On Tuesday, I posted an article on NRO about how agendas affect political reporting. I recounted a four-year-old incident wherein Fox News’s Carl Cameron pretty much made up a story of my touring the Iowa state fair in a golf cart while I wore Gucci loafers.
At the time, when I heard about the report, I chuckled, called Carl a few unprintable names, and forgot about it. I did not realize that the story would achieve urban-legend status and become part of a narrative about me with the political reporter-commentator set.
The narrative surfaced again last week in an article written by Ed Kilgore in The New Republic entitled “The Fred Thompson Effect,” in which the Iowa-fair story was repeated, along with additional erroneous details.
Now irritated at the notion that this bull-oney was going to surface every four years as a political cautionary tale to Iowa vote-seekers, I decided to have a little fun and poke these guys who never seem to be called to account. So, I set the record straight, including the Gucci libel, since I’ve never owned, worn, or coveted a Gucci shoe in my life. Well, that settled that, right?
What I didn’t know was that on that same day, Michael Gerson took time away from his duties as the self-appointed conscience of the Republican party to make his own contribution to hack journalism. He wrote: “Last time around Fred Thompson arrived with a flourish — then appeared at the Iowa State Fair in Gucci loafers, riding a golf cart. Iowa Populism was duly offended and Thompson’s bubble burst within 48 hours.”
The point that these journalistic giants should consider is this: On top of the other embellishments already piled on what we now know was a journalistic fabrication, yet another writer is adding another falsehood — that the Iowa fair events which never really happened were responsible for seriously damaging a campaign. And they lazily repeat it over and over and over. Guess it beats working. Besides, there are never any consequences.
— Fred Thompson, who represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2003, is an actor, lawyer, and political commentator.
editor’s note: This article has been amended since its initial posting.