In a June 14 nationally syndicated Washington Post column about the performance of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), David S. Broder stated: "When I wrote in April about his shortcomings as majority leader, The Post received a protest letter signed by the other 50 senators in the Democratic Caucus, attesting to their devotion to their leader." In fact, the Democratic senators' letter did more than that -- it refuted Broder's contention in his April column that there is a "long list of senators of both parties who are ready for" Reid's "springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end."
As Media Matters for America documented, in his April 26 column, "The Democrats' Gonzales," Broder equated Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' handling of the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys to Reid's statement that the war in Iraq "is lost" and opined that Reid, like Gonzales, is "a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance." Broder claimed that "a long list of senators of both parties" is "ready" for Reid's "ineptitude to end," but provided no evidence of any Democratic senator taking that position.
In response to the column, the other 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus signed a letter (which appeared in the April 27 edition of The Washington Post) to "contest the attack on Sen. Harry Reid's leadership by David S. Broder." The senators wrote, "In contrast to Mr. Broder's insinuations, we believe Mr. Reid is an extraordinary leader who has effectively guided the new Democratic majority through these first few months with skill and aplomb." They also asserted, "Mr. Reid has the support of members of the caucus."
During an April 30 interview on XM Radio's The Bob Edwards Show, Edwards, referring to the letter, asked Broder: "Did you get it wrong, or is the Democratic support weaker than they would have us believe?" Broder responded "no" and added with apparent sarcasm:
BRODER: I thought it was terribly moving that 50 Democratic senators, including one who's been hospitalized for months and has not made it to the Senate floor, spontaneously put their names on the letter to you and to The Washington Post, condemning me for what I had said about their leader, Harry Reid. I have never seen such a wonderfully orchestrated outburst in a long time. So, it was -- gotta be impressive testimony that they really want to keep him as their leader.
In dismissing the Democratic caucus' stated support of Reid, Broder again failed to provide any evidence to back up the claim he made in his column -- that there is a "long list of senators of both parties who are ready for these two [Reid's and Gonzales'] springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end."
During an online discussion with Post readers on May 4, Broder again sarcastically described the Democrats' letter: "Since I would never question their motives, I have to assume that they spontaneously and simultaneously chose to express their confidence in their leader on the same day last week." Broder also again refused to provide evidence for his claim that a number of Democratic senators were "ready" for Reid's "ineptitude to end" after one of his readers expressly asked him to state his sources:
Asheville, N.C.: You wrote in your column of April 26 that Senators in both parties (indeed, a long list of them) were dissatisfied and embarrassed, etc. about Harry Reid. What Democratic senators were on that long list? What was your source? Do you stand by what you reported in that column?
David S. Broder: Yes, I do. The senators will have to speak for themselves, but his record speaks volumes.