The Washington Post‘s aptly named “The Fix” vertical has weighed in on an embarrassing email story involving Politico. The Post labels Politico editor Mike Allen’s offer of a “precisely” pre-arranged interview with Chelsea Clinton—one he promises will not involve any tough questions—a Republican conspiracy theory.
The piece’s author, Callum Borchers, writes, “you can bet the Republican presidential candidates — who often accuse the media of pro-Clinton bias — will pounce on this as confirmation of that belief.” Then he adds the line that became the headline for the piece, “It’s a ready-made ‘liberal media’ conspiracy theory.”
Apparently the Post needs some remedial help with the phrase “conspiracy theory.” That’s a description usually reserved for things like claims that the moon landings were faked or that building 7 in New York was brought down by controlled demolition. It does not usually apply to things for which we have written proof that no one denies is authentic. There is a different word for that: facts.
In this case, Gawker uncovered an email in which Politico‘s Mike Allen offers a “no risk” interview to allow Chelsea Clinton to “send a message during inaugural week.” Allen is very explicit that there will be “no surprises” and that questions will be “precisely” pre-arranged.
Asked about the email, Allen told the Post, “We didn’t do this interview and never provide questions in advance. Never have; never would. I don’t remember this e-mail. But all our events are spontaneous and news-driven, as you can tell by watching the videos of them, all of which are posted on our site.”
That’s what is known as a non-denial denial. Allen doesn’t dispute the email is his or that it is genuine, something he’d be inclined to do if it was an invention. Allen simply claims he doesn’t remember and would never have done what he offered to do in any case. Here’s the Post‘s reaction:
One interpretation of Allen’s e-mail to Philippe Reines, the Clinton aide, goes something like this: Hey, I’m looking for just a few minutes with Chelsea during an important time for her mom. This isn’t a probing, “60 Minutes”-style sit-down, so don’t worry about fielding anything out of left field.
Not so bad, right?
That’s a pretty generous assessment of something that the author of the email claims he would never do (and never has done). Mike Allen may or may not be telling the truth about remembering this email, but at least, he realizes it’s a big deal. At the Post, it’s “not so bad” even if it’s true and, oh yeah, it’s also a GOP conspiracy theory.