MyManMitt Besmirches My Name

This just came to my attention now, and I don’t want to dwell too much on the matter, but blogger Justin Hart (aka MyManMitt) is spreading rumors about me that are simply untrue, and I think I should clear the air.

The pro-Romney blogger describes a recent series of exchanges between this site and Evangelicals for Mitt over Fred Thompson’s views on abortion, and makes two assertions that are false.

The first one:

Here’s the short version: Nancy French (a native of Tennessee) opined that she thought Thompson was pro-choice in his original incarnation for the Senate. Philip Klein and other people in the blogosphere then accused them of being liars.

It is flatly untrue that I accused them of being liars. Read the post in question. All I did was report that a co-director of the National Right To Life Committee disagreed with the categorization of Thompson as pro-choice in 1994. I gave the post a neutral headline: “National Right to Life Committee on Thompson,” and in the opening sentence I made it crystal clear that I was quoting the views of one specific individual:

This morning, I cited reports being promoted by the pro-Romney blog Evangelicals for Mitt suggesting that Fred Thompson ran his two campaigns for Senate in Tennessee as a pro-choicer. Not so, National Right to Life executive co-director Darla St. Martin just told me.

If some other websites looked at this and wrote more sensational headlines accusing Evangelicals for Mitt of being liars, that’s not something I can control.

The second inaccuracy by MyManMitt:

Yesterday, I suspect that Philip Klein (who I gather to be AntiRomneyesque) fed some items into the Prowler Column on Spectator.org.

This is absolutely not true. Everything I write for the Spectator, or for any other publication, I write under my own name. I find it galling that in a post accusing the Spectator of “a pathetic attack with little evidence,” Justin would accuse me of something with absolutely zero evidence.

The genesis of the current spat involves my reporting on the surprisingly elusive question of what Thompson’s abortion position was in the mid-1990s. Throughout the whole process, I’ve been driven by a journalistic itch to find the truth.

In my initial post on the matter last Thursday (titled “Flip Flopping Fred?”), I included a block quote of all the news excerpts from the mid-1990s describing Thompson as pro-choice that were pointed out by Evangelicals for Mitt. I concluded the post by writing, “for all the ribbing Romney has taken on his abortion evolution, it’s only fair to give other potential candidates the same scrutiny, especially because the Thompson boomlet is based on him being the whole package.”

What piqued my curiosity was the fact that none of the news articles cited had a direct quote from Thompson saying he was pro-choice, or that he believed in a woman’s right to choose–they just described him as pro-choice, or in one case “basically pro-choice.” This wasn’t satisfying to me.

I scoured Nexis, and couldn’t find a quote of Thompson clearly espousing that he was pro-choice. So, like any good reporter, I decided to make some calls and see what I could find out. I put a call into the National Right to Life Committee to see if they had any insight into his record. The executive co-director Darla St. Martin promptly got back to me and adamantly rejected reports that Thompson was pro-choice in 1994, saying that she interviewed him in person and determined that he opposed abortion and that he had a consistent pro-life voting record. I posted what she told me.

But the story kept evolving, and I later followed up by posting Ramesh Ponnuru’s 2000 item describing Thompson’s pro-choice background. And Tuesday, I uncovered an excerpt from a 1995 Judiciary Committee hearing that I thought shed some light on the controversy.

This is an evolving story that has been hard to pin down. But I’ve been reporting on everything I find in a totally transparent manner. I’ve been perfectly respectful of other views. I’ve never accused anybody of being a liar, and I certainly never wrote anything anonymously. So, like Michael Corleone before me, I say to Justin: I hope you will have the decency to clear my name with the same publicity with which you have now besmirched it.