Give Me the Quote, or Else

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 14 2012 10:51 PM

Give Me the Quote, or Else

Ben Smith's intercepted e-mail between Daily Caller reporter and DNC communications director Brian Woodhouse is a masterpiece of shit-stirring. Boyle, the point man on the DC's Fast and Furious series, sent in a routine question: Did Woodhouse's boss, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, want Eric Holder to stay in office? Woodhouse ignored the question. Boyle tried again:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

I'm giving you until 10 am tomorrow to answer this question, then I'm reporting Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not supporting Holder.

Woodhouse clicked the "fwd" button. Blammo: Instant mockery of a publication liberals can't stand. But Boyle wasn't doing anything new. He has been asking members of Congress whether they want Holder out, and recently, he's started asking Democrats. When retiring Rep. Dan Boren no-commented on Holder, Boyle filed a story titled "'No comment’: Democrat refuses to support Holder amid resignation calls." That was the story that may have been written about DWS. Boyle sent me a statement explaining the reporting.

The charge that I was blackmailing Woodhouse and planned to make up Debbie Wasserman Schultz's position on Holder is ludicrous. Had I not received a response to the question, the story would have said that a spokesperson for Debbie Wasserman Schultz refused to provide verbal support of Holder to TheDC.  It would have been framed exactly like the Boren story here, with a note that repeated emails to Woodhouse were ignored.
Currently, more than a hundred lawmakers have called for Holder to step down and The Daily Caller's readers deserve to know where the DNC Chairwoman stands on the issue. That's why I asked the question. If she remained silent, the top national Democrat's choice to not defend, or publicly support, the Attorney General would have been an obvious indicator of her lack of support for Obama's embattled top cop. 
Now though, we know where she stands in regard to Holder.  It's interesting that only one out of the hundreds of people I have posed this question to - and given them a deadline to respond - chose to turn to the media in a transparent effort to divert attention off of Operation Fast and Furious and on to me.  My guess is that he won't be successful.

Journalism chin-stroke time: Is Boyle doing anything wrong? Not in principle. Some of the Democrats he's asked about F&F have come out with full-on Holderphilia. Some blow him off. The disagreement here is over whether Boyle should have threatened to run with a "DNC Chair won't back Holder" story. No, he shouldn't have. But he didn't.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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