So I turn on the TV this morning and the first thing I see is Brian Baker, the general counsel for the Joe Ricketts Ending Spending super PAC that’s supporting Romney. For anyone who slept through yesterday’s hysterics, that’s the super PAC embroiled in controversy after the New York Times published details about the Jeremiah Wright ad campaign proposal it received from ad wiz kid Fred Davis. Baker was having the vapors about the whole thing as he was being questioned by Joe Scarborough and the Morning Joe crew. Okay, to be fair, he presented a believable timeline and explanation of how the Romney super PAC received a proposal for an ad campaign that, Baker said, was completely different from the proposal they’d requested. In a nutshell, the Ending Spending super PAC approached Fred Davis, the guy responsible for the Demon Sheep ad and the “I’m not a witch” ad from the 2010 election cycle and asked him for a campaign ad proposal focused, Baker said, on Obama’s runaway spending.
Instead Davis delivered a proposal based on tying the president to Jeremiah Wright, among other things. According to Baker, Ending Spending received the ad proposal on Tuesday and immediately knew it was not what they wanted. When he was contacted by the New York Times on Wednesday, he claims, he tried to make it clear that they “were not going ahead” on the proposal which was not what they’d asked for at all. He said that there had been no approval, no preliminary approval and certainly no money changing hands for the now-infamous ad proposal.
So he was kinda gobsmacked when he read the New York Times article about the Jeremiah Wright campaign ads that the super PAC headed by Joe Ricketts was apparently this close to commissioning.
In Brian Baker’s version of events, Ending Spending approached Fred Davis, best known for viral, controversial campaign ads, and told him they liked his work. They asked him to come up with an ad campaign targerting Obama’s spending and instead got this horrible ad proposal that was all about attacking the president’s character and hanging his association with Jeremiah Wright around his neck. And then, horror of horrors, even after he “made it clear” to the New York Times that Ending Spending and Joe Ricketts wanted nothing to do with the proposed campaign (not, apparently, out of outrage but because they wanted to focus on spending not the president’s character flaws), the Times went ahead and published this story that implied that they had ASKED for ad ideas about Jeremiah Wright — on the front page!
The real story, apparently, is that the New York Times sensationalized a “nothing to see here” story – so like the liberal mainstream media, right? – and dared to suggest that the super PAC was considering the ad proposal from a guy that’s notorious for ads that are so outrageous they go viral within minutes. I mean, who would have thought that Fred Davis, who had submitted a similar proposal to the McCain campaign in 2008, would have come up with an ad featuring Jeremiah Wright?
And Baker was so indignant about the whole thing that he almost had me convinced. Then Dan Senor, who was sitting at the table with Mika, Joe and the gang, was asked what he’d thought when he first saw the story. His issue with it? Front page, above the fold — really? He was kinda sorta stunned that the New York Times was treating this like a you know, news story.
So, I guess the storyline is that the big, bad liberal media misrepresented something that was not news at all. And then, Mark Halperin — who started the segment by saying he didn’t think the Times should have run the story — asked Baker about a follow-up story in the Times that laid out the ticktock of the original story — yes, meta story story. The Times said they’d specifically asked if the ad proposal was dead or still under consideration. Halperin gave Baker a chance to reiterate that the Times knew, when they published the story, that it had already been rejected. Baker’s response?
Well, apparently Joe Ricketts had not yet seen the ad proposal and “no final decision has been made”. They were still considering it, in other words. So the New York Times was completely wrong in reporting that the report was still under consideration. Mean old New York Times reporting the news in a way the subject of the story doesn’t like again.