As predicted, former Gov. Mike Huckabee was given a front-page slot in the Sunday editorial section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to complain about coverage of his final days in office, partcularly his shredding of computer hard drives.
First things first: Unsurprisingly, he told a lie about the Arkansas Times in the process. He wrote: "Stories in the Arkansas Times that said 'furniture was missing' were proven to be false when everything was found in the inventory." The emphasis supplied is mine.
Let us quote from our first article on the whereabouts of the $70,000 in furniture provided for the Huckabee living quarters by cotton planter Boe Adams, a subject of controversy because Huckabee at first claimed the gift was a personal one. When ethical questions were raised, he changed his story and said the gift was to the state. Our quote:
The Arkansas Times can't find the furniture on a Department of Finance and Administration inventory of mansion property. First Lady Janet Huckabee, however, said the inventory is wrong, and the furniture is there.
A later article reported that state officials conducted a new inventory after the Huckabees had left the Mansion and most of the furniture was found in a carriage house. In short, Huckabee placed direct quotes around words we never wrote. We never said the furniture was missing. We said it wasn't on the inventory of Mansion furnishings and promptly quoted the first lady as saying the inventory was wrong. (Questions remain about why an inventory described by state officials as complete and careful failed to pick up that furniture during the 10 years of Huckabee occupation of the Mansion.) Needless to say, nothing we wrote was "proven false."
The bigger point is the D-G editorial department's allowing Huckabee to make an unfiltered attack on D-G reporting as "misleading if not downright dishonest." Huckabee also dictated the shape of the headline -- "The rest of the story" -- itself an unwarranted slam on the newspaper's reporting.
The op-ed is full of specifics worth exploring. The key point to remember is that it is a smokescreen. Any lack of context in the reporting on the hard drives is because HUCKABEE REFUSED TO TALK TO THE REPORTER. It's a pattern he's followed with us for years. When we've uncovered unflattering things about him -- and it's a frequent occurrence -- he refuses to comment. Then he can later claim the reporting is misleading and incomplete.
Reporter Seth Blomeley need feel no shame from this unwarranted attack. It's more a badge of honor. Stuck pig squeals, as we've said before.
A few of the points Huckabee glides over: How did he have "personal office furniture" to remove? Did he buy it himself? If not, why was it his to take? Same for the lights and sound equipment he now claims was purchased by his campaign. He's well past time to close out past campaigns for governor. Is he saying he used campaign funds to buy equipment that now belongs to him personally? Huckabee explains the fit he threw over loss of cell phone and Blackberry communication by saying it was a justified emotional reaction to concern about an inability to communicate should -- SHOULD -- inclement weather hit the state. Please. Has the governor's office, home and Mansion no land lines? Is the governor not surrounded by a retinue of people also in possession of phones and Blackberries? Again, this is a red herring for an issue that has nothing to do with communication and everything to do with Huckabee's engorged sense of entitlement. His huffy personal e-mails fully reveal the man. Have to repair his own cell phone? Oh, the inhumanity of it. He complains, too, about the loss of state trooper e-mail at the Governor's Mansion on Christmas weekend. Was he still at the Mansion then? Do they not have radios and cell phones? And so it goes.
As ever, it's always about Huckabee. He was treated so much worse, you see, after the chaotic sudden departure of Jim Guy Tucker in 1996, a departure that allowed no time for transition. If he was mistreated (and Tucker says that's not true), then he is free to mistreat.
If you think Huckabee acts imperiously now, imagine him in the White House, with possession of the nuclear footbal.
The Democrat-Gazette news staff is not happy about this unanswered slam on its hard-working reporters and editors. Said one: "We're all appalled by it and concerned about the kind of precedent it sets."
Copy and paste this to read Huckabee's defense, which he is circulating to newsrooms all over Arkansas, we learned at Channel 4 tonight. Understand that his defense is inaccurate in any number of ways, which a reported news story would have shown.