This morning, NPR reporter Sonari Glinton ran a story about the battle for the coal vote in southeastern Ohio and talked to one of the Democrats trying to separate himself from Barack Obama. Charlie Wilson, a two-term Democrat who lost in 2010, is trying to beat Rep. Bill Johnson, in part, by talking up his vote against cap and trade and his support for the coal industry. After running some of the GOP’s messaging against Obama – “fire Obama,” “war on coal” – Glinton quoted Wilson, sarcastically mocking the slogans.
“We don’t need to fire Obama and we don’t need to stop the war on coal,” says Charlie Wilson, the Democrat running for Congress in Ohio’s 6th Congressional District. He says one thing he and his opponent, Republican Rep. Bill Johnson, agree on is coal.
Within hours, the NRCC grabbed that quote and turned it into a short audio clip, implying that the comment wasn’t sarcastic and Wilson really meant this. I asked Wilson’s spokesman J.R. Starrett if the clip was fair.
“Is this real?” he asked. “It’s the farthest thing from the truth. Charlie has fought against both administrations, both the Bush administration and the Obama administration in the battle for coal. We were just at a forum this afternoon where Congressman Johnson said he and Charlie have the same position on coal.”
So I suggested to NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay that the Wilson quote was probably sarcastic. “I never said we were FactCheck,” said Lindsay.
As a Sarcastic-American, I’m hoping that re-interpreting wry comments as deadly serious comments isn’t some new campaign trend.
UPDATE: I ran the clip by Glinton, too. “When he said that to me,” said Glinton, “he said it clearly to mock the ads.”