Steve Stockman’s Campaign Flips Out Because I Pointed Out It Wouldn’t Tell Reporters If/Where the Candidate Was

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 20 2014 2:26 PM

Steve Stockman’s Campaign Flips Out Because I Pointed Out It Wouldn’t Tell Reporters If/Where the Candidate Was

So, speaking of conservatives finding solidarity by bashing the media—while I was in transit out of Houston, the campaign of Rep. Steve Stockman started a skirmish with me on social media. Donny Ferguson, the campaign's spokesman, took exception to a line in my story about the GOP primary for Texas' U.S. Senate seat. I wrote that Sen. John Cornyn was campaigning heavily, and that Stockman wasn't, to the mystification of local activists, candidates, and reporters. Specifically:

Reporters don’t know where he’s campaigning, or whether he’s campaigning at all—when I asked a spokesman, he said, “We’re not interested.”

This set off Ferguson, who started making claims about my reporting, tweeting at Texas reporters to call me a liar.


Obviously, I take any accusation that I "lied" very seriously. This particular accusation is loaded, false, and malicious. What I wrote, and meant, was that before coming to Texas I asked where Stockman was campaigning, so I could cover it. The campaigns/offices of John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Dwayne Stovall, and some House candidates all let me know where to follow the candidates, and gave me time to ask them questions. Stockman didn't, and when I asked reporters in Texas whether they had any clues where Stockman would be, they told me they were left in the same darkness.

Here's the first part of my email exchange with Ferguson, which he has already tweeted.

And here's a final email from me, which Ferguson did not tweet.

Now, look at what Ferguson claimed in the excerpted tweets. Let's just pull apart the falsehoods.

1) He claimed "I said 'we're not interested' in speaking to him." I specifically said that I didn't need an interview with Stockman for what I was writing.

2) He claimed "Weigel asked me for an interview." Again: I specifically didn't do that. Previously, I'd asked Ferguson to let me talk to Stockman for a podcast, an upcoming feature at Slate that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, and Sen. Mike Lee have all participated in. Ferguson turned me down, so, plan B, I tried to see if I could see Stockman on the trail to fill out a story.

3) He claimed I "said [a Rick] Perry story wouldn't interest anyone." Not what I said. I was in Texas to cover candidates on the ballot for the March 4 election. Perry's retiring, and there'd be plenty of time to write about him if he ran for another office.

Hey, sometimes campaigns deny access to reporters. No news there. But the invisibility of Stockman's campaign is part of the story in Texas. And so is its dishonestly. Stockman's campaign uses social media to create the appearance of action and momentum while the candidate avoids public forums and the press. One example, from today, comes from Stockman's Twitter account.

"Another" Texas straw poll—that implies that Stockman just won it, right? Wrong. This straw poll happened two months ago, right after Stockman entered the race.

I get that Stockman will win a certain number of voters in Texas by dint of being "not John Cornyn." I get that he can do this without any transparency, honesty, or tact. Maybe I couldn't cover the "campaign" in person, but I thank Ferguson for this study of how it's being run.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

Naomi Klein Is Wrong

Multinational corporations are doing more than governments to halt climate change.

The Strange History of Wives Gazing at Their Husbands in Political Ads


See Me

Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 1:38 PM Mad About Modi
 Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.

Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 30 2014 11:42 AM Listen to Our September Music Roundup Hot tracks from a cooler month, exclusively for Slate Plus members.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 12:42 PM How to Save Broken Mayonnaise
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 11:55 AM The Justice Department Is Cracking Down on Sales of Spyware Used in Stalking
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.