The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Radtke, Red State and Riehl
UPDATE: Radtke Campaign’s Attorney Demands Retraction and Apology
UPDATE: Radtke Denounces ‘Scurrilous Behavior’ by GOP ‘Establishment’

Posted on | August 25, 2011 | 56 Comments

UPDATE 4:50 p.m. ET: Dan Riehl clarifies the timeline and emphasizes: “It’s between the Radtke Campaign and RedState, no matter how some are trying to muddy the water to distract.”

UPDATE 1:10 p.m. ET: Dan Riehl links to a legal letter sent by Patrick McSweeney, attorney for Virginia Senate candidate Jamie Radtke:

On behalf of Jamie Radtke, I am sending this letter demanding your immediate and prominent retraction of your August 24, 2011, posting on RedState and your August 25, 2011 Morning Briefing in which you repeat statements of certain unnamed persons who attended the August 13th dinner at the RedState Gathering in Charleston, South Carolina at which Ms. Radtke spoke. One of the statements in your posting claimed that Ms. Radtke “gets drunk, and gets so embarrassing that I have to duck away….” Another statement that you repeated charged: “She was a drunk, rambling idiot that took 30 minutes to introduce a director who himself was confused.” Those statements are false. You plainly repeated the statements quoted above without regard to their accuracy.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE 1:15 p.m. ET: In case you didn’t notice, McSweeney’s letter is CC’d to Jeff Carneal and Tom Phillips, respectively the president and chairman of Red State’s parent company, Eagle Publishing.

UPDATE 1:20 p.m. ET: Will these statements by Erickson be acceptable to the Radtke campaign’s attorney?

UPDATE 2:10 p.m. ET: In an e-mail “campaign update” sent to Radtke’s supporters and conservative bloggers, her communications director Chuck Hansen writes that “the Establishment Republicans and their buddies in the Establishment Media going after Tea Party supporters who threaten their Good ‘Ol Boy power is an all-too-common phenomena.” More from Hansen’s e-mail:

George Allen’s cocktail party social set lived down to expectations this week, working through Erick Erickson to launch some very nasty attacks on Jamie. So much for Virginia gentlemen.
Of course, they had no problem accepting the Tea Party’s activism, energy and votes last year, which put them in power in the House . . .
Yesterday, on the front page of, Erick Erickson lashed out and wrote a blog smearing Jamie Radtke with completely false attacks by publishing libelous pejoratives in hopes of damaging her reputation.
Erickson wrote his column in response to a report on another blog that he had told Radtke, “My bosses are HUGE [George] Allen friends, not just fans. They are socially connected. So I’m having to tread carefully in this.”
Erickson, after confirming that he had made the statement, wrote a vicious blog that defamed Jamie’s character.
“Erick’s blog goes beyond the pale,” Radtke stated. “He crossed the line by publishing complete falsehoods. Now, it is his responsibility to admit he did wrong, set the record straight and apologize – and that is what I am asking Erick to do.
“This kind of scurrilous behavior and treatment has been repeatedly carried out on tea party leaders and conservative candidates who dare challenge the good ‘ole boy Washington Establishment. This attempt by the Washington Establishment to destroy the tea party and their candidates must stop. Enough is enough.
“What is most important is that we focus our attention on beating a President and his liberal Democrat friends who want to fundamentally change America. I encourage the tea party to stay determined and committed to fight back against the negative narrative on us and let’s defeat Obama and his liberal cohorts.”
Carter Wrenn, chief strategist for Radtke’s campaign, stated that a formal letter from legal counsel had been sent to Erickson demanding a retraction. “To put it as bluntly as possible,” Wrenn said, “Erick Erickson made an untrue and malicious attack on Jamie Radtke yesterday and repeated it again today. He should retract his statement, admit it is untrue and apologize for his mistake.”
Rocking the Boat in DC is hard, and doing so gets the entrenched interests very angry – that’s why it takes a special, determined leader to make it happen. Jamie is that kind of person, a new generation of courageous, conservative leader, who will stand up to Establishment Washington and their attacks and win!

You can see most of this at Radtke’s site. Meanwhile, Ben Smith and the Washington Post are popping the popcorn. Erick Erickson calls this a “distraction” — as any accusation of libel always is.

PREVIOUSLY (12:28 p.m. ET): The fallout continues from yesterday’s eruption of an online knife-fight between the campaign of Jamie Radtke, Virginia’s Tea Party candidate for Senate, and Red State’s Erick Erickson.

Erickson accused Dan Riehl of fomenting that fight, and Riehl isn’t denying it. The alleged motive involves another prominent conservative blogger, Michelle Malkin. Remember that Red State scored a publicity coup by hosting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential announcement. Malkin wrote a column exposing flaws in Perry’s record and, when Red State’s Streiff wrote a post impugning Malkin’s “integrity and intellect,” Dan Riehl demanded that Erickson retract the slur.

(I can’t recall Malkin ever getting directly involved in a blog war. Even after Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs threatened Malkin in April 2009, she refused to respond. But you may have noticed how rapidly LGF’s decline and fall ensued.)

Erickson refused to stifle Streiff and says that Riehl responded with threats of destruction. I’ve known Dan long enough to know that he doesn’t make idle threats, so if all of this is the fulfillment of Dan’s vow of vengeance, it is not an entirely unexpected development. But there are two points worth noting:

  1. Dan didn’t start it. Streiff attacked Malkin, and Dan chivalrously defended Malkin’s reputation. If Erickson had disavowed Streiff’s attack, the blog war would have ended there.
  2. Erickson’s counter-attack on Jamie Radtke was probably a blunder. He practically called Radtke a drunk. She’s a Christian home-schooling mother of three, widely admired by Tea Party activists in Virginia. Erickson’s attack on her is likely to rally her supporters, and to hurt Red State more than it hurts Radtke.

But we have to ask if this might turn into something more serious than a blog war. As I said yesterday, one of the reactions I got from non-combatants was, “Uh-oh — he’s going after Carter Wrenn.”

That’s Radtke’s campaign manager, a veteran Republican operative with a street-fighter’s reputation. You don’t call Wrenn’s candidate a drunk and then just walk away.

David Frum sees the controversy as evidence of the influence of “hidden power brokers,” and Dave Weigel at Slate and John Hudson at the Atlantic have also taken notice of this dispute, but I’m not sure any of them understand how Erickson’s attack on Radtke has upped the ante in this game. And I’m reasonably sure we haven’t seen the last card played.


56 Responses to “Radtke, Red State and Riehl
UPDATE: Radtke Campaign’s Attorney Demands Retraction and Apology
UPDATE: Radtke Denounces ‘Scurrilous Behavior’ by GOP ‘Establishment’”

  1. Mfm Droid4site Reg
    August 26th, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    I’m LDS – in our Church, a member may be asked to speak on a perhaps a double-dozen Gospel topics spontaneously at any meeting. This might occur if the member who had been asked to speak was for some reason unexpectedly absent.

    A General Authority (roughly equivalent to a Catholic Cardinal I think…) once was asked how he had managed to avoid seeming harried and disorganized when tapped out of the blue to give a talk with only a few minutes of prep. He replied that since the Gospel can be boiled down to a relatively small group of Universal Concepts, he considered it prudent to “pre-prepare” and always have several talks on cards in his briefcase to give on no notice.

    It seems to me the prudently prepared candidate might consider the same policy.

  2. After the Tea Party « Don Surber
    August 26th, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

    […] to a blogger’s level is stupid — especially a doughnut hole like Erick Erickson. Robert Stacy McCain, a Radtke fan, has the details. Apparently Erick Erickson did what he always does and made an ass of himself. Senators don’t […]

  3. alwaysfiredup
    August 26th, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

    Just because Erickson says it does not make it true.  His comment section is filled with cloying asskissers who gang up on anyone who expresses disagreement.  It’s a echo chamber and I’m done visiting it.  Hint to RedStaters: You all aren’t any more influential than any other political blog, your reputation stinks and your readership is declining.  Oh, and your fearless leader sold out to the DC and CNN political establishment.  You’re welcome.

  4. Anonymous
    August 26th, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

    On thing for sure, this contretemps is great click-fodder.

    “click, click, click, …it’s real easy, man” — Boomhauer

  5. The Radtke vs. Erickson Time-Line » GOP Primaries 2012
    August 30th, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    […] a couple notes because there seem to be many misinterpretations of what went on here. First, everyone knows I fight my own battles and fight them here, publicly. That’s how […]

  6. Radtke: Red State’s Erick Erickson Must ‘Set the Record Straight’ After Making ‘Reprehensible’ Accustions : The Other McCain
    September 1st, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

    […] for him to make it right.”PREVIOUSLY:Aug. 24: Virginia Feud: Radtke vs. Red State Aug. 25: Radtke, Red State and Riehl * * * * *Jamie Radtke Interview (Conducted Friday, Aug. 26)RSM: What happened? RADTKE: I think […]