NY-23 GOP Campaign And Weekly Standard Feud: Read The E-mails

October 20, 2009 10:50 a.m.

The feud is heating up between the Weekly Standard and the Dede Scozzafava campaign — the moderate Republican running in the three-way NY-23 special election — with Scozzafava spokesman Matt Burns now forwarding to TPM e-mails between himself and the Standard, in a challenge to the magazine’s journalistic objectivity.

The latest battle between the two camps involved the Scozzafava campaign calling the police against Standard reporter John McCormack, for following around their candidate and repeatedly asking her questions in a manner that they said showed “a complete lack of decency.” Bill Kristol then characterized Scozzafava spokesman Matt Burns as the malevolent character, for having called their offices on Friday and yelled at them over a story. Now, Burns has sent us e-mails connected with that dust-up from last week.

“Last week, John wrote a story that falsely asserted Dede was something other than a life-long Republican,” Burns wrote me. “He took that leap based upon the exchange below. How any objective reporter would take such a leap, I’ll let you report and readers decide.”

McCormack confirmed the authenticity of the e-mails to me. “I have no problem posting that e-mail exchange,” McCormack said. “But it’s a sign of a truly desperate campaign when they’re forwarding e-mails to left-wing blogs, instead of talking about their own agenda, and unwilling to answer questions about where she stands on the issues.”Here’s the e-mail exchange:

McCormack, Thursday, October 15, 10:39 p.m.:

Hi Matt,

Two questions:

Will Assemblywoman Scozzafava pledge to run in 2010 in the Republican primary if there is a primary?

Does she pledge to vote for the Republican Leader, Rep. Boehner, as speaker of the House in 2011 if she wins?

Burns, Thursday, October 15, 10:54 p.m.:

1) Dede is focused on the election that is Nov. 3.

2) Dede has been clear: she supports making Rep. Boehner Speaker of the House.

McCormack, Thursday, October 15, 10:59 p.m.:

Thanks. Regarding the second question, just to be 100% clear, could you say whether she would vote to make the Republican Leader Speaker in 2011 and 2013 if she’s elected?

Burns, Thursday, October 15, 11:04 p.m.:

I don’t understand you’re question…we haven’t even gotten through this election and you’re asking about four years from now? She supports making Leader Boehner the Speaker. Period.

McCormack, Thursday, October 15, 11:09 p.m.:

Okay, I’ll try to explain: you wrote that she “supports” making him Speaker. That means she currently supports making him speaker. Does she pledge to vote for him to be Speaker of the House in 2011? I’m not trying to be cute. Just want to make sure you’re not saying, in effect, well now she supports making him speaker but she could change in 12 months.

Burns, Thursday, October 15, 11:27 p.m.:

She is a vote for Rep. Boehner.

Btw, will you be working at the Weekly Standard in 2011? 2013? How about 2015?

McCormack, Thursday, October 15, 11:30 p.m.:

Why can’t you use the future tense? Can you say the following?

“She will vote for Rep. Boehner in 2011.”

Again, I’m not trying to be cute. I just want to get this right.

To answer your question about my working at TWS: I might; I might not. Is that what you’re trying to say about her commitment to vote for Boehner in 2011? Maybe she will? Maybe she won’t?

Burns, Thursday, October 15, 11:35 p.m.:

John – With all due respect, stop being ridiculous. She is a vote for Rep. Boehner. Period. I can say it six different ways, but that apparently won’t appease you. I’m done trying.

McCormack also stood by the accuracy of his post from last week, which implied that Scozzafava might switch parties in the future, on the grounds that Burns failed to clearly answer his question.

“I gave him three opportunities to say in 2011 she would vote for Rep. Boehner, because [Conservative Party nominee] Doug Hoffman has said he will run in the 2010 Republican primary, and he would likely beat Dede Scozzafava in the very unlikely event she wins this election,” said McCormack. “So what does she do then? Does she go caucus with the Democrats? So he repeatedly said she ‘is’ a vote for Boehner, she ‘supports’ Boehner. I gave Matt Burns, I don’t know how many times it was, you can count it, two or three or four times to state simply whether or not she would vote for Boehner in 2011.”

McCormack also pointed out that he did update his post after Burns called the Standard and gave a full assurance that Scozzafava would support Boehner in the future, a statement from Burns that McCormack says “he made on Friday, but would not make the day before.”

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