The latest bizarre dispatch from Truthout editor Marc Ash purports to respond to freelance journalist Joe Lauria’s charges that Jason Leopold impersonated him in order to get Rove spokesman Mark Corallo on the phone:
The basis for Lauria’s complaint is that Jason Leopold reportedly used Lauria’s name to get Karl Rove’s spokesman Mark Corallo on the phone … according to, you guessed it, Corallo. For the record, I think Mark Corallo is doing a brilliant job of representing Karl Rove’s best interests as his interface with the media. I also think it’s fair to say that The Washington Post is being way too cooperative – unless they, too, are beholden to Mr. Rove? Everybody hold your breaths waiting for a response from the Post’s ombudsman on that one.
For the record, since the entire basis for Lauria’s story is a poorly defined, and factually uncorroborated version of events promulgated by Karl Rove’s public relations contractor, I think Lauria’s getting a free ride to notoriety from the Post. Apparently Lauria recognized that there was a hot market for hit pieces on Jason Leopold and TO. The Washington Post was buying, and Lauria was all to happy to cash in.
We urge The Post and Lauria to meet the same standard that we have been held to these past weeks – account for your statements, please.
In case you missed it, Ash does not deny Lauria’s charges. He shifts the burden of proof to Lauria. In this case, Lauria’s proof is the word of Mark Corallo, which according to Ash isn’t good enough. That’s convenient, given there is no other way to prove that Leopold impersonated Lauria when he called Corallo. But read Lauria’s account again:
Merritt had called Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department spokesman who is now privately employed by Rove. She reported that Corallo said he had “never spoken with someone identifying himself as ‘Jason Leopold.’ He did have conversations Saturday and Sunday . . . but the caller identified himself as Joel something or other from the Londay [sic] Sunday Times. . . . At one point . . . he offered to call Joel back, and was given a cell phone number that began with 917. When he called the number back, it turned out not to be a number for Joel.”
A chill went down my back. I freelance for the Sunday Times. My first name is often mistaken for Joel. My cellphone number starts with area code 917.
I called Corallo. He confirmed that my name was the one the caller had used. Moreover, the return number the caller had given him was off from mine by one digit. Corallo had never been able to reach me to find out it wasn’t I who had called. He said he knew who Leopold was but had never talked to him.
Ash calls this a “hit piece,” but instead of publicly denying that it’s true, he demands that Lauria provide proof in addition to Corallo’s word — knowing full well there isn’t any. Ash accuses Corallo of lying without providing any proof of his own. Perhaps Ash knows that Lauria’s and Corallo’s version of events sounds much more plausible than his version, in which Corallo makes up a story about Leopold impersonating Lauria. As Lauria points out in his piece, Leopold is the one with the history of lying.
I’ll be sad when this is all over. These “reports” are entertaining as hell. Maybe Truthout has a future as the Weekly World News of the blogosphere.