At the “Code Red” rally today, I did the reporting for this post. When I returned to the office, I fired off a 3:41 email to Jane Hamsher.
Hamsher did not respond; I posted at 3:57. At what’s timestamped as 2:33 — Pacific Time, I assume — she responded:
Dave Weigel isn’t a journalist, he’s a smear-monger that makes things up and projects his own fantasies onto his stories… I know Katherine, we were on MSNBC together and we’ve spoken about working on the pot legalization measure in California in the future. She tells me that when Weigel approached her and asked her who her “source” was, she didn’t say. He said “It’s Jane Hamsher, isn’t it…I’ve been around.” According to Katherine, she didn’t respond. Weigel decided to print his own suspicions as fact, and didn’t bother to contact me for confirmation.
More insults follow, including a subtle swing at possible TWI donors. I’m more interested in Serkes’ response to my post in an email — she now says that she did not mean to attribute “union thuggery” to Hamsher, and because Hamsher denies saying that, I’ll update my original post. But I am disappointed that Hamsher would use such personal insults and fabricate quotes to make me look like a liar.
Here is the relevant part of my conversation with Serkes. I was recording the rally, so I have audio to back up this transcript.
SERKES: They’re saying that there’s some serious arm-twisting, and their words were union thuggery.
ME: Who’s the they?
SERKES: The progressive side. A progressive source told me that there was serious union thuggery going on this weekend.
ME: Is this the Firedoglake folks?
SERKES: It’s Jane. You’re figured it out.
ME: I’m not new at this.
SERKES: She said they were after Altmire this weekend. Yeah, because Jane and I last talked Saturday.
As I said, Serkes no longer stands by her attribution of “union thuggery” to Hamsher, so I will correct that. I apologize to Jane Hamsher for not giving her more time to respond to my email. When Serkes spoke to me, it seemed clear that she was characterizing her conversation with Hamsher and recalled “union thuggery” enough to use it twice and, twice, attribute it that way. But that is not what she meant to say.
As for Hamsher’s insults of me and my publication — which she supports with fabricated quotes — I’d welcome an apology and a retraction.
By the way, by “I’m not new at this,” I meant I’ve been covering this stuff closely and know that Hamsher has made some high-profile team-ups with conservative activists such as Grover Norquist. And I’d argue that figuring this stuff out, and getting people to name sources, is absolutely the work of a journalist.
UPDATE: Here’s the audio.