Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rubio camp dodges absenteeism issue by shooting messenger

How a libertarian TV host became the focus of a Bush-Rubio fight - Washington Post - David Weigel:

January 14, 2016 - "Atlanta-based TV commentator Ben Swann is used to seeing his work recycled. Early in his career, in New Mexico, he racked up awards for spot news reporting. After President Obama took office, he launched a video series called 'Reality Check,' the sort of behind-the-news feature that assures his audience that they are being rescued from the lies of the day.... The twist: Swann is an extremely skeptical libertarian....

"In 2013, he filmed a short independent documentary about the 'Rethink 9/11' campaign in New York, which had bought a billboard to drum up support for a fresh investigation into the collapse of the 7 World Trade Center building.... Swann admitted that the video could hurt him....  'Probably the people we got the most pushback from were libertarians, who said: Hey, don't talk about this. You'll look like you're crazy,' said Swann. 'Everybody who asks those questions gets smeared. All of a sudden, you're a truther'....

"Wednesday afternoon ... the New York Times's Maggie Haberman spotlighted Swann's cameo in an ad by the pro-Jeb Bush super PAC Right to Rise. Swann's October 'Fact Check' segment on Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's voting record in the U.S. Senate was the one RTR used to quickly explain his absences. Matter-of-factly, Haberman noted that Swann had 'examined questions about whether 7 World Trade Center could have collapsed as authorities said it did, and allegations that the gunman in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings didn’t act alone.' Swann told The Washington Post that he did not receive a request for comment until the post went up....

"But just the whiff of "9/11 trutherism" pulled Rubio's campaign into the fray. Rubio's rapid response pro, Joe Pounder, cited it as more proof of Bush's desperation.
.@JebBush so desperate to launch false attacks on @marcorubio that they are using a 9-11 and Sandy Hook truther
5:28 PM - 13 Jan 2016
"Here was an ad hominem attack, defined. No one had disputed Swann's 'Reality Check' segment — and no one was really explaining how he talked about conspiracy theories. Consistently, he has explored them as a reporter, asking why other people are asking questions. He is as likely to debunk the questions as to leave them open....

"After Swann saw his reputation battered on Twitter, he noticed that Pounder, in his old role at the oppo shop America Rising, had promoted his work at least twice.... In 2012 ... it did not matter that Swann was a libertarian-leaning reporter who would check into oddball theories instead of quickly dismissing them. In 2016, with Rubio under attack, this began to matter a great deal."

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