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As you know, earlier today Hillary Clinton tried to stoke the Jeremiah Wright controversy by telling an editorial board meeting in Pittsburgh that Jeremiah Wright “would not have been my pastor” and then going on to note that she had denounced Don Imus in contrast to Obama’s allegedly more tolerant attitude toward hate speech.

Later in the afternoon she repeated the same comments at a press conference and when asked why she had chosen to engage Obama on the Wright controversy she seemed to suggest that rather than being intentional she was only providing an answer to a direct question. “Well I answered a question in an ed board today that was very specific about what I would have done,” Clinton told the reporter, “And you know I’m just speaking for myself, and i was answering a question that was posed to me.”

Now obviously, Hillary’s been in the political big leagues for a while. She knows how to deflect a question. But it’s actually much richer than this. This afternoon Greg Sargent and I were talking this over and one of us realized that this wasn’t just any Pittsburgh paper. It was the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the money-losing, vanity, fringe sheet of Richard Mellon Scaife, funder of the Arkansas Project, the American Spectator during its prime Clinton-hunting years and virtually every right-wing operation of note at one point or another over the last twenty years or more.

In fact, what I only discovered late this evening, when Eric Kleefeld sent me this link at National Review Online, is that not only was it Scaife’s paper. Scaife himself was there sitting just to Clinton’s right apparently taking part in the questioning.

This alone has to amount to some sort cosmic encounter like something out of a Wagner opera. Remember, this is the guy who spent millions of dollars puffing up wingnut fantasies about Hillary’s having Vince Foster whacked and lots of other curdled and ugly nonsense. Scaife was the nerve center of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Those of us who spent years defending the Clintons from all that malarkey learned this point on day one.

But there’s more.

Let’s game this out. Hillary’s saying this wasn’t some planned thing. She just got hit with this question and she answered it. But here’s my question. You think Richard Mellon Scaife might want to dig into the Jeremiah Wright story? This is sort of like, ‘Hey, I go on Hannity and next thing you know he’s asking me about Wright and Farrakhan. How was I supposed to see that coming?’

I don’t know just how this went down. But the idea Sen. Clinton and her staff went into an editorial board meeting with Scaife and his lackey reporters without a clear sense that they were going to get at least one choice Jeremiah Wright question just somehow doesn’t ring true to me.

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