UPDATE: Meehan Apologizes; Weekly Standard Reporter Alleges He Was Roughed Up by Coakley Staffer

Update: Michael Meehan has apologized for shoving McCormack. See the story here.

It's not too hard to imagine the media firestorm that would ensue if a New York Times or Newsweek reporter alleges that a PR aide affiliated with a Republican senatorial candidate shoved him while he was trying to do his job, particularly if the alleged assailant has been nominated by the president for a post requiring Senate confirmation.

But given that the incident in question is a Weekly Standard writer alleging an assault by an aide for Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley (Mass.), it's understandable, but not excusable, if you don't hear much about this from the broadcast or cable news networks.

For its part, the Associated Press --  in a story run on Boston.com -- all but dismissed the incident for the Coakley camp with a five-paragraph article blandly titled "Reporter takes stumble chasing Mass. candidate," wherein John McCormack of the Weekly Standard was said to have been "involved in a scuffle with one of [Coakley's] aides," a man by the name of Michael Meehan.

To its credit, however, the Boston Herald newspaper invested its own resources in covering the story. [See McCormack's account at the Standard here.]

Here's how the Herald's Laura Crimaldi opened her January 13 story, "Reporter roughed up outside Coakley fund-raiser":

A Weekly Standard reporter says he was roughed up last night outside a Washington, D.C. fund-raiser for Attorney General Martha Coakley by someone he believes is associated with her U.S. Senate campaign.

John McCormack, the magazine’s deputy online editor, writes about the incident outside the Sonoma restaurant in an online dispatch entitled: “We Report, We Get Pushed.”

According to McCormack’s account, Coakley took two questions from reporters after the event, but declined to respond to his question. McCormack wrote he asked Coakley whether she stood by statements she made during Monday’s debate about terrorists in Afghanistan.

Crimaldi later noted in detail McCormack's allegations:

McCormack wrote after Coakley finished her answer he followed her and asked her why health care industry lobbyists were supporting her at the fund-raiser. He said she did not reply.

As he continued to walk down the street, he said a man who appeared to be associated with Coakley’s campaign pushed him into a free-standing metal rail.

“I ended up on the sidewalk. I was fine. He helped me up from the ground, but kept pushing up against me, blocking my path toward Coakley down the street,” he wrote.

McCormack said the man asked him whether he was with the media and he responded he works for the Weekly Standard.

His online entry includes a YouTube video of the incident, in which you can hear a man ask McCormack if he’s OK as he lay on the ground. The reporter then tangles with the same man, showing him a press credential as he tries to make his way around him.

McCormack wrote he eventually caught up to Coakley, who declined to answer his question.

He said Coakley staffers informed him they don’t know who pushed him. In an updated blog post, McCormack writes he believes he was pushed by Michael Meehan, president of Blue Line Strategic Communications in Washington, D.C. The Associated Press also identifies the man as Meehan, based on photos and videotape of the incident.

McCormack told the Herald Meehan left a message for him on his voicemail today, but the two have yet to talk.

Meehan did not immediately return a phone message or e-mail.

What's more, as NewsBusters contributor Seton Motley brought to my attention, Meehan was nominated in November 2009 by Obama for a post on the Broadcast Board of Governors. 

From the official White House Web site:

Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate, 11/19/09

[...]

Michael P. Meehan, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a term expiring August 13, 2010, vice D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, term expired.

If this story -- coming a mere six days before a special election in which the Democratic supermajority hangs in the balance -- doesn't yield media coverage, it's hard to believe the mainstream media would have failed to cover for any other reason than that it was hoping to avoid burning any negative impressions of the liberal Democratic candidate Coakley into the minds of Massachusetts voters.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters