day story have I chased any wild geese: On June 13, I linked and quoted an e-mail sent to Brooks Bayne claiming to identify the perpetrator of the “SWATting” calls. Patterico immediately disputed that claim, and maintains his own clear suspicion that Ron Brynaert was responsible.
Here’s the thing: I don’t claim to have any idea who SWATted Patterico or Mike Stack or Erick Erickson. I’m not a cop, a lawyer or a detective. All I can do is report what’s out there — including assertions by people who may or may not know what they’re talking about — and leave it to the cops and lawyers to do their jobs.
So it doesn’t matter whether I share anyone’s suspicions about the identity or motives of the SWATter. If Britney Spears sent me an e-mail and blamed it on Kevin Federline, I’d report the fact of the claim without pretending to know whether the claim was indeed factual.
That’s something that people need to be clear about, because there’s a lot more of this story left to report, and readers have to exercise judgment just the same as reporters have to exercise judgment.
– Robert Stacy McCain, Whereabouts Unknown