Huckabee's Defensive Posture

(AP)
It's getting bumpy out there for Mike Huckabee.

After weeks of glowing coverage over his aw-shucksiness, the honeymoon for the Baptist minister is over – as predicted in this space.

And how is he dealing with the rise in critical coverage? Opening up the first page out of the political playbook and attacking the messenger.

Take for example the biggest recent story about him -- the story of his release of a serial rapist during his tenure as Arkansas Governor, as reported by Murray Waas in the Huffington Post:
As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee aggressively pushed for the early release of a convicted rapist despite being warned by numerous women that the convict had sexually assaulted them or their family members, and would likely strike again. The convict went on to rape and murder at least one other woman.

Confidential Arkansas state government records, including letters from these women, obtained by the Huffington Post and revealed publicly for the first time, directly contradict the version of events now being put forward by Huckabee.
How did the man with the Newsweek Cover respond? He gabbed with my buddies at MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and took issue not with the story's substance, but the story's location:
Let's first of all look at the source. The Huffington Post, one of the most left-wing blogs in the blogosphere, There are factual errors in what they have printed. Some of it is outrageously incorrect.
So he took a little bit of heat and decided it would be easier to discredit the website and the author rather than the story itself. Not only do I appreciate Murray Waas' work – his investigative pieces for National Journal were must-reads – but I consider him a friend as well. I figured I'd pick up the phone and see what he thought of a presidential contender taking him on like this. His response?
We carefully and meticulously reported our story, and would have hoped that the governor, as anyone else, if he had any complaints about what was written about him, which have kept those to the reported details of the story itself, instead of attempting to dismiss the very important issues raised by the story because of what he alleges is an ideological bias by the publication which posted the story.

It was telling that Governor Huckabee had to resort to attacking the Huffington Post as the only means to deflect attention from the substance of the story.

As to any personal bias that the governor believes that I have had, I actually had largely praised his tenure as governor of Arkansas. The sharp reduction of children without health insurance or Medicaid coverage while he was governor, for example, was newsworthy. But it is also a very legitimate news story to examine the role he played in freeing a convicted rapist from prison, who went on to rape and murder again, the judgment he used in doing so, and whether he has told the truth about the matter.
Note to now-frontrunner Huckabee: If you want to keep pushing forward in this campaign, you're going to have to do a bit better than assigning intent to a critical report here or there. If you only deal with damaging reporting through taking shots at the writer or the publication, you're only putting off dealing with the story.

Political baggage -- like interest on a credit card -- piles up if you don't confront it. You always end up having to pay up.
  • Matthew Felling

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