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Kristol: A Reporter Does His Job

11:11 AM, Oct 20, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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My colleague John McCormack called me last night, as I was watching the Phillies-Dodgers game, from his car in a parking lot in Lowville, N.Y. He had attended a Scozzafava campaign event, tried to ask the candidate a few questions -- and the Scozzafava campaign had called the police. John was astonished by this development, as was I -- but of course John cooperated courteously with the police officer, and then wrote up his experience straightforwardly and accurately.

Now the Scozzafava campaign accuses John of "a complete lack of decency" and of behaving in a "reprehensible" way. This is ludicrous. Needless to say, the police found nothing amiss. Moreover, the fact is that John didn't interrupt a conversation between Ms. Scozzafava and voters -- she wasn't talking to voters when John approached her. Nor did John "scream," nor did he get "in the face" of the candidate -- he was at least ten feet away from her in the parking lot, partly because a Scozzafava staffer interposed himself as John tried to ask substantive public policy questions of Ms. Scozzafava. The notion that John intended to "follow her home" is of course risible.

Let me emphasize: I have full confidence in the truth of John's account. And I won't allow a desperate campaign to try to tarnish the fine reputation John has built as a fair and accurate reporter -- and, for that matter, a very decent and mild-mannered young man.

As it happens, I was standing near John's desk in the office this past Friday. The phone rang. It was Scozzafava campaign spokesman Matt Burns, who didn't like something John had reported, and started yelling abusively at him the moment he answered the phone. We could hear Mr. Burns ten feet away. I gather Mr. Burns called later to apologize. I suppose John would accept another apology by the Scozzafava campaign. But it really would be better not to start down the road of berating reporters for accurately reporting the facts, or of calling the police when your candidate doesn't like the questions reporters are asking.