Thu 13 Jul 2006
Pho has written an article about my interview with Sherrod Brown and its aftermath. Surprisingly he has no comment on what Sherrod Brown actually had to say. He wants to talk about me. Well, I guess I must be a star. Obviously so, since I’m more important than a sitting Ohio Congressman running for Senator.
LOL… this does make me wonder why I bothered spending all my free time for four days transcribing the thing. I should have just sold commemorative plates and been done with it.
Pho’s major criticism of my interview:
Pho the citizen journalist thinks Chris could have asked some harder questions about the sharp dealing in the primary.
I debated long and hard about that one. There was part of me that wanted to drill him on questions that I’d already heard the answer to many times just to see if I could discover more. In the end I chose not to for two reasons:
1) I’ve heard him answer the same way on multiple occasions so I knew that he wouldn’t do anything but answer the same way again. He’s way to smart a politician to get caught up that way.
2) I didn’t want this to be a “blogger” interview. The drama of the primary was almost entirely focused on the blogs. No one outside of our little tired circle knows or cares about IP addresses, or anonymous posts, or ODP Christmas Events. My obsessing about it instead of Iraq and Health Care and Mike DeWine would just lower the quality of the interview. Sure, it might have gotten him madder then when I asked him about the stupid bus (I did notice a flash of anger, but maybe I was just seeing something), but I really wasn’t looking for a 60 minutes moment where he storms out of the room with me trailing behind him with my little mp3 recorder. The fact that ALL of the “sharp dealing” issues were based upon hearsay made me doubly doubt the benefit of asking him.
I really really don’t like delving into the gossipy backwash of politics. One thing I’ve noticed about campaigns is that for everyone involved that is ALL they want to talk about. They are insiders and they love the back and forth. The atmosphere in primaries, where everything is in family, is incredibly toxic, especially when you’ve got two dynamically… what’s a nice way to put this?… headstrong people like Sherrod Brown and Paul Hackett.
Do people want to relive that? Do people want to obsess about it? Part of me does… but that’s the petty Wonkette fan in me. I’ve done everything I can not to be like that. Blogs obsess about blogs. My blog is not about blogs. It’s about the people living their lives in the 2nd district and how Congress impacts them and how they impact Congress.
The Whisper Campaign
There was one area that was more than the blogs, and that was the whisper campaign that Paul broke after he resigned. I researched that story like hell. I’ve talked to people on the record and off the record. NOTHING that anyone told me tied it back directly to Sherrod. He’d said that he’d heard about it, and that he told his people he was against it. Honestly, that rumor and many many others meant to damage both sides were swirling all over the inner circles of the Ohio Democratic Party. So much so that they were reaching Washington. In the end I heard one name on the Brown campaign over and over again. I’d heard that he had a track record for this sort of thing.
While I was interviewing Sherrod Brown I had one question written in my notebook. All through the interview I debated asking him. I was waiting for the right moment. I was worried that if I asked it it would blow the mood of the interview. Here’s the question: Was Dan Lucas fired?
In the end I never got to the point where I felt like asking it. I was feeling good about where we were going. I liked the interview. I felt like that sort of insider gossip would have just detracted.
I didn’t really know what Lucas’ role was in spreading the rumor. Did he start it? Did he hear it and in casual conversation talk about it, just the way people talk about every other candidate that they don’t like, ESPECIALLY when it’s a primary? I’ve already heard what Sherrod Brown had to say about the situation. If I wanted to even try to get an answer to those questions I needed to talk to Dan Lucas.
As one Democratic insider who is no fan of Sherrod Brown told me many months ago: Lucas is out. It’s over. Hackett needs to move on.
And so I left it at that. I’ll never really know all the insider drama of the Senate primary. To be honest with you, I already know way too much from both sides. When I talk to Sherrod and Paul I really like them both. They both seem like amazing people to me. On opposite sides of the spectrum in so many ways, reflecting the divide between Southern and Northern Ohio, they still come off to me as good people. Should I trust my gut and personal interaction with them both, or should I trust the gossips?
I went with my gut.
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