Cable TV interviewers have had trouble nailing down Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul on the authorship of the racist newsletters that went out in his name in the 1990s. Typical of the frustration was the classic CNN interview in the runup to the Iowa caucuses.
Reporter Gloria Borger was pushing the candidate on just how he could profess to have gone ignorant of the newsletters’ racist passages, as he’d claimed before. Paul, generally a gentleman, put on his boor cap.
“Not all the time..,” he sneered when asked whether he’d read the newsletters. Then this contempt: “Why don’t you go back and look at what I said yesterday on CNN and what I’ve said for 20-some years? I didn’t write ‘em, I disavow ‘em — that’s it....I was still practicing medicine. That was probably why I wasn’t a very good publisher, because I had to make a living.”
Things between Borger and Paul got a bit contentious at that point---contentious enough that Paul made this improbable and unfathomable statement:
“I’ve never read that stuff. I’ve never read — I came — was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written.’’
That quote appears in a Washington Post investigative piece from this morning on the Ron Paul newsletters. The story breaks ground by getting people involved in the long-shuttered Ron Paul newsletter operation on the record about what went down in the production of those offensive tracts. Here’s one choice quote, from Renae Hathway, a former secretary at Paul’s firm: “It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it.’’
Sound like a slam from a disgruntled former Paulite? Not: Hathway, according to the story, is a current supporter.
So where Paul said that he never even read the stuff, a former employee depicts a more intense involvement in the minutiae of newsletter making. Not just “read,” mind you, but “proof.” To lay it on thicker, the Post report says that the offensive content landed in the newsletters under a business strategy designed to improve their appeal. Racism pays, that is.
Jesse Benton, who speaks for Paul’s campaign, repeated the much-used line about the congressman’s alleged non-involvement in the production of the newsletters — the very same line that takes a beating in this report. Now the cycle will begin again: Whereas Borger’s tough questions were made possible in large part by the New Republic’s investigative piece on the newsletters, now there’s another set of facts to put directly to the candidate. Cable news people will hunt down Paul on the trail and ask him about these latest revelations. Perhaps he’ll adjust the story again, prompting yet another investigation into this lurid history. Of course, the candidate himself could stop all the inquiry by sitting down and telling the whole story himself, instead of complaining about how old it is.