Harry Reid Aides Mock Mafia Conspiracy Theory Over Injuries

AP
Views

WASHINGTON — First it was conservative bloggers at Powerline and PJ Media. Then Rush Limbaugh picked it up. Then a Breitbart News investigation uncovered “facts” that purported to debunk the official story of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) eye injury.

Such is the genesis of one of the more bizarre conspiracy theories that has recently caught fire in the conservative media ecosystem. Reid’s gruesome exercising accident in late December — which left him with visible bruises on his face and a rotating series of patches and sunglasses to cover his badly injured right eye — was no accident, the theory goes. No, he must’ve been beaten up by the Las Vegas mobsters he’s ostensibly in league with.

The injuries were sustained in late December while Reid was exercising at his home in Henderson, Nevada, after an elastic band snapped and caused him to fall and break several ribs and bones in his face, according to the senator and his office.

Breitbart’s “investigation” published Tuesday became an instant social media sensation, earning savage mockery from reporters — and Reid’s own staff — for its speculative assessment which lacked evidence for its far-reaching theory.

“The main problem with the mobster theory is that it completely overlooks the critical role played by the Yeti,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said in an email.

He added on Twitter:

His senior adviser Faiz Shakir also chimed in.

The Breitbart story came after John Hinderaker wrote at Powerline that a “friend” in Las Vegas “talked to a number of people there” about Reid’s injuries and that the “common assumption was that the incident resulted, in some fashion, from Reid’s relationship with organized crime. The principal rumor my friend heard was that Reid had promised to obtain some benefit for a group of mobsters.”

Limbaugh, who commands a radio audience of millions, asked on his show Friday, “Does anybody believe that Harry Reid really had an accident with his exercise machine?”

“I don’t believe for a minute that whatever happened to Harry Reid has anything to do with an exercise machine unless somebody repeatedly threw him into it,” he said. “Harry Reid looks like and is acting like — and now with this announcement, behaving like — somebody who may have been beaten up. Nobody … I’ve never seen anybody have an accident with an exercise machine that ends up suffering symptoms much like Harry Reid’s for as long as Harry Reid has.”

The accident cost Reid the vision in his right eye at least temporarily, and doctors don’t know if he’ll get it back.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK