As a general matter, when you're wrong, it's good policy to admit it and move on. The American Prospect (TPM's old stomping grounds -- stomping pages?) seems to be having difficulty with this maxim at the moment.
The February 25th issue of the magazine had a cover featuring pictures of various politicians with the amount of cash they had received from Enron. Joe Lieberman was listed as having received $37,000.
Only he hadn't.
Lieberman received $2000 and the New Democrat Network received $35,000. (TPM said his piece about the NDN et al., part of it at least, here.)
The Prospect's rationale for including this extra thirty-five grand is apparently that the NDN was basically what pols call a "leadership PAC." Essentially another one of Lieberman's coffers, used for his purposes.
Lieberman's communications director, Dan Gerstein, seems to have written in to complain. And here's how the Prospect responded.
As noted, we included money given directly to Lieberman's own campaign committee ($2,000) plus the $35,000 in Enron money given to the New Democrat Network's soft- and hard-money PAC, which Lieberman co-founded in 1996. On NDN's Web site, www.newdem.org/leaders/, a posting dated February 2, 2002, heralds Lieberman as a current leader of the PAC. Enron, expert in filling the many pockets of a politician's coat, found this open flap.
This is either shamelessly dishonest or pitifully ill-informed, though perhaps it's a tour de force combination of both. (The writing style of the last sentence tells the tale. But that's another matter.)
The argument here is that this is Lieberman's organization. He is a "current leader" after all, right? So it makes sense to count it as his money. But when you go to the site and look at the page in question you see that there are a total of ten politicians listed as "current leaders." In others words, Lieberman is just on the organization's advisory panel or board. It's not his organization.
By the Prospect's reasoning, each of these folks got thirty-five grand. (Interestingly enough, one of them is Congresswoman Jane Harman, which tells another tale.) A grand total of $350,000 for the NDN from Enron! What a haul!
The current issue of the Prospect has a special section on Enron economics -- presumably this means over-clever, deceptively structured financial calculations.
Apparently the malady is contagious.