Kurtz suggested no Republican candidate has hired "outrageous" blogger -- what about McCain?


On CNN, Howard Kurtz suggested that no Republican presidential candidate has hired "conservative bloggers who have said some outrageous things." In doing so, Kurtz overlooked Sen. John McCain's hiring of conservative blogger Patrick Hynes, who has made numerous inflammatory statements regarding religion and Democrats.

On the February 11 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, during a discussion of the controversy surrounding two bloggers hired by John Edwards' presidential campaign, Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington said that Edwards "did the right thing" in retaining the bloggers, who had come under fire from conservatives for their previous writings. CNN host and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz responded, "We'll play that tape if -- when ... a Republican candidate hires conservative bloggers who have said some outrageous things." But Kurtz's assumption -- that no GOP presidential campaign employs a blogger with a record of offensive statements -- overlooks Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) hiring of conservative blogger Patrick Hynes, who has made numerous inflammatory statements regarding religion and Democrats.

In 2006, McCain's political action committee hired Hynes -- a blogger for the conservative weblog Ankle Biting Pundits -- as a consultant. As Media Matters for America noted, the media have largely ignored Hynes' failure to disclose his employment with McCain's campaign, even though he posted several blog entries praising McCain as a presidential candidate and attacking McCain's rivals. One exception was Kurtz, who highlighted Hynes' controversial actions in his July 27, 2006, Post column.

But as his statement on Reliable Sources indicates, Kurtz has not paid similar attention to Hynes' history of "outrageous" statements:

  • Hynes referred to the Democratic Party as "anti-Christian." Hynes titled a July 6, 2006, blog post: "Exclusive Poll Info: Democrats Devolve Deeper into an Anti-Christian Party."
  • Hynes asserted that the United States is a "Christian nation." In a June 2006 interview regarding his book, In Defense of the Religious Right (Nelson Current, 2006), Hynes was asked whether he believed it was fair to call America a "Christian nation." As blogger and attorney Glenn Greenwald noted, Hynes responded: "Yes. America is a Christian nation. As I write in my book, 'Is America a Christian nation? Of course it is. Don't be ridiculous. What a stupid question.' "
  • Hynes apparently called Chelsea Clinton "hideously ugly" in a 2004 posting on the conservative website FreeRepublic.com -- echoing a joke McCain had reportedly told about Chelsea Clinton years earlier.
  • Hynes suggested that Rep. Waxman be nicknamed "Pig Man." In late 2006, Hynes posted a photograph of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-NY) on Ankle Biting Pundits and solicited captions, saying, "[A] dude with a mug like this guy really needs a nickname." Hynes and his readers went on to offer numerous vulgar suggestions, as Greenwald explained:

Hynes entered his own Waxman contest by adding an "update" to his post -- a You Tube clip from Seinfeld in which the word "Pig Man" is mentioned five times in roughly 10 seconds. Most of the other entries for Waxman's nickname on Hynes' blog centered around what Hynes' readers apparently think is Waxman's big nose, though some were just more commonplace profanity. Here were the first four entries: "Nosferatu!" "NOSEGAY." "The Nose Knows." "Henry 'Nostrils' Waxman." Those were followed by: "How bout 'Asshole'?" "Prick?" "His face frightens children and repulses women."

After the first set of vulgar and insulting comments, a commenter objected that Hynes' behavior was "juvenile" and, in response, Hynes egged on his readers more: "C'mon. You guys have given us six years of "smirking chimp.' Let us have a little fun." That's a great contest McCain's consultant is running. Does McCain countenance his consultant's calling Henry Waxman "pig man" and encouraging his readers to mock the size of Waxman's big nose (a standard, highly offensive stereotype) and to spray vulgarities at Waxman?

From the February 11 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

KURTZ: But I want to move on, [Instapundit blogger] Glenn Reynolds, to John Edwards' presidential campaign.

As you know, he hired two liberal bloggers, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, who had written some inflammatory things. Let me read something that Amanda Marcotte had written. This is, of course, before joining the campaign.

"Can't a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair."

That, of course, a reference to the Duke sexual-assault case.

So what was Edwards going to do? He agonized. He said he was personally offended by what they've written, but he's keeping them on.

What was your reaction to that?

REYNOLDS: Well, I actually think Edwards did the right thing, though I'll note that most of the stuff that she said that was really inflammatory doesn't get read on the air because you probably can't, the stuff about the Virgin Mary, for example. Well, we won't go there. But --

KURTZ: Things that were perceived as being stridently anti-Catholic.

REYNOLDS: Yeah, that's right. And I think if you want to be a political operative -- and there are a lot of people in the blogosphere who really want to be political operatives -- you do have to realize that people who have that as a career goal tend to kind of make sure that they don't leave a nasty back trail. And a lot of people in the blogosphere have left a back trail, and some of it's kind of nasty.

Edwards, I assume, knew all about these people before he hired them. It's sort of hard to imagine that they could have hired bloggers without bothering to read their blogs. So I assume he thought this was OK, and I guess he still thinks it's OK because he's kept them. And that's right.

KURTZ: Well, unless his staff didn't do the obligatory Google search.

Arianna Huffington, if a candidate hires bloggers who have written some things that some folks are going to find offensive, does that candidate have to take responsibility for that?

HUFFINGTON: You know, I think this was another false scandal. And what made it particularly laughable was the fact that you had [right-wing pundit] Michelle Malkin and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League acting as kind of the arbiters of what is civil discourse, when both of them had made really inflammatory and extreme statements on many things, including in the case of Bill Donohue calling Hollywood being run by secular Jews and anti-gay statements.

So this was nothing but an attempt to embarrass Edwards. He did the right thing. He should have done it even earlier.

KURTZ: All right. We'll play that tape if -- when a conservative candidate hires -- a Republican candidate hires conservative bloggers who have said some outrageous things.

Posted In
Howard Kurtz
Reliable Sources
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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