There are rumors that Rob McKenna is a Podcasting Liberally aficionado. Go figure!
The rumors have come to light following a smear campaign against Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jason Osgood, who is running against Sam Reed. The tale is long and somewhat convoluted, but I have an unimpeachable source for the rumor: me. And the source of the smear campaign? Well…as the producer of Podcasting Liberally that rumor traces it back to…me. Or, stated more concisely, the smear originated from Rob McKenna’s misunderstanding of a podcast I produced, which McKenna is rumored (by me) to regularly enjoy.
Allow me to explain.
Last Friday, Washblog front-paged a diary by jeffuppy that traces the origins of the smear, so we begin our rumor/smear adventure last Wednesday at, of all places, a meeting of the 34th District Democrats:
Part of the night’s agenda included approval of proposals to donate money to Democratic candidates for statewide office.
…I stood and introduced a motion to contribute to Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jason Osgood. I expected little or no opposition….However, to my surprise, King County Council Member Dow Constantine stood to speak in opposition. Constantine was clearly upset with Osgood, and proceeded to trash him before the group. His anger was focused on public statements he claimed Osgood has recently been making to the effect that King County uses bar-codes on ballots which allow votes to be tracked back to voters. King County uses no such system….
…Jason Osgood has never said any of the things about King County ballots that he was accused of saying. In fact, Osgood has consistently and publicly said the exact opposite – that King County does not use bar-codes and that this is a good thing.
The donation motion did not pass, likely on account of the
information rumor that Constantine had been so helpful in sharing spreading.
Afterward Jeffuppy asked Constantine about the rumor, and he produced an email to the King County Council from Sherril Huff, the King County Director of Elections:
…misinformation has been shared at local public meetings as well as editorial boards regarding how timing marks on ballots are used in King County. Unfortunately a candidate running for office publicly misstated that King County ballots can be traced back to the voter using a bar code on the ballot.
Not fully satisfied by this email that was all spiced-up in bureaucrateese, Jeffuppy asked Huff for a plain-language translation including when and where she had heard Osgood make these statements. But she had not actually heard the statements. Rather, Nick Handy, State Director of Elections (an office that under the Secretary of State’s office), had shared this information with her.
So Jeffuppy asked Handy the same “when and where” question. Remarkably, Handy didn’t have firsthand knowledge either.
He had simply been told about them, he said, by Attorney General Rob McKenna and by Eastside State Representative Fred Jarret. They had in turn been told about them by unnamed citizens.
That adds two more generations to the rumor.
Chad Shue writing at the Seattle Examiner summarizes the chain rumor thusly:
So there you have it. Based on unchecked statements by “unnamed citizens” allegedly passed on by Republican office holders to the chief deputy of the incumbent Republican candidate for the office that oversees state elections, the Director of Elections for King County has (hopefully unwittingly) aided in the effort to undermine the credibility of the Democratic candidate for that office.
Or, more succinctly: it was a “he said that she said that he said that they said that people said that Jason Osgood said…” chain rumor.
Last June 10th, just as his campaign was starting up, we had had Jason Osgood on the weekly Podcasting Liberally panel. If he was going to make a misstatement on the record, this early appearance would be the place. I’ve pulled out the relevant segment where Jason discusses King County and the bar code controversy (which is really about San Juan county):[audio:http://horsesass.org/wp-content/uploads/secretballot2.mp3]
Osgood does mention King and San Juan counties in the same breath. I can see how someone might mistakenly think that Jason was flagging King county as one of the problem counties…particularly, if that someone is a closeted Podcasting Liberally buff secretly listening to the podcast in the privacy of men’s room stall in one ear while maintaining vigilance with the other ear. (As an aside, the “men’s room” stuff isn’t officially part of the rumor…I just threw that in as a hypothetical.)
Such an interpretation of Osgood’s words would be mistaken, as is clear from the transcript:
You know, I have studied King County the most, and Washington to a lesser extent. And nationally, I’m not very interested in Florida, New Mexico. I know that there are problems, but we are looking at King County. We’re looking a San Juan county and the issues that we’re facing here.
We have a constitutional right to a secret ballot. That means no one can determine how we vote—should not be able to determine—not possible. And in San Juan county and other counties using the same system, they have a unique bar code that is linked to your voter ID which is tracked—your mail ballot is tracked—all the way through to tabulation.
Jason mentions King county in passing but only before he raises the secret ballot issue, after which he only mentions San Juan county.
As long as politicians blissfully pass along unverified, fifth-generation rumors that tangibly cost a candidate money and support, I’d like to get in on the game. So, based on a simple plausibility argument (i.e. with no violations of the laws of physics), I offer a new rumor that sheds shocking new light on the fifth generation rumor about Osgood. My rumor is that Rob McKenna is a huge fan of Podcasting Liberally. That explains everything, because he obviously listened to our podcast, and simply misunderstood what Osgood was saying. McKenna started the Osgood rumor chain by passing his misunderstanding on to Handy and Huff.
Yeah, sure…I’ve got no real proof that Rob McKenna really enjoys the podcast—perhaps that is a stretch. By the standards of our esteemed politicians, however, spreading a rumor that McKenna enjoys the podcast is pretty tame stuff. And let me say, it is a real honor to have Rob as a fan of the podcast…I appreciate the patronage, even if it occasionally catalyzes a false rumor.
Oh…and Rob McKenna is a Muslim.