Ron Paul’s “Disgruntled” Staffer and the Press Smear of Ron Paul
THOMAS R. EDDLEM
It’s the kind of “scandal” that makes one wonder if the establishment press could ever get a smear story straight. The script is that Rep. Ron Paul is a closet racist, is embroiled in a scandal he falsely denies, while new revelations about his racism are leaking out by the hour.
Establishment reporters ever so desperately want to create this image. And just because the facts aren’t there, that doesn’t keep the mainstream media from trying. Such was the case when a disgruntled former Paul staffer blogged his disagreements with the presidential candidate, which became the following lead in the New York Daily News: “A former Ron Paul staffer says the Republican presidential candidate is ‘unsettled by being around gays personally,’” the Daily News story reported December 27, “and is ‘out of touch’ with black and Hispanic voters.”
The story’s lead paragraph seemed to fit the establishment media talking points that Ron Paul is a racist, if not anti-Semitic, person. It appears to be a follow-up to the legitimate, but minor, news about Paul’s inattentive management of newsletters that were published under his name in the 1980s and early 1990s that contained a handful of racist remarks.
But the lead disappointed. There was no fire under the smoke, just lots of mirrors. The former staffer in question, Eric Dondero, denied in the same blog post that Representative Ron Paul had ever been either a racist or anti-Semite:
Is Ron Paul a “racist.” In short, No. I worked for the man for 12 years, pretty consistently. I never heard a racist word expressed towards Blacks or Jews come out of his mouth. Not once. And understand, I was his close personal assistant.
In short, Dondero veered off the establishment script. His criticisms of Paul were limited to minor social discomfort with homosexuals, and unrelated policy differences. It was hardly the stuff of scandal. There was no red meat for the media to sensationalize, not that lack of a story stopped the establishment from sensationalizing one anyway.
Of course, Dr. Paul’s presidential campaign staff didn’t cut Dondero any slack. “Eric Dondero is a disgruntled former staffer who was fired for performance issues,” Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said in an e-mailed response to CBS News. “He has zero credibility and should not be taken seriously.”
Dondero made it clear his beef with Rep. Paul is the Congressman’s foreign policy views. That, too, formed a tangent from the establishment script. It could be argued that Paul is too unwilling to kill dark-skinned Middle Eastern men and too hesitant to shed U.S. soldiers’ blood in other nations’ causes to suit Dondero’s taste. “If Ron Paul should be slammed for anything,” Dondero wrote, “it’s not some silly remarks he’s made in the past in his Newsletters. It’s over his simply outrageously horrendous views on foreign policy, Israel, and national security for the United States. His near No vote on Afghanistan [after the September 11 attacks]. That is the big scandal. And that is what should be given 100 times more attention from the liberal media, than this Newsletter deal.”
Dondero’s critique of Paul followed a Christmas Day hit-piece by the New York Times, a classic guilt-by-association (or in this case, guilt without association) smear piece. The Times article stressed that some white supremacists had endorsed Rep. Paul for President. Of course, this means nothing. Some Ku Klux Klan organizations endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. Those endorsements didn’t mean Reagan was a racist. It did mean that racists were trying to affix their unpopular cause onto a popular cause, which is to say that it said nothing at all about Reagan. Likewise, when a few kooks try to latch themselves onto the “Ron Paul Revolution” in the hopes of promoting their pet cause of hate, it says nothing about Rep. Paul.
It looks as if the establishment will have to keep trying to smear Ron Paul as a racist. And few longtime observers of the establishment press doubt they will keep trying.