“Harmless Rehash”: Politico’s HuffPo Diss

Back in August, I was apparently one of many reporters who got calls about dark rumors involving Rick Perry. They were sourceless; to prove them, the peddler suggested coming down to Austin and interviewing some prostitutes. For some reason, I didn’t bite, and neither did anyone else.

Well, sort of. In Politico’s new e-book on the campaign, Mike Allen and Evan Thomas reconstruct a story that never ran. In July, they report, the Perry campaign was “distressed to learn that Jason Cherkis, a Huffington Post reporter, was in Austin prowling around on a story that had been gossiped about for years in the Texas capital: is Perry gay?” The story, Allen and Thomas assure us, was illustrative of “the kind of off-the-wall queries that campaigns field.” The Perry campaign blew it off, and “took comfort in the Huffington Post’s roots on the left, which gave the Perry staff hope that mainstream outlets would ignore the story.” When Cherkis approached Team Perry to denials, a “Perry official” explains what went down: “He used an example of someone who wouldn’t answer a question, so that means he’s confirming… He would interpret that as ‘Ah-ha!’”

What a schmuck! The sidebar story ends with this:

Cherkis left Austin and wound up posting a harmless rehash, “Rick Perry’s ‘Texas Miracle’ Includes Crowded Homeless Shelters, Low-Wage Jobs, Worker Deaths.”

The possible revelations about Perry’s sexual life were harmful; a reported info dump on poverty in Texas was “harmless.” This is totally true.