Friday, November 6, 2009

'Investigators have grown more skeptical that Bill Sparkman died at the hands of someone angry at the federal government'

Skepticism, wow! Who would have thought that the Associated Press might know a skeptic or two?
Investigators probing the death of a Kentucky census worker found hanging from a tree with the word "fed" scrawled on his chest increasingly doubt he was killed because of his government job and are pursuing the possibility he committed suicide, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. . . .
There were no defensive wounds on Sparkman's body, and while his hands were bound with duct-tape, they were still somewhat mobile, suggesting he could have manipulated the rope, the officials said. . . .
The strange case attracted national attention when it first came to light, prompting worries that it may be a sign of increased anger toward the federal government in the first year of Barack Obama's presidency. . . .
Read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Dan Riehl.) Since we've now got official permission from the Associated Press to start asking skeptical questions, I say we begin with this one:
  • For whom did the case "prompt worries" other than AP reporters Devlin Barrett and Jeffrey McMurray?
The original URL is no longer active for the Sept. 23 AP article -- also by Barrett and McMurray -- that went a long way toward "prompting worries" in this regard, but it happens that I quoted it in my Hot Air Green Room report:
The FBI is investigating whether anti-government sentiment led to the hanging death of a U.S. Census worker near a Kentucky cemetery. A law enforcement official told The Associated Press the word “fed” was scrawled on the dead man's chest.
After quoting that tendentious lede, I went pointed out how the AP article described the source:
The article said this official "was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity," and went on to cite David Breyer, a spokesman in the FBI's Louisville, Ky., office as saying that "the bureau is helping state police with the case."
That article had a dateline from Washington, D.C., where Barrett is based, so you can bet money that it was Barrett's unauthorized source at the Justice Department -- and not McMurray's sources in Kentucky -- who leaked the tidbit about "fed" scrawled on the chest and the "anti-government sentiment" motive.

OK, so here's the deal with anonymous sources: The source who gives a reporter bad information automatically forfeits his right to anonymity. Barrett's source misled him, so that the entire premise of that Sept. 23 article was bogus.

C'mon, Barrett: Name your source.

High time we made an example of some of these less-than-reliable sources, I say. And if you won't name your source, I can think of a few people on Capitol Hill -- hello, Mitch McConnell -- who might be willing to give me a quote or two for a story about how there needs to be an congressional investigation of leaks from unauthorized sources at DOJ.

Because you see, Devlin Barrett, I'm thinking this anonymous source of yours isn't FBI or regular DOJ bureaucracy. No, sir. My hunch is you got this tip from one of Barack Obama's political hacks over at Justice, which just happened to provide the White House with a story that fit their narrative arc:
These Tea Party people and folks asking health-care questions at town-hall meetings -- they're dangerous! Kooks! Wingnuts! Extremists! Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann have got the wool-hats whipped up into a lynch-mob frenzy!
Name your DOJ source, Barrett. Expose the culprit. Turn on the light, so we can watch that cockroach scurry away under the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, somebody send out a search party and try to find Andrew Sullivan's credibility.


  1. Shockingly, the unhinged lefties who blamed this on TEA parties and such have suddenly gone silent.

  2. This story had some of the worse reporting by the MSM I have ever seen. Worse, anyone with half a brain could tell that the stories were unsupported by facts but it didn't stop people from believing the b.s. anyway. Add onto it the bigotry against and the ignorance about the people of this area is unconscionable.

  3. Search party? I'm afraid you're going to need miners for that, because that sucker is buried way deep.