It started on April 8th when Mother Jones published a secret recording of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell discussing opposition research on Ashley Judd.
On February 2, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US
Senate, opened up his 2014 reelection campaign headquarters in
Louisville, Kentucky, and in front of several dozen supporters vowed to
“point out” the weaknesses of any opponent fielded by the Democrats.
“They want to fight? We’re ready,” he declared. McConnell was serious:
Later that day, he was huddling with aides in a private meeting to
discuss how to attack his possible Democratic foes, including
actor/activist Ashley Judd, who was then contemplating challenging the
minority leader. During this strategy session—a recording of which was
obtained by Mother Jones—McConnell and his aides considered assaulting
Judd for her past struggles with depression and for her religious views.
There is nothing wrong with “secret camera” journalism such as what
is done by Project Veratas and others like them. This however was over the line
extreme….secretly taping a campaign meeting through a closed door of the Mich McConnell reelection campaign office.
Today, nearly two months after the story broke, we heard the details of how the illegal taping was conducted (along with tons of narcissistic weak excuses) as Curtis Morrison the perpetrator of the crime tried to justify himself in a piece he wrote for Salon.
But also up for debate was the the ethics of the audio recording itself. Here’s the latest: An assistant U.S. attorney, Bryan Calhoun, telephoned my attorney yesterday, asking to meet with him next Friday as charges against me are being presented to a grand jury.
In a technology age marked by vigilante heroes like Julian Assange and Anonymous, the line between journalism and espionage has grown thin. McConnell was quick to frame himself as the victim of a crime, which was to be expected. It was the guilty repositioning of a politician who has been caught being craven.
Morrison is wrong as according to the law McConnell is the victim of at least one crime:
Divulging information obtained through illegal eavesdropping is a
separate crime, punishable as a misdemeanor. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann.
He goes on in an attempt to elicit the sympathy of the reader with some self-dramatizing:
In the days that following the audio leak, I lost my friendship with Shawn. I lost my apartment. I lost my job and my career path.
Unlike Mitch McConnell, I will not paint myself as a victim. I’ve learned a lot in these weeks. But nothing stung like hearing Yarmuth brush me aside like that. I was so upset that all I could do is go for a long run. Frankly, I had a good cry. And as I pounded away the stress and frustration of that moment, I had to wonder: Did I make a mistake?
The answer to that question is “It depends,” is breaking the law and making oneself a pariah even to other liberal progressives…a mistake? Morrison Doesn’t think so.
After a little more self-indulgence Curtis Morrison goes on to incriminate himself with his tale of the secret taping. Starting with the premeditation:
The meeting was on Groundhog Day, a holiday that would seem to have great ironic meaning for the American political system, and it was freezing cold that morning. I skipped my shower, threw on sweats, enjoyed hot coffee while I checked my email. Typical Saturday on my Mac. In the course of a few minutes, a few hours had passed. I didn’t want to go outside — I didn’t want to go anywhere — but I remember thinking if McConnell’s launch was so close to my home and I spent the day hibernating, then I suck at both journalism and activism. And since I don’t have aptitude or passion for much else, that would be problematic for my self-esteem. So I put on my coat and shoes, grabbed my Flip camera, and headed out the door.
At the last minute, I recruited my neighbor, Shawn Reilly, to come with me. Shawn had a phone with access to Twitter, which I thought might provide clues on the meeting’s exact location, and my smart phone had not survived a fall from atop the roof of my moving Jeep.
So we drove to Bishop Lane and scoured the parking lots for McConnell’s black Suburban or any BMWs with “Friend of Coal” license plates. No luck. Twitter was no use either. But that’s when my phone rang.
On the other line was the source who first let me know about the HQ opening. He told me I had missed the launch, pronouncing the donuts cheap and stale and the coffee cold, but the meeting was still going. And he told me the location of the headquarters: the second floor of a building named Watterson Towers.
The front door to the office building was unlocked, and there was no one behind the reception desk. Walking down the hall of the second floor, I recognized McConnell’s voice. He was talking about Sen. Rand Paul’s strategic use of the Tea Party in procuring his 2010 election.
The voices were coming from the other side of a nearby door, which had a window. I pulled out my Flip camera and started to record.
….You just never knew when a politician was going to open his mouth and accidentally reveal his true agenda. And as I held my Flip up to the window, that’s what I was hoping for, but I soon realized that the video I was capturing was the back of a projection screen, and only the audio was of value. So I held the Flip closer to the door vent instead of the window, and began recording the 11:45 minutes of footage later released by Mother Jones.
I was sweating. My heart was racing. I tried to record backup audio on my phone, but my cheap replacement phone would only let me record voice memos of one minute in length. Every time the minute was up, the phone would beep, which was excruciating for the person crouching by a door vent. When a gentleman walked out of the campaign headquarters and into the hall, I put my Flip and phone back in my pocket, and headed to the elevator.
Shawn was already there. We made our escape.
Morrison goes on to explain how in the aftermath his life slowly fell apart, how he lost his activist friends, lived in his car, and eventually moved to California, but it’s all OK because he still feels he did the right thing and everything was done in the name of “happiness flowers and unicorns.”
But in reality it wasn’t, this story reads like a Shakespearean tragedy with Morrison’s pride and self-absorption leading him down the path of ruin. After illegally taping a private campaign meeting he was asked his friends not to release the tape to the press–he ignored them and destroyed his friendships. At first no one knew who/and how the tapes were made but Morrison bragged about the crime and he was found out. And now he feels the need to write about it, admitting that he went to the headquarters to grab dirt on McConnell and his description of how the recording was made will make prosecutors very, very happy.
The proverb says pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall that proverb was never proven more true than in the case of Curtis Morrison and the secret recording of Mitch McConnell