The bizarre media blitz of Dennis Milligan | Arkansas Blog

The bizarre media blitz of Dennis Milligan

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Just in case anyone can't get enough of the Dennis Milligan train wreck, his appearance today on the Paul Harrell Program, a right-wing radio show, is almost indescribably bizarre (assuming you have a high tolerance for conservative talk radio, see above). This followed a previous appearance on Dave Elswick's show on KARN earlier in the day on which Milligan said

I will put my hand on a Bible. They'll say I am trying to blackmail him out of the race or I tried to blackmail him out of the race. Absolutely not.

The thing about the Elswick appearance was that it occurred when Milligan was still going with the "hearsay" line re: conversations between Duncan Baird and himself. By the time he appeared on Harrell's show, we had posted audio recordings of those conversations, made by Baird. Milligan knew this. Many would conclude that the recordings don't paint Milligan in the best light. Not Milligan! He continued to insist that he had done nothing to try to push Baird out of the race on Harrell's show. In fact, he claimed that he too had recorded their conversations. 

Milligan, with Harrell joining in, does lots of scolding of the behavior of Baird and company at the Capitol. Harrell buys Milligan's story completely in the first half of the show. The host reads extensively from the original Arkansas Times report and pushes back, suggesting that Milligan is being unfairly maligned. (There's a small undercurrent to this story of resentment at Republicans involved in backing the "private option" — Baird, Rep. John Burris, and Speaker Davy Carter having been key proponents. Harrell brings it up several times on this show and Milligan's original claim was that Baird's enemies — not Milligan of course! — were after him because of his involvement in the "private option." All that said, many anti-"private option" legislators have now taken to Twitter to denounce Milligan, defend Baird, or both.)  

After Milligan hangs up with Harrell, Harrell almost immediately begins to realize he didn't quite have the whole story, as he starts to read some of the transcripts from the taped conversations (I believe our post went up just before they went on the air). Conservative blogger Nic Horton, the next guest, has listened to the tapes, and explains that it certainly sounds as though Milligan was pressuring Baird to exit the race, albeit in veiled terms (Horton compares it to a mobster saying "nice restaurant you have, it would really be a shame if something happened to it"). Horton also notes that the Capitol videos in question aren't scandalous in the first place. Within minutes, Harrell has done almost a complete 180 and is apologizing to listeners for the previous interview with Milligan. I have some sympathy for Harrell, actually. He was had, and Milligan was gone by the time he realized it. 

Everyone involved takes plenty of pot shots at Max and the Times, natch, but it's all very strange and very entertaining. If you've been following the saga and have some time to kill, check it out. Milligan, by the way, expresses confidence that the recordings will show he's done nothing wrong, and says he'll drop out if folks hear them and think otherwise. 


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