Monday, November 2, 2009

NY23: Hoffman is asked to react to Limbaugh's Dede 'bestiality' comment

Jude Seymour of the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times is a nice guy, who let me use his office computer two weeks ago when I first came up to cover this campaign. Exactly why he chose this occasion to spring a "gotcha" question on Doug Hoffman, I don't know. Watch the video, and make your own judgment.

After the video ended, Jude found himself called before an impromptu meeting of the Conservative Journalism Criticism Squad. One reporter who shall remain nameless -- but who might be press corps pin-up idol John McCormack -- described Seymour's method as the "Inquisition" approach to journalism.

Me, I started out at a 6,000-circulation weekly in Austell, Ga. You don't do ambush interviews in that kind of situation. Maybe I'm really not ready for the big leagues. I report. You decide.

And hit the tip jar. I'd say you got your money's worth tonight, eh?

UPDATE: The Rush Limbaugh quote to which Hoffman was asked to react:
How about Dede Scozzafava? You know what? Dede Scozzafava has just screwed every RINO in the country by showing everybody who they are. . . . She has just put an exclamation point on the problem with RINOs. They eventually end up exactly where most liberals do. They're just a little slower in getting there. But they end up where liberals are. Scozzafava has screwed every RINO in the country. We could say she's guilty of widespread bestiality. She has screwed every RINO in the country. Everyone can see just how phony and dangerous they are.
Today, Seymour put up a blog post with the title: "Rush, you should be ashamed."

UPDATE II: While I was working on the first update, about 10 p.m., the phone rang here at the National Desk in Watertown. It was Dave Weigel of the Washington Independent, asking about our plans for a bit of post-deadline socializing. And I freaking lost it.

Some of my friends may remember my newsroom blowup in 2007, when I cussed out Ken Hanner and kicked a steel door open on my way out of the Washington Times. Persuaded to reconsider, I eventually quit on good terms in January 2008.

OK, I'm hell on deadline. And my own shortcomings and sins are so glaringly obvious that it's hard for me to blame anyone else for my problems. I goof off and procrastinate when opportunity affords. But when deadline hits, I get kind of crazy. So this was all my fault. Mea culpa.

Still, sometimes, I get that Rodney Dangerfield don't-get-no-respect feeling and, under pressure, I can be even more of a total jerk than usual. Think of General Patton slapping that shell-shock case in Sicily.

So I had a screaming conniption. Impatient by nature, what I wanted to do at that moment in time was to finish the update, so that readers would have context in which to interpret the video. What I did not want to do was to answer the phone and have to think about the questions that Dave Weigel was asking about our post-deadline party plans.

Present at the time in the smoke-filled hotel room that is the National Desk were Ali Akbar, Kerry Picket and Hooah Mac. Surely, one of them would do me the favor of taking the phone and dealing with Weigel's questions. Uh . . . no. Because nobody owes me any favors.

And I freaking lost it. At one point in the two-minute rant that ensued, I was quite literally frothing at the mouth. A lifetime of personal frustration exploded upon friends who were innocent. For this unseemly tantrum, I apologize to all who were forced to witness it. Mea culpa.

However, next time I ask someone to please answer the phone while I'm on deadline -- I pray to God -- just answer the phone. That Jekyll-and-Hyde horror show was more frightening to me than it was to you, my victims. My wife will bake you brownies to compensate, and will never let me live it down.


  1. I thought Hoffman handled that very well. Leaving it at *no comment* seemed appropriate. Had he heard the comment in context, I suspect his answer would have been more parsed. Or not. After all, he is not a polished career politician, and that is why we support him.

  2. And why should Rush be ashamed? He spoke the truth. Anyone stupid enough not to understand the analogy is just that..stupid.

  3. It's hard to tell in the dark, but I bet Mr. Hoffman turned 6 shades of red with that question. I love that he asked again... I bet he was thinking, "I must have heard that wrong..."

  4. Proves the NYT is a den of snakes.

    Why does that surprise you?

    Did you think the loan of a computer had no price?

  5. I thought Hoffman handled that as well as anyone could.

  6. I am not a great Limbaugh fan but I thought it was hilarious. Sweet.

  7. He did very well - it was sprung on him and he was obviously confused by it having not heard anything about it, but "I'd have to interpret it first!" was just the right tone. And it got quite a few laughs. Good for him. He may not be a smooth talker but he's no dummy.

  8. I agree that Hoffman handled the question well. I don't fault the reporter for ambushing him with the question. At least Hoffman didn't call the police when asked a tough question like Scozzafava did. Was the ambush question on Limbaugh's statement an important issue to the voters? I think not. Were the ambush questions that Scozzafava was asked important to voters? I think more so. Ultimately, the relevance of the question is what will sway public opinion.

  9. You've done a great job covering this campaign. I will hit the tip jar in the morning.

  10. You don't know?

    Of course you know, they need a gottcha moment to try to sink him.

  11. Jude Seymour is shocked -- shocked! -- that an opinionated talker used a vulgar play on words about political opponents. Has Seymour ever commented on mainstream *reporters* calling Tea Partiers "teabaggers", a crude homophobic sexual slur? Has Seymour ever used that slur himself?

  12. Hey, y'know, Stacy: part of working on a team is giving a little extra room when someone has an acute moment, which we all do.

    It's the ones with the chronic 'personality' moments that don't last long.