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Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Chicago Tribune Edition)

Frank James of the Chicago Tribune is strangely hobbled by journalistic convention. He writes:

The Swamp - Chicago Tribune - Blogs.: Bush cabinet member's world of make-believe: A recent story in the Dallas Business Journal reported that in a speech to a Dallas real-estate group, [HUD Secretary] Jackson told a story about a businessman who won a place on the federal government's list of approved contractors visiting Jackson's Washington, D.C. office to thank him.

During his visit, according to Jackson, the prospective contractor began bad-mouthing President Bush. As Jackson told the story in Dallas, he was understandably deeply offended and made sure the businessman didn't receive a HUD contract. The story quotes Jackson as saying: "He didn't get the contract. Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

That a cabinet secretary would openly brag in public about keeping an approved contractor from receiving a contract because of the contractor's stated political beliefs would be astounding in it's own right.... Jackson's spokesperson, Dustee Tucker... said that Jackson made the whole story up.... "So he was offering an anecdote... the secretary's point was a hypothetical, what he said was an anecdote. It did not happen."

Let's stop here momentarily and leave aside Tucker's apparent misimpression that an anecdote is by definition fictional. It isn't. An anecdote is a story about something that really happened, often used to illustrate a larger point....

Let's pick up with Tucker's explanation. "It did not happen. The secretary is not part of the contracting process here at HUD. That is handled by a senior official in our procurement office. He was offering it as an anecdote to say this is what happens. People in D.C. will come up to you, trash you, say terrible things about you, trash your boss, and then they'll turn around and ask you for money. So the secretary was offering it as an anecdote," she said. "He definitely said this in front of the (Dallas) meeting. But this meeting did not occur. The meeting with this official (in his office.) It was a hypothetical. He was offering it anecdotally. You know when you tell a joke you put yourself in first person, for delivery," she said. "You say I was on this train and so and so did this even if you know it wasn't a train. The secretary was putting himself in that first person to make the story more effective... The secretary was taking situations that have happened to him in the past. As you know, people come up to political figures all the time and say 'I don't like you, I don't like your politics, I don't like the president... He was blending together things that happened to him in the past."...

Clearly, Jackson very much would prefer to have evaporate the notion that he's torpedoeing contracts of administration critics, so much so that he'd rather push the idea that he says untruths in his speeches. Either way, it's all very strange.

It's not "strange," Frank. That's not an appropriate description. The appropriate description is: "Jackson and his flack Tucker are bats--- insane and live in a fantasy world. They have no business working for the federal government at any level. They need to leave yesterday--and the people who hired them need to leave yesterday too."

"Strange"? Feh!

UPDATE: The Daily Kos has a quote from last week, when flack Tucker's story was different:

"On May 3, Tucker told the Business Journal that the contract Jackson was referring to in Dallas was `an advertising contract with a minority publication,' though she could not provide the contract's value."

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