February 19, 2015 9:31 p.m.

Did The Daily Caller make up this a phony quote?

I’ve generally ignored this Marie Harf sub-drama. How much of a glutton for punishment do I need to be? From a distance it sounded like a clumsy expression of a fairly straightforward point, which is that endemic poverty, social stagnation and repression are often breeding grounds of extremism and terrorist violence. To hear versions of this argument you need look no further than the well-known liberals in the Bush administration who frequently made the argument that poverty, corruption and lack of democracy were the breeding ground of terrorist recruitment in the Muslim world – those dreaded ‘root causes.’

So tonight I found my way to an article in the Daily Caller with a follow up outrage by Harf (now it’s her undergraduate thesis) reported by Patrick Howley. And in that piece he quotes the part of her exchange with Chris Matthews in which she said, “We need to get to the root cause of terrorism, and that is poverty and lack of opportunity in the terrorist community.”

Now Howley is notorious for various botched stories and erratic behavior. But when I read that quote I thought, ‘Good Lord, that’s quite a bit worse than I thought.’ In the ‘terrorist community’? So even within the existing terrorist community, which does exist in some sense, though it would seem rather fragmented, a stimulus program of some sort might fix things up?

I was about to write a piece lamenting the unforced derp manufactured when seemingly sensible people make utterly clownish versions of at least reasonable arguments.

So I googled that sentence to find more about what she actually said.

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That brought up Howley’s piece, a Rush Limbaugh commentary and a bunch of other links. But all from conservative sites. That made me wonder. So I cranked up our Nexis account to look for the actual transcript. I read it word for word; I string searched it. No dice. The quote does not exist in the actual transcript.

You can also just look at the video. The quote doesn’t exist …

By that point I was starting to think Howley had simply made up the quote.

Now maybe I’m missing something and she said this somewhere else. But all the other parts of the quote I’ve seen are there at the top of the Monday evening episode of Hardball. If you know where there’s an authentic attribution of this quote, let me know: I’ll post it.

From piecing it all together, looking at the dates of each of the Google hits, Howley’s phony quote seems to start with Limbaugh. But in fairness to Rush, he could say he was just paraphrasing. Then The Daily Caller/Howley and various other sites picked it up and ran it as it as actual quote because the Rush Limbaugh monologue transcript is a reliable source.

In any case, is there any reason to think this isn’t either a fraudulent quote from Howley and others or at best a comically sloppy attempt at journalism?

No, that’s not a rhetorical question.

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