Ted Cruz Book: Politico Reporter Manu Raju Is Like ‘Mitch McConnell’s Press Secretary’

In his new book, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) goes right at the heart of the Washington beast: The establishment’s messaging operation in the mainstream media.

Cruz exposes how certain members of the Washington establishment from both political parties use the mainstream media as a messaging tool in narrative creation to achieve their agenda. What the mainstream media reports is often not inaccurate, but designed in a way to further the agenda of the establishment in Washington—and undermine conservatives in the process.

An excerpt from the introduction of Cruz’s book, A Time For Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America, shows that Cruz went after Manu Raju from Politico—a reporter who often pushes a narrative that GOP leadership in Washington likes. Raju is hardly the only such reporter who pushes the establishment line from the pages of Politico—Jake Sherman is another one, but he tends to operate more on the House side of things pushing whatever Speaker John Boehner wants to talk about on any given day—but he’s the one who has personally printed countless articles in which anonymous sources in Washington attack Cruz and conservatives on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s behalf.

The particular excerpt in question here, from the introduction of Cruz’s book, focuses on various tactics GOP leadership in Congress uses as “punishment” against Republican members who vote and speak their conscience, on behalf of their constituents. Cruz laid out how one “method of punishment” that “GOP elites” frequently use to attack conservatives like himself is “public flogging.”

“Anonymous quotes appear in Capitol Hill publications from unnamed Republican sources—they’re usually Republican leadership staff members—wielding nasty personal insults,” Cruz writes in the book, providing several examples of such quotes.

“[Democratic candidate for governor of Texas] Wendy Davis has more balls than Ted Cruz,” one reads.

Another: “Ted Cruz came here to throw bombs and fund-raise off of attacks on fellow Republicans. He’s a joke, plain and simple.”

More: “He’s an amateur.” “A fraud.” “A hypocrite.” “A wacko bird.” “Jim DeMint without the charm.”

“All of those things were said by Republicans. And most of them were attributed to anonymous ‘senior GOP aides,’” Cruz writes, before exposing the actual process by which leadership uses publications like Politico and the Wall Street Journal to attempt to neutralize conservatism. In this paragraph, without putting his name but identifying him by citing one such article filled with Cruz scorn that makes it positively clear who he’s talking about, Cruz points to Politico’s Raju—and calls him “Mitch McConnell’s press secretary.” Cruz writes:

The Republican leadership’s attacks are amplified and made more effective by using friendly media outlets. When leadership is displeased, they place hit pieces with journalists only too happy to cooperate. Indeed, so much so that one particular Politico reporter often seems like he is Mitch McConnell’s press secretary; nearly every attack from leadership gets echoed and amplified in his stories. As this reporter noted after one Senate lunch (apparently without irony): ‘The closed‐door [Senate lunches] are supposed to be private . . . so senators interviewed for this article asked not to be named.’

Mike Zapler, Raju’s editor and Politico’s senior congressional editor, defended Raju, arguing his content is accurate.

“We’re proud of Manu’s reporting and believe there’s no one better at ferreting out information on the Senate,” Zapler said in his email. “We’d also point out that Senator Cruz writes in his book about the same closed-door spats that Manu detailed in real time, so their accuracy apparently is not in dispute.”

But Zapler’s comment doesn’t get to the heart of the matter: Nobody’s questioning the accuracy of what Raju is writing, or that he’s indeed talking to the people that he’s quoting. It’s certainly not a Brian Williams or Stephen Glass or Jayson Blair situation where Raju is getting nailed for fabricating information and quotes and interviews. What Cruz is criticizing him—and others—for is for blindly buying into the narrative offered by establishment Republicans, willingly printing whatever he’s told to, and not questioning what he’s given. Instead, in actuality, what Cruz is doing is proving that Raju is not in fact a journalist—but a willing tool of the Washington establishment who’s either not talented enough to really find a good story or too lazy to question what he’s spoon fed.

The article from Raju that Cruz cited in that book passage comes from 2013, in the middle of Cruz’s efforts to lead a charge to defund Obamacare. Raju wrote back then:

Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it. At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, Republican after Republican pressed Cruz to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse with Democrats, according to senators who attended the meeting. A defensive Cruz had no clear plan to force an end to the shutdown — or explain how he would defund Obamacare, as he has demanded all along, sources said.

Raju quoted not a single establishment Republican who supposedly had a “barrage of hostile questions” for Cruz—meaning not one brave soul would go on record saying anything bad about him.

But Raju was able to get an anonymous “Republican Senator” to talk to him about the Cruz meeting.

“He kept trying to change the subject because he never could answer the question,” the anonymous senator not brave enough to put his or her name on their quote about Cruz told Raju. “It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy – it’s been about him. That’s unfortunate. I think he’s done our country a major disservice. I think he’s done Republicans a major disservice.”

It’s no secret that during that battle, then- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell aimed to undercut Cruz. In fact, McConnell—who was facing a primary from conservative Matt Bevin, who eventually lost the primary against McConnell but has since gone on to win the GOP nomination for the governor’s race in Kentucky that year—attacked Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) by name on a donor conference call hosted by Karl Rove’s American Crossroads.

“McConnell said the Tea Party was ‘nothing but a bunch of bullies,’” a GOP donor who was on the call, which happened around the time of Raju’s article that Cruz cites in his new book, told Breitbart News at the time. “And he said ‘you know how you deal with schoolyard bullies? You punch them in the nose and that’s what we’re going to do.’”

Not unlike the way Rove inaccurately claimed this weekend that a 2009 exchange Cruz had with Rove about a George H.W. Bush endorsement for Cruz’s Texas Attorney General bid wasn’t how it went down, Rove’s operatives accidentally proved that everything Breitbart News reported about that 2013 donor call was in fact accurate… while attempting to disprove it.

Audio recording of the call—Rove’s team actually admitted they audio-record all their donor calls—proves that what Breitbart News reported, and what the donor who was on the call told Breitbart News, was accurate. Rove’s team went to then-Washington Examiner reporter Charlie Spiering—who’s now Breitbart News’ White House correspondent—with the audio, which proved Breitbart News’ story correct, though they did claim they weren’t talking about the entire movement or Cruz or Lee but just the Senate Conservatives Fund organization. That being said, in response to Spiering’s story, several leaders of the Tea Party movement such as Tea Party Patriots’ Jenny Beth Martin, then Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer were appalled at McConnell’s comments about wanting to punch conservatives in the nose.

In Cruz’s new book, he exposes an instance in 2009 while running for Attorney General of Texas in which George H.W. Bush—the elder former President Bush, or Bush 41—met with him, cut his campaign a check for a thousand dollars and planned to publicly endorse him. After that, Cruz writes in the book, Rove called him saying donors he was soliciting to put build a presidential library in Dallas for former President George W. Bush, Bush 43, were upset with this development, because they were backing then-state Rep. Dan Branch for Attorney General. (Eventually, the then-attorney general Greg Abbott—who has since gone on to become Texas’s governor—decided to run for re-election to his seat, so Branch and Cruz dropped out at that point). Rove, Cruz wrote, threatened to harm Cruz politically—and get Bush 43 to endorse his opponent—if Cruz went public with the Bush 41 endorsement.

In response to this revelation—first reported in an exclusive Cruz book excerpt obtained by Breitbart News over the weekend—Rove wrote a blog post saying Cruz got it wrong. In the blog post, Rove challenged several details contained within the Cruz book excerpt. But, late Sunday night, Cruz publicly published several emails he and Rove exchanged in 2009—including an email Rove himself wrote—that prove Rove was lying in his blog post, and Cruz is telling the truth in his book.


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