Since Kevin McCarthy suddenly quit the race for speaker, the false rumor that McCarthy has been having an affair with Congresswoman Renee Ellmers resurfaced thanks to the same blogger who first brought the falsehood to the internet back in January. He didn’t invent the rumor, it had been floating around in the sewers of the beltway for a while. This person simply dived into the sewage and pulled it out. Earlier this week he pulled it out of the sludge and posted it again. Note in this post that blogger will remain nameless and link-less because he deserves no credit for promoting this baseless rumor and promoting (he was sent a cease and desist letter from Ms. Ellmers’ lawyers).
Sadly since the McCarthy withdrawal the rumor has been discussed by writers/reporters who I had great respect for before yesterday and a little less respect today. The real issue is not only do both parties deny it, but nobody has been able to come up with one iota, one shred of evidence.
Sure there are rumors of a video of a dinner they had, but no one’s posted it. And everyone who claims it’s true, heard it from someone, who told them that someone who works in the House told them that their brother-in-law told them…etc. etc. Reporters are supposed to rely on facts, in this case there are no facts!! The technical term for this kind of reporting is garbage.
It got worse the rumors which sprung from the lips, keyboards and and pens of so many supposed reporters since McCarthy pulled out of the race changed last night. All of a sudden because the supposed affair has gone public the two Republicans were going to resign from congress this morning, and when that didn’t happen the rumored resign date was moved to Monday–it was almost like the guy who kept claiming the world was going to end and when he woke up the day after the supposed apocalypse came up with a new date. Most of you didn’t believe the nut job who said the world wasn’t going to end, and shouldn’t believe the faux reporters talking about an affair.
Rep. Ellmers spoke the House GOP caucus on Friday morning, as reported in US News and World Report:
Rep. Renee Ellmers stood up to speak in an open-microphone portion of the meeting being held the morning after McCarthy shocked the House by taking his name out of contention to become the next speaker.
She thanked fellow lawmakers for their support and prayers and said she was sorry they had received the emails. She described the messages as “batshit crazy.” She said it was daunting to be a woman in Washington but that she was a “tough cookie” and could handle it.
The two Republicans who described Ellmers’ comments spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the private discussion.
In a statement later, Ellmers said: “As someone who has been targeted by completely false accusations and innuendo, I have been moved by the outpouring of support and prayers from my colleagues, constituents and friends. Now I will be praying for those who find it acceptable to bear false witness.”
McCarthy denied earlier this week that his decision to withdraw from the speaker’s race was related to a letter from one backbench lawmaker demanding that any candidate with embarrassing misdeeds in his past should withdraw.
In recent days, several lawmakers have reported receiving emails about the allegations, apparently from a right-wing activist known for spamming Republicans.
Roll Call reports that “Party officials do have some concern that Renee has been unfairly maligned and that there is a bunch of absolute rumor-mongering,” a GOP source told CQ Roll Call Friday.
Folks this writing/blogging/reporting business carries with it awesome responsibility. One story can ruin someone’s career. I did it with Helen Thomas and the anti-Semitic video. But I had proof. Every time a good reporter has an important story the not only have to have proof but they have to have corroboration of that proof.
Its one thing to call people a RINO, or a leftist etc., but calling someone an adulterer or even reporting the rumor as something other than nonsense without proof is a dereliction of our responsibilities to our readers.
And in this case it’s more than careers that can be ruined, Renee Elmers is married and has a kid, Kevin McCarthy is married with kids, these untrue reports can drive a wedge between spouses.
How do I know they are untrue? First of all there is no evidence. In the nine-months since that blogger started the rumor nothing has been turned up…nothing. Second of all the blogger in question has a reputation of being like the National Enquirer in the bad old days.
It is very easy to start a rumor about an affair, but it is almost impossible to prove it untrue, even worse it is hard to get ones reputation back.
There is an old Chasidic tale about Loshen Hara (a Hebrew term meaning evil tongue) which reminds me of the people who give credence to these rumors by adding it to their reports.
A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds.” The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, “Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers.”
Those who report on supposed affairs without facts will never be able to totally undo the damage they’ve done.