How a Senator's 2013 Interview Was Turned Into a Fake 2014 Attack on Him

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 29 2014 3:25 PM

How a Senator's 2013 Interview Was Turned Into a Fake 2014 Attack on Him

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Mark Pryor: not a same-day flip-flopper.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This is a story about the world of oppo and the world of generic responses to the State of the Union, and the hilarious happenings that can occur when the worlds intersect. The Washington Free Beacon is up with an un-bylined story portraying Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat fighting uphill for re-election, as a flip-flopper

Pryor told Arkansas’ KFTA that he was “disappointed” at the lack of specifics in Obama’s speech.
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“Overall, I’m disappointed with the president’s State of the Union address because he was heavy on rhetoric, but light on specifics about how we can move our country forward,” said Pryor.
“I’ve always said that I’ll work with the president when I think he’s right, but oppose him when I think he’s wrong,” added Pryor.
Pryor later told THV11 that he was happy with the speech, pointing out that Obama tried to give specifics and to be bipartisan.

The damning clip comes from a short post-speech interview with Little Rock's THV11. It begins, awkwardly, with the anchor in the middle of a sentence—" ... so weighing in." The clip actually started with the anchor coherently saying, "Arkansas' lone Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor also weighing in." During the intro and throughout the clip, a weather button appeared on the chyron.

Here's the problem: It wasn't 44 degrees in Little Rock last night. The polar vortex turned the area into a temporary icebox, with a nighttime temperature of 22 degrees. This interview is from after the 2013 State of the Union, i.e., before Pryor drew his Republican challenger, Tom Cotton. This year, Pryor (via a statement) gave THV11 a comment in line with the comments to KFTA. (I was in the Capitol last night and didn't see Pryor participating in the media scrums, which also made me curious about this clip.)

Anyway, the discrepency would have been obvious had the video clip not cut off the chyron or the intro. It's a coincidence, perhaps, that an identical version of the clip appears on the Tumblr of America Rising, the independent pro-Republican oppo outfit, and it's misidentified as a clip from last night.

Does Pryor come off well in the two clips? Eh, it's funny to see him praising the State of the Union one year and huffing at it a year later, when he's in trouble politically. But that's one storyflip-flopping on the same night, about the same speech, would have been downright embarrassing. 

Would have been. He's not the one who whiffed here.

UPDATE: The Free Beacon has updated its story, changing the headline and the text to make it about Pryor's long-term tone change.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.