I’ve been trying to learn a bit more about last week’s Huffington Post’s story on Mike Huckabee, “Documents Expose Huckabee’s Role in Serial Rapist’s Release.” Reporter Murray Waas wrote that Huckabee had pushed for Wayne Dumond’s freedom “despite being warned by numerous women that the convict had sexually assaulted them or their family members.” Waas also wrote that he had obtained files showing that “Huckabee was provided letters from several women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond.”
The article provided a link that said “See Full Documents” and “Exclusive: The Complete Huckabee-Dumond Files.” But a look at those documents – three letters in all – shows that all three concern one incident: an alleged rape that took place on September 8, 1976. Two are from the victim, and one, apparently, is from the victim’s daughter. (It was dated the same day as the victim’s first letter.)
So what about the “numerous women” and “several women” as described in the story? I asked Thomas Edsall, who is the political editor at the Huffington Post, as well as a special correspondent for the New Republic, and the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He told me the Huffington Post has more evidence, which it has not made public:
The documents we obtained from Huckabee’s file include 12 letters from eight women, three of whom say explicitly that they were raped or sexually assaulted by Dumond. At least three of the other letters are from family members of those women. We have not placed all of our letters online.
The Huckabee campaign is a little baffled by all this. Why not make the evidence public if you’re going to go with the story? Adviser Charmaine Yoest told me Waas hinted that he was working on a big story (with ABC News, as it turned out). “He kept saying there were going to be all these women on television tomorrow,” Yoest told me today. “He was distinctly leaving us the impression that there were going to be these hordes of other rape victims turning up on television the next day.”
And then the story appeared on the Huffington Post, and the documents concerned only one woman. The next morning, ABC’s Brian Ross reported the story, holding up documents which he said were letters, obtained by the Huffington Post, “by at least two other women who also reported to him [Huckabee] that they were raped.” But he didn’t offer any details. So the campaign – and some observers – remain a little confused about it all.