A media skirmish is currently taking place on the Interwebs about this piece, published today by the New York Times: “Marco Rubio and His Wife Cited 17 Times for Traffic Infractions.” Via the Times:
According to a search of the Miami-Dade and Duval County court dockets, the Rubios have been cited for numerous infractions over the years for incidents that included speeding, driving through red lights and careless driving. A review of records dating back to 1997 shows that the couple had a combined 17 citations: Mr. Rubio with four and his wife with 13. On four separate occasions they agreed to attend remedial driving school after a violation.
We’ll get to the piece itself momentarily. First, the controversy: It appears, per the Washington Free Beacon, that the New York Times was fed the story by American Bridge — a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC founded by Clinton proxy David Brock:
The New York Times Friday report that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and his wife Jeanette have been cited 17 times for traffic violations was written after the citations were pulled by liberal opposition research firm American Bridge, according to Miami-Dade County court records.
Records show that each of the citations mentioned by the New York Times were pulled in person by American Bridge operatives on May 26, 2015.
News outlets being fed stories by opposition-research groups is nothing new. But despite the evidence, the New York Times is denying that American Bridge was its source. Per Politico’s Dylan Byers:
In an email to [Politico’s] On Media blog on Friday, Times Washington bureau chief Carolyn Ryan denied that the information came from an outside source.
The Times says that it worked with a “document retrieval service in Florida” (thus far unnamed) to obtain Rubio’s records, but neither the Times reporters involved in the story nor any group besides American Bridge appears on the docket records from Miami-Dade County obtained by the Free Beacon.
But even if the Times has a perfectly reasonable explanation, is it so much better that America’s paper of record has three reporters poring over Marco Rubio’s traffic records?
And note that headline: Marco Rubio “and his wife” — why? Because Rubio himself has had only four citations since 1997 — or a violation every four-and-a-half years. That’s not exactly newsworthy. So the Times threw in his wife’s violations to make the number headline-worthy. As Mollie Hemingway quips at The Federalist, “This would be like claiming that Hillary Clinton and her husband had sexually assaulted numerous women.”
Furthermore, as a political point, are Rubio’s handful of traffic violations much of a hit? A question for the Average Voter: Do you relate more to the candidate with four traffic violations over the last two decades, or the candidate who has not driven a car over the last two decades?
Marco Rubio does not look worse as a result of this story. He looks, you know, normal. It’s the Times that looks bad — petty, for expending so much effort on so minor a story, and, for expending so much energy unnecessarily concealing the source of the story, deceitful.