BREAKING: AP Dragged Hook, Line and Sinker in GOP Fishing Tourney!

Here’s one of those things that drive me to distraction but I at least enjoy flagging to everyone’s attention when it’s so egregious. Mitch McConnell is now claiming Republicans have somehow been hoodwinked, double-crossed, done dirty by Democrats springing ‘linkage’ on them: Basically, that the White House and the Democratic caucus will support the bipartisan mini-infrastructure bill as long as they can put the rest of their plan in a reconciliation bill.

Then I noticed an AP reporter, apparently new to the White House beat, flagged a new AP story with this: “This is the catch for the WH on the infrastructure deal right now: Senators who were part of the bipartisan group were never told of such an explicit linking of the two packages, the two people familiar with the discussions said.”

The article itself, by Lisa Mascaro, manages to be even more credulous.

Livid and “blindsided” over President Joe Biden’s refusal to sign a bipartisan infrastructure deal without passage of his broader priorities, Republican senators Friday were frantically considering options as the future of the sweeping compromise appeared in doubt.

The pressing question here is why the Associated Press has insisted on keeping its reporters locked in sensory deprivation chambers for all of June. Linkage, as discussed above, has been an explicit condition for Democrats for a couple weeks and stated constantly and publicly. What’s more, linkage has nothing to do with Republicans. Lindsey Graham squealed, “no deal by extortion.” But Democrats aren’t asking for any Republican votes. So how is Lindsey being extorted? Linkage is all about Democrats participation in a reconciliation package. So who’s being extorted?

Indeed, as DC reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere reminded everyone, none other than Mitch McConnell, Roy Blunt, Portman, Cassidy and probably every other Republican has been explicitly discussing their assumption that this is a linked two track process for weeks. On June 15th, McConnell said, “we are anticipating at some point getting a reconciliation bill. I guess what we will find out soon is whether there’s an additional bipartisan effort to address the subject that a lot of us would like to address.”

Then there’s this tweet from three days ago …

But wait, there’s more from the AP!

Senators were described as “stunned,” “floored” and “frustrated” after Biden later put the conditions on accepting their deal, according to people familiar with the private conversations and granted anonymity to discuss them.

Indeed, if you read the DC insider daily newsletters, one of the big questions has been what the incentive was for the Republican moderates to agree to a deal. Normally you agree to a deal because you foreclose things you don’t want. If Republicans know the Democratic plan is to pass the rest of the agenda through reconciliation will that play well with their voters? Who knows? But again, they knew! How do we know? Because we were not locked into the AP DC Bureau’s sensory deprivation chamber.

We got a live one here. Or rather, Mitch McConnell does.

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