Referring to the false allegation that in the 1993 movie The War Room, Clinton campaign adviser Mickey Kantor called Indiana voters “shit,” Jake Tapper wrote on his blog: “Were I not currently eating a chicken sandwich at Liberty East Restaurant in Charlotte, NC, while working on a World News piece about the economy and the candidates, I would go to Blockbuster, rent a copy of The War Room and settle this matter as much as possible.” Media Matters for America did obtain a copy of the film and does indeed “settle” the matter; Kantor did not call anyone “shit,” and he was not referring to Hoosiers when he said, “Those people are shitting.”
In a May 2 post on his ABC News blog Political Punch, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper republished a May 1 post he had temporarily taken down, in which he asserted: “Bill Clinton's Trade Representative, a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and an informal adviser to her campaign -- once seemed to have some not-so-nice things to say about the Hoosiers his chosen candidate is working so hard to pursue. As seen in The War Room, watching election returns come in, [Mickey] Kantor seems to say in hushed tones to James Carville, 'Look at Indiana, wait, wait -- look at Indiana. 42-40. It doesn't matter if we win. Those people are s
. Excuse me.' " After noting that both Kantor and War Room director D.A. Pennebaker have reportedly denied that Kantor called people from Indiana “shit,” Tapper added: “Were I not currently eating a chicken sandwich at Liberty East Restaurant in Charlotte, NC, while working on a World News piece about the economy and the candidates, I would go to Blockbuster, rent a copy of The War Room and settle this matter as much as possible.” Media Matters for America did obtain a digital copy of The War Room and downloaded the relevant section. It is provided here and clearly indicates that Kantor is not saying, “Those people are shit” ; he is, in fact, saying, “Those people are shitting,” presumably referring to the Bush campaign's reaction to the poll numbers he was reading.
In the film, a 1993 documentary about former President Bill Clinton's campaign staff during his 1992 presidential campaign, Kantor is seen discussing poll numbers with Clinton advisers James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. Subtitles from the original movie erroneously state that Kantor says, “Those people are gonna shit,” followed by "[Whispering]."
According to a May 2 blog entry by Politico senior political writer Ben Smith, Pennebaker asserted that in The War Room, “He [Kantor] says they must be shi**ing in the White House” :
He said the initial expletive referred to the anticipated reaction in the Bush White House to the fact that Ross Perot's polling numbers were holding strong.
“What he says is he's surprised Perot's numbers are holding,” said Pennebaker in a brief phone interview. “He says they must be shi**ing in the White House.”
After Tapper published his May 1 post, the Drudge Report linked to it under the headline: “FLASHBACK: Clinton Informal Adviser on Hoosiers in 1992: 'S**t'...” The Drudge Report also linked to Pennebaker's assertion, from Smith's blog entry, that Kantor was being misquoted, under the headline: “Clip Said Doctored...”
A version of the video from The War Room, which Tapper did not post, but that has circulated widely online, suggests that Kantor also called the people of Indiana “white n
rs.” According to Smith's blog post, Pennebaker said that remark “appeared to have been entirely fabricated, with new audio dubbed onto the original movie.” In the original, Kantor appears to be asking Stephanopoulos, “How would you like to be Charlie Black at this point?” Black was one of the primary spokesmen for the Bush-Quayle campaign.
In a May 2 interview with The Huffington Post, Kantor said of the remarks in question: “And I was talking about the polling and not the people ... If you look at The War Room, this is not the way Carville or George interpreted my statement. This is frankly libelous.”
From The War Room:
CARVILLE: It looks good. Now, let's just say: I like the text here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you beep Wendy, please?
KANTOR: Oh, you got it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Looks pretty good. Looks pretty good.
KANTOR: Look at -- look at Indiana. Wait, wait. Look at Indiana, 42-40. It doesn't matter if we win. Those people are shitting. Oh, excuse me. [inaudible]
How would you like to be Charlie Black at this point? Look at Texas. Go down to Texas.
KANTOR: Yeah, 39-39.
CARVILLE: Perot's kind of holding, isn't he?
KANTOR: Yeah, he held. His numbers held.
CARVILLE: I'm sort of surprised, frankly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This could be a landslide.
UPDATE: As Media Matters was finalizing this item, Tapper posted an update in which he acknowledged that “Kantor Never Impugned Hoosiers.”