Does New York Times columnist Al Hunt actually have the psychic ability to tell what Rep. Steve King REALLY meant by a comment the congressman made on immigration? Rep. King doesn't think so. And, if you watch this video, you won't either.
On Feb. 24, 2013, Al Hunt wrote a New York Times column entitled, "A Struggle for Control of the Republican Party" in which he accused King of being well-known for making anti-immigrant rants, citing comments King made last year referring to bird dogs.
"Mr. King has made a name for himself with anti-immigrant rants. Last year, he said Americans should select eligible immigrants the same way they would go about picking a 'good bird dog.' That means choosing 'the one that's the friskiest, the one that's the most engaged, and not the one that's over there sleeping in the corner.' He later explained that he meant this as a compliment, that he likes bird dogs."
But, in an exclusive interview with "The Right Views," Rep. King explains that:
As the video of Rep. King's comments shows, what King actually said was:
"You put out a beacon like the Statue of Liberty, and who comes here? The most vigorous from every country that has donated legal immigrants to the United States of America. We've got the cream of the crop.
"You know, we always had bird dogs around our place and right now in our family there's a black lab, a white lab, a yellow lab and my brother has a chocolate lab. And you go in and you look at a litter of pups and you watch them. You watch them how they play and run around a little bit. And what do you want? You want a good bird dog? You want one that's going to be aggressive? Pick the one that's the friskiest, the one that's engaged the most and not the one that's over there sleeping in the corner. If you want a pet to sit on the couch, pick the one that's sleeping in the corner.
"So, you get the pick of the litter and you've got yourself a pretty good bird dog. Well, we've got the pick of every donor civilization on the planet because it's hard to get here. They had to be inspired to come. We got the vigor from the planet to come to America, and whichever generation it was and then we taught our children that same thing."
Asked about Hunt's characterization of his comments, Rep. King told "The Right Views":
"There's so much of that statement that's false, there's hardly nowhere to start.
"But, what I said should've been available - and they might have made it available - to Al Hunt, but I sent him the link and I sent him the text and made sure he had the easiest possible access to the original source. You can hear it in my voice.
"A video that was taken by American Bridge, which is a leftist tracking organization and their job is to try to find anything they can that can be converted into a negative attack on a Republican.
"And even their edited version, which is out there available to the public, cannot draw any other conclusion other than it was a pro-legal immigrant statement. It was no rant, for one thing.
"And, you know, to illustrate, what really took place is this, is that I've talked about this in a way that I don't know anybody else alive that does. And, I use the Statue of Liberty as an image that attracts people to the United States. And, embodied within that image all over the world is God-given American liberty and the freedoms that we have.
"That's freedom of speech, religion, the press, property rights, jury of your peers, the concept of federalism, being able to face your accuser if you're accused in a court of law, free enterprise, that covers a lot of the pillars of American exceptionalism and a lot of the vision people around the world see when they see the Statue of Liberty.
"That's a magnet that causes the cream of the crop to self-select and get through this difficult process of becoming an American. And, that's a great big reason that hardly anybody talks about on why America's been such a successful nation."
Rep. King said his comments explain that legal immigrants are, in fact, "self-selected." "They pick themselves," he said.
But, the New York Times' Hunt insists he knows what Rep. King was truly saying.
"I believe paralleling immigrants to birddogs is an anti-immigrant rant and that whatever your intent, you were quoted accurately and not out of context," Hunt said in his email reply to King. "In this column, there is nothing to rectify."
"Well, I'd just say that's false. First of all, I didn't parallel immigrants to bird dogs, I just drew a simple analogy," King tells "The Right Views."
"And, you would think a journalist of any standing would understand the difference between those two things, and that is, I think, a willful mischaracterization written by Al Hunt and I thought that his tone was disrespectful and dismissive."
"I am unaware of any dog, frisky or sleepy, heeding the call of the Statue of Liberty," Hunt snarked in his email to the congressman.
Rep. King says he's convinced Hunt didn't even bother to watch the video or review the links the congressman sent to him:
"He could not have...I'll go on record: He did not review the original material before he wrote the article and he would not review the original material after I sent it to him - links and all, easier than I'd sent him the original material before."
So, who knows better what Rep. King actually meant by his comments: columnist Al Hunt or King, himself?
Which brings us back to the issue of Hunt's ability to read minds - or, lack thereof.
Asked if he disputed that Al Hunt actually has the psychic ability to determine what he (King) was truly thinking when he made his comments, Rep. King said:
"I absolutely dispute that. I wouldn't assign him any psychic ability, but I will tell you that if he postures himself as a professional and he has so violated the most basic professional standards, I think it casts a negative light on his employers - all of Bloomberg and the New York Times - that are not reviewing their sources, either."
For his part, Rep. King says he's determined to hold Hunt accountable for misrepresenting his comments:
"I don't intend to let this go. I'm going to push this thing until it's settled, one way or the other."