AP, Politico Attempt Damage Control for Iowa Democrat's 'Farmer' Insult

March 26th, 2014 10:33 AM

Here's an example of a gaffe which the left-loving press can't ignore — at least online.

Democratic Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley of Iowa spoke of the mortal dangers the nation faces if Republicans win back the Senate in November at a trial lawyers' fundraiser in Texas in January. Among those dangers is the near certainty that "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school" will be put in charge of the Senate's Judiciary Committee. That "farmer" happens to be five-term Hawkeye State GOP Senator Chuck Grassley. Jennifer Jacobs at the Des Moines Register's Iowa Politics Blog appears to have filed the first establishment press report on Braley's belittling, and revealed an important point which others covering the story are conveniently ignoring (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Video captures Braley criticizing Grassley as ‘a farmer from Iowa’


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley apologized this afternoon for offending Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley after video footage surfaced that shows Braley mocking Grassley as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.”

In an effort to embarrass Braley, Republican operatives today began to circulate the video of him warning some out-of-state lawyers that Grassley might become the next judiciary committee chairman if they didn’t contribute money to help elect Braley.

The remarks by Braley, a trial lawyer and congressman who is running in the high-stakes open race for retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat, quickly caught fire on Twitter and various national news sites, as politics watchers predicted that this incident will bruise a campaign that they’ve been confident would see victory in November.

And Grassley’s staff pulled no punches in responding to this today, National Agriculture Day, when a statue of an Iowa ag hero was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol.

“If you help me win this race,” Braley says in the video, posted online by a donor after the Jan. 23 fundraiser in Corpus Christi, Texas and released today by the conservative America Rising PAC, “you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone’s who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years in a visible and public way on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Or you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Braley says. “Because if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

So the video was originally "posted online by a (Braley) donor" who must have liked what he or she heard. It wasn't caught (or was caught and held for timing purposes) by America Rising.

Now let's compare that truth to how the story was delivered in an unbylined Associated Press report:


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley apologized Tuesday to Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley for comments recorded during a fundraiser in Texas in which the Democrat inferred Iowa's senior senator was unfit to be judiciary committee chairman.

"If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice ... on the Senate Judiciary Committee," Braley said, as captured on the video posted from a January fundraiser.

Note how the video's posting by a donor as indicated by Jacobs disappeared. This may lead many readers to believe that it was a stealth Republican operation. How convenient.

A strong point to raise is this: How does AP know Braley is really "sorry"? All it can possibly know is that he apologized, not whether he meant it. But there it is in the headline as a clear attempt to dilute the devastating impact of what he said.

Politico's Emily Schultheis went further and completely ignored how the video originated:

The video, posted online Tuesday afternoon by GOP opposition research firm America Rising, shows Braley speaking to what the group described as a group of lawyers at a fundraiser in Texas.

Readers will naturally believe that America Rising's post was the video's first appearance, which contradicts what the Register's Jacobs wrote.

Over at Slate, John Dickerson, who is also political director at CBS News and who does little to hide his bias, acknowledged that Braley's collection of insults to Grassley and Iowa farmers represent "the gaffe of the year." He then absurdly attempted to draw an equivalence between what Braley said and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's admittedly amateurish overdubbing of additional applause in replaying a portion of McConnell's recent speech at CPAC.

How much exposure Braley's braying gets in print and at broadcast outlets remains to be seen. My experienced guess: Little.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.