Pat McHenry denies saying that liberals “hate real Americans,” until the audiotape shows up.

The next time you hear a Republican politician denying a quote and wingnuts talking about how the press just Makes Sh*t Up, remember this sequence of events:

1. Republican Congressman at a McCain rally says something stupidly offensive about how liberals hate “real Americans.”

2. Local reporter picks it up.

3. ThinkProgress picks it up from the local reporter and Politico’s The Crypt picks it up from there.

4. Congressman denies saying it. Spokesgeek points out that the national press didn’t hear it.

5. Local reporter sticks by his story. Another reporter confirms. A third reporter points to a contemporaneous Twitter recording the quote. Spokesgeek keeps denying it, accuses The Crypt of “irresponsible journalism.”

6. Audiotape shows up. The quote is nearly word-for-word.

7. Congressman admits he said it, says he didn’t recall saying it and didn’t mean it the way it came out.

8. No one apologizes to the reporter.

I know this is hard for people to believe, but journalists are actual human beings. A reporter’s reputation for veracity is his stock in trade; without that, he’s unemployable. So the sort of routine dishonest denial that Rep. Hayes and Amanda Little offered in this case constitutes an attempt to destroy someone’s career. If I were covering this race, I would make this an appositive for both of them:

* “Rep. Hayes, who last week dishonestly denied having said something he’d been caught on tape saying, today claimed …”

* “Amanda Little, the press spokeman for Rep. Hayes who falsely accused reporter Josh Lanier of fabricating a quote from her boss, announced this afternoon …”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com