Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Corrections

I've just been having an unpleasant email exchange with a flack for Congressman Zach Wamp, a Republican running to become Tennessee's next governor. I gave a research assistant a long list of politicians linked to C Street who I'd like to talk to. I'd tried most of them before, with little luck, so I wasn't expecting much. It was mostly a courtesy to the congressmen, an opportunity for them to put their spin on their C Street affiliations. So far, I believe, only a press rep for Wamp, Laura Condeluci, has even bothered to answer my researcher's very polite note. Her response, in total: "Is this a joke?"

I thought that was rude, so I wrote back with great earnestness:

No, Ms. Condeluci, but your response must be. Because it'd be hard to imagine a staffer for a U.S. congressmen [sic] expressing such open contempt for the free press. I understand that Rep. Wamp is most comfortable taking canned questions from papers stripped of their investigative capabilities by media consolidation, but I thought it would be fair to give Rep. Wamp a chance to respond to some real questions. I know he's had some nasty things to say about me, but, in the spirit of reconciliation, I'm willing to forgive him! We can have a real lovefest. Wamp talks about reconciliation, too, and works with the Fellowship Foundation, which has practiced it with some of the world's worst murderers, by any standard, left or right. 
Does Rep. Wamp's Christian faith and small-d democratic convictions not extend to journalists, even those he despises? 
Of course it doesn't. Condeluci wrote:
Your previous work has included complete falsehoods and absolute misrepresentations of the Congressman’s record. I work daily with the press and have a high regard for professional journalists; however, I don’t consider you one of them.
I'm interested in the concept of "absolute misrepresentation." To be honest, the worst thing I think said about Wamp was his name, on the Bill Maher Show. "Wamp." It has a nice heavy thud to it, which Maher picked up on, interrupting me and repeating "Wamp?" for laughs. In The Family, I speculated that he may have been part of the prayer group Senator Sam Brownback told me he was in during the mid-90s. Brownback wouldn't say and Wamp's people never returned my calls. Did I guess wrong?

I told Condeluci that I'd be glad to make a correction if she'd care to provide me with some errors. I don't I'll ever hear from her again.

But I wasn't kidding. And, lucky for me, fate comes along to give me an opportunity to prove it. Just tonight I stumbled on an error in The Family. On p. 281, I described a German Family associate named Rudolf Decker, active with their work in Africa, as a Bundestag member during the 1980s. In fact, although Decker often traveled with Bundestag members, as best I can tell he never held office. He moved with ease among some of the world's most powerful and unsavory people -- he counted among his friends Zaire's Mobutu and Sudan's al-Bashir -- but he did so as a private citizen, Chance the Gardener without the charm.

My apologies to Mr. Decker.