Friday, May 28, 2010

The end of the story? (UPDATED)

1st UPDATE: 7:05 p.m. EDT: Rep. Sestak met with the media late this afternoon, attempting to clarify the "bribe" accusations that have been swirling in recent days. Detailed remarks from him are contained in this NPR News story.

For Democrats, the comments from Rep. Sestak will be sufficient to end the controversy. For Republicans, the opinion will be different. But what is even more intriguing is how the media will react to what he said.

It bears watching what they report over the next couple of days.

ORIGINAL POST: So as I noted on this blog a couple of weeks ago, there was legitimacy to those rumors that the White House wanted Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak to not challenge Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

Today (and let's deal with the timing issue later) we learn this (and it comes from The New York Times):

President Obama's chief of staff used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of a Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, people briefed on the matter said Friday.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, asked Mr. Clinton to explore the possibilities last summer, according to the briefed individuals, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the politically charged situation. Mr. Sestak said no and went on to win last week's Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Senator Arlen Specter.

An unpaid, advisory position? That hardly seems worthy of checking out of a Senate race that Rep. Sestak knew he had an opportunity to win. In other words, I don't think this story has come to an end. In fact, it might take a statement from the president to calm these rough waters.

As you evaluate the story, please note that the timing of the release of this information is important. It happened late in the afternoon on a Friday of a holiday weekend. As I've stated on other places on this blog, Fridays (and especially those that fall on holiday weekends) are the PERFECT time for politicians (or anyone else for that matter) to acknowledge "bad" information.

The reasons are simple -- Americans are checking out for the holiday weekend and are less likely to pay attention to news. Moreover, news consumption falls over the weekend regardless of the weekend in question.

In short, for the White House to (finally) admit to the Sestak rumors on this day is a classic news management technique.

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