Abusive Tactics Gave Vote-buying Story Legs
Photos by Mark Bralley
By Dennis Domrzalski
It was a horrible week for Heather Wilson’s U.S. Senate campaign.
Stories about the campaign’s alleged effort to buy votes and delegates at the state Republican Party’s pre-primary
The anti-Wilson venom spewed from
It was vicious. Swept up in the damage were KKOB Radio and the state Republican Party. The station was blasted for caving to pressure from
MacCallum resigned in protest. KKOB News Director Pat Allen became the laughingstock of the blogosphere, and probably the entire news world, when his memo to MacCallum on why he killed the stories hit the Internet on this blog. The memo suggested that MacCallum’s stories weren’t valid because bloggers hadn’t picked them up. One of the state’s biggest alleged news operation had ceded the news initiative to bloggers.
The state GOP looked stupid and corrupt for refusing to concede that it was wrong for campaigns to pay for people to show up at the conventions and vote for certain delegates to the party’s March 15 statewide nominating convention.
It was ugly, vicious, and for
It was a disaster.
But the real disaster of it for
MacCallum’s stories, which were broadcast more than a week after the GOP conventions, weren’t going anywhere. They ran on Tuesday and Wednesday the week after the conventions. No one had picked them up—not print journalist, not TV talking heads, not bloggers. By Thursday of that week they would have ended and almost no one would have known that
Allen caved, MacCallum quit, and the vote-buying story that would have faded away and that everyone would have forgotten became a huge story.
The ineptitude didn’t stop there. I called
Whitney Cheshire behind Darren White
I explained Cargo’s allegations and asked again if they had paid people to attend the conventions—a simple question—and the response was the same. No comment would be made unless the campaign had a recording of Cargo making the allegations.
For a reporter, that was an outright refusal to answer the question. And when somebody refuses to answer a simple question, it says they’re guilty as charged.
The carnage didn’t stop there. Rather than making a case that the payments were some kind of noble deed—Republicans scooping poor people off the streets and giving them a chance to participate in Democracy—GOP operatives tried to smear and destroy Cargo, who is a true New Mexico hero. Read it again: Dave Cargo is a
Rather than admitting they were wrong, party operatives, with the help of lapdog KKOB Radio Operations Manager Pat Frisch, tried to slime Cargo. Instead of answering the questions and talking about the sleaziness of letting campaigns pay for people to attend the nominating conventions, the GOP smearmeisters screamed that Cargo was once seen in the presence of Bill Clinton and that he had had his picture taken with the former president.
They pretty much accused the former governor of high treason for showing up at Hillary Clinton’s recent book signing in
On Friday, during the taping of the Eye on New Mexico TV talk show, Republican attorney Pat Rogers produced a magical invoice that said a party operative had paid Cargo’s $20 registration fee in 2004--four years earlier! The invoice was dated March 7, the day of the taping.
Rather than honestly addressing the issue, the state GOP—the club, the party, the gang, the would-be empire—tried to kill the messenger.
It didn’t work.
By the week’s end,
The would-be empire and
It isn’t all bad, though, for the non-answering
Worthy of jobs in Hillary Clinton’s campaign.