The Daily Caller's dubious report suggesting a connection between a David Axelrod tweet about Gallup's polling methodology and a Justice Department lawsuit filed against that company found its way to Fox News, which embellished the already problematic story by fabricating the existence of direct communications between Axelrod and Gallup's employees.
On his Fox Business program this morning, Stuart Varney claimed that Axelrod, “reportedly furious” over a May Gallup poll unfavorable for President Obama, “personally contacted some Gallup employees who now say they felt threatened.”
Here is the sum total of Axelrod comments cited, directly or indirectly, by the Daily Caller article Varney was pushing. Note how “furious” Axelrod appeared to be.
The Caller article did not show that Axelrod directly contacted anyone at Gallup at any time. While it alleged that internal Gallup emails show him “attempting to subtly intimidate” the firm, it provided no direct or indirect evidence that he actually spoke to anyone there. The piece referenced the tweet, and an email in which a Gallup employee mentioned that “the White House 'has asked' a senior Gallup staffer 'to come over and explain our methodology too,” with another Gallup employee making a Godfather joke about Axelrod.
Given that the story is clearly being pushed by someone at Gallup who wants to attack the Obama administration, if such direct communications existed they would surely have been given to and then reported by the Caller article's author.
Even conservative bloggers have pointed out that the timeline the Caller article lays out regarding the DOJ's lawsuit against Gallup debunks the article's suggestion of a connection between that lawsuit and Axelrod's single tweet from four months earlier.
UPDATE: The bogus story has now spread to Fox News' America Live, where guest anchor Shannon Bream said the Caller's story “suggests a conspiracy theory” between the filing of the DOJ lawsuit and Axelrod's “angry tweet” (which she did not quote or show on-air). Both guests, attorney Brian Claypool and GOP pollster Chris Wilson, agreed that there was a connection between the two events; Wilson said it was indicative of “Chicago-style politics” on the part of President Obama and called it “frightening,” while Claypool said the DOJ “needs to hire Houdini right now as a legal consultant” to “get them out of this mess.”