Retraction time, sort of. Seems Blake Aued kind of got it wrong in Sunday’s “In The Loop,” as regards the semi-fundraiser that the Athens Chamber of Commerce is semi-hosting for Ralph Reed, who, as we all know, is running for lieutenant governor. We covered it here.
Courtesy of a friend at the Chamber, (we know, don’t revoke our Democratic street cred, we do have friends in the Chamber) we received the following strongly-worded “nuh-uh!!” from the CoC. We won’t quote the whole thing, because man, the Chamber can be wordy at times, but here’s the gist:
“…this was not a fundraiser for Ralph Reed. He was invited to be a
speaker at our first Executive Lecture Series as a business owner. No
proceeds were to go to him, or his organization, or his political
“We do not endorse political candidates, nor use any portion of member
dues for political purposes. We do, however, have a separate PAC for such purposes.
“Finally, Chateau Elan is a Chamber member in good standing. It is our
long standing policy to only do business with Chamber members. In 2005,
we have used more than a dozen members to cater our events.”
So there you have it. Either the Chamber is engaging in some really fast damage control, or Blake flat got it wrong. For answers, we went to a source we trust, who also happens to be an active member of the Chamber, as well as having some pretty sharp political insight. Our source tells us:
“The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between. Who would invite one of the nation’s most controversial businessmen and political candidates just to talk about leadership? And on top of that, a guy with nationally publicized ethics charges? So I have no doubt they were sucking up to him, and they are guilty of politics by association.
“But the reporter's job is to get the facts and tell the truth, and he
failed miserably. If he missed it that bad, I would fire him.”
It’s nothing new for the ABH to get it wrong. There are usually one or two minor facts that are off in just about anything they write. But this is a big screwup for the ABH, if true. And it brings up questions about the amount of research that Blake puts into his columns.
If you want our two cents, here goes. The Chamber got misrepresented in a big way by the ABH on this one. Blogging about the “fundraiser-that-isn’t” yesterday made us curious, for one of the very reasons that the Chamber’s response cites. Fact is, the Chamber does, as we mentioned, have a PAC, so any fundraisers would logically, and we imagine legally, go through them, not the Chamber itself. In retrospect, that was something we should have mentioned as well.
Our question now is, whither Blake Aued? Does he get a slap on the wrist from the editorial staff? Or will it be worse? Or, in typical dead tree media style, will the ABH just let this go away? We suspect that the answer to that question is wholly contingent on exactly how big a stink the Chamber decides to make about this issue.