Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Did the Associated Press shoot down Harry Reid?

Jerry Stratton, March 27, 2010

Harry Reid’s chances of re-election have been pretty slim for several months now. Just about any Republican challenger beats him in a one-on-one race. So when, about a month ago, an unknown third-party candidate appeared claiming to be a tea party candidate, the assumption was that he was a spoiler for Reid. The tea party movement is a pretty loose movement, but nobody had heard of Scott Ashjian. The most likely explanation is that Ashjian was a spoiler, an attempt by the Reid campaign to split the opposition and win with a plurality if they couldn’t win with a majority.

Ashjian’s Tea Party of Nevada is certainly not your typical right-wing group. Among the founders are anti-Bush activists, 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and a Democratic trial lawyer. The closest it gets to the right wing is a $200 donation to Mitt Romney by a Brittan Ashjian in 2008. Meanwhile, tea party activists since February have been saying he wasn’t one of them and was, regardless of the reason, just helping Reid.

Now it comes out that Ashjian’s being prosecuted for “felony theft and bad check charges”. And the Associated Press is still calling him a tea party candidate. You can argue about whether the first story was news or not. But if you’re a news organization, it’s incompetent or blatantly partisan to ignore the controversy while making the claim that this is a tea party candidate.

If Ashjian was chosen by Reid, it’s not surprising that he’s got some skeletons. Nor is it surprising to see the Associated Press take a story at face value to attack political opponents. In this case, though, their partisanship may have backfired. In their zeal to make the tea party look bad, they attacked Harry Reid’s political savior. There’s an element of schadenfreudal irony watching the Associated Press’s partisan hacking miss its target and shoot down their own party.

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