The Other McCain

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

How Stupid I Was: 2011 Edition

Posted on | July 1, 2012 | 4 Comments

How easy is it to miss a big story? This easy: While I was packing up my desk to move to our new home — thanks, Brett! — I found some notes I’d taken of a phone interview I’d done with Andrew Breitbart in the wake of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s resignation. I’d meant to write an article for The American Spectator based on that interview, but the GOP primary campaign started heating up before I could complete the article, and so I just forgot about it.

The other day, I was packing my desk and came across the notes — as usual, scrawled on the back of an envelope — and saw the names “Mike Stack” and “Lee Stranahan” and I was like, “Holy sh*t!” 

A big chunk of the same story I’m now covering so intensively was right there in my notes, taken in late June 2011, and I hadn’t realized it. How had I lost track of that story, so that when I bumped into it almost accidentally on May 17 of this year, it caught me by surprise?

Well, something else was happening in late June 2011: Herman Cain’s campaign operation in Iowa was in disarray. Staffers were quitting or being fired, and so I put aside the Breitbart/WeinerGate article and spent the Fourth of July weekend on the phone with various sources, eventually writing an article entitled “Iowa Calling” (The American Spectator, July 6, 2011). And I never got back to that Breitbart feature, until Andrew died in March.

Like a lot of other political reporters, as soon as Anthony Weiner resigned in disgrace, my attitude was: End of story. Move on.

For a week or two after Weiner’s resignation, I noticed some people arguing over things like “Betty and Veronica” and “Who was Dan Wolfe?” But all that struck me as useless trivia. The scandalized politician resigns and the story is Officially Over, as far as the press corps is concerned. Even though I’m now in the blogosphere, when I’m actually reporting news, I still think like an Old School newspaper reporter, and arguing over obscure details of Last Week’s Sex Scandal is (pardon the pejorative) amateurish.

So that’s how I missed it, see?

Yeah, I was mystifed by the “Betty and Veronica” angle, and the Dan Wolfe angle was peculiar, but that was “Grassy Knoll” stuff, not something I could afford to waste time worrying about while there was a presidential campaign to cover. In all honesty, my feeling was, “Look at those amateurs, running off on a useless snipe hunt.”

Bah, humbug.

I didn’t know Mike Stack and Patterico got SWATted. I didn’t even know what SWATting was. It never occurred to me that the fallout from WeinerGate might be far more serious than the GOP primary campaign (which turned out to be kind of a useless snipe hunt, too).

Now, however, I look back with regret at my stupid failure to recognize the significance of elements of WeinerGate I dismissed as trivial. All of which is prelude to pointing out that Patterico stayed on the story with an intense focus long after I forgot all about it:

I was very interested in these two pieces of information, because I knew that Mike Stack had been SWATted on June 23, 2011. I knew that the caller from Mike Stack’s June 23, 2011 SWATting had been (incorrectly) described by the police as having a British accent. And I knew that some suspected that a woman in Boston named Jennifer George was behind some of the fakery that could be related to Mike Stack’s SWATting — and that she had accused Lee [Stranahan] of threatening her.

Read the rest. Damn, I was so stupid.


4 Responses to “How Stupid I Was: 2011 Edition”

  1. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    July 1st, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    I linked this too.

    Look at it this way, it was in your subconscious and helped you recognize the story when you saw it again in May of this year.  

  2. Dianna Deeley
    July 1st, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

    Back this time last year, when Patterico incited the monstrous thread, it’s true that sorting through the detritus to determine who was the master or mistress of the sock-puppets looked like a job for obsessive amateurs. What might have made pros take a second look is that Patterico is not an amateur.

    Disclaimer – I threw up my hands because I was bucking for my promotion while doing my boss’ job (so I could get my boss’ job), and trying not to fall apart because my boss was so damned sick. There was no time.

    For reporters, there never seems to be very much time before the next story breaks.

  3. Adjoran
    July 1st, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

    We were all fooled, we were all dismissive of these secretive cyber cells of subversives if we weren’t their direct targets, it just seemed so weird.  It was clear there were some serious nut cases in the comment threads at Patterico and many other places, but that really wasn’t anything new.  “Socrates” was a pretty well known troll around political blogs – and their antecedent message boards before that.  He was one of many and like most of them, he was a harmless nut. 

    99% of the crap Socrates obsessed about was just that, although every now and then he made a good point.  For most places, he wasn’t quite “off” enough to get banned.  Until he started looking at Kimberlin, at least – and because it was the lefty sites that banned him then, none of us noticed it.  Or suspected that he wasn’t banned for the content he posted but because of behind-the-scenes campaigns by Kimberlin and his cronies.

    Even Mandy Nagy’s research was received by most of us as fascinating but archival in nature.  It wasn’t until the Walker case that the shi’ite got real, so to speak, and the weird divergent threads of Kimberlin’s non-profit scams and lawfare and Rauhauser’s “beandog” posse and Weinergate insanity converged into one frightening chain of psychotic intimidation of the innocent.

    If Kimberlin had just let Walker go away quietly after helping Allen avoid a large judgement and a criminal charge, most of us still would have no idea what these guys have been and are up to.

  4. Bob Belvedere
    July 1st, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

    I well recall the Betty and Veronica aspect, and I actually did some research, but I was dismissive.  As Adj put it: ‘it just seemed so weird’ and like a petty, childish game.

    I was wrong.

    Mea culpa.