Political Animal


December 22, 2011 8:35 AM Ron Paul struggles with scrutiny

By Steve Benen

The irony of Ron Paul’s new problem is that he’s wanted the media to start taking his candidacy seriously for quite a while, but reporters have treated him like a joke and a sideshow. Now that news outlets are taking him seriously and asking about his record, the Texas congressman seems thoroughly annoyed.

As you’ve probably heard, Paul published political newsletters for several years in the 1990s, called the “Ron Paul Survival Report,” many of which included racist, homophobic, and anti-Israeli propaganda. The most offensive content from Paul’s publications didn’t come with a byline, and the congressman later claimed to be unaware of the bigotry in his own newsletters.

When the political establishment considered Paul a meaningless afterthought, the media didn’t pay too much attention to this. Now that the Texan stands a reasonably good chance of winning the Iowa caucuses, reporters are starting to press Paul for some answers. And wouldn’t you know it, the congressman finds this terribly irritating.

CNN’s Gloria Borger pressed Paul on the issue yesterday. Paul said he read his own publication “on occasion,” but referencing the bigoted columns, he added, “I didn’t write them. I disavow them. That’s it.”

BORGER: But there are reports that you made almost a million dollars off of them in — in 1993.

PAUL: No. Who — I’d like to share — see that money.

BORGER: So you read them, but you didn’t do anything about it at the time?

PAUL: I never read that stuff. I never — I’ve never read it. I came — I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written. And it’s been going on 20 years, that people have pestered me about this. And CNN does it every single time.

When Borger noted that some of the racist content he published was “pretty incendiary,” Paul snapped backed, “That’s because of people like you.” (I’m not sure what that’s even supposed to mean.)

A moment later , Paul took off his microphone and ended the interview.

I can appreciate why Paul finds scrutiny inconvenient. I can even understand why this seems unusual for him, because he’s accustomed to simply being able to spout off on any subject he wants, appealing to like-minded fans, and not having to deal with reporters asking pesky questions about his record.

But Paul can’t have it both ways. If he wants the media to start treating him like a real presidential candidate, it’s time he realizes that real presidential candidates get asked questions like these. It’s also time the congressman start offering some additional information about this controversy, including whether he knows who wrote the offensive content and whether those people still have a role in his operation.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Danp on December 22, 2011 8:49 AM:

    Paul is a classic example of someone whose ideas don't stand up to honest debate, but they sound good if you don't know anything about the subjects. My Paul-disciple friends all think they are economics experts, but think the crisis of 2008 was caused by "derivatives" alone, which they can't define. They think everything would have worked out if not for TARP and the Fed interference. Ron Paul is just a modern-day Wizard of Oz.

  • MattF on December 22, 2011 8:51 AM:

    People are going to keep asking because his answers don't pass the smell test. If there was a newsletter entitled "The MattF Report", I'd read every word.

  • Gov't Mule on December 22, 2011 8:53 AM:

    Even if one accepts Paul's denials that he had no knowledge or that he didn't write the offensive articles, it opens up an entirely new criticism of his management style and what we might expect in a Paul Administration. In other words, he lent his name to a newsletter and never bothered to check the content.

  • jim filyaw on December 22, 2011 9:02 AM:

    one of the more humorous things about paul's recent surge is andrew sullivan's recent jones for him in his postings--kind of like the light in the loafers barkeep in 'good morning vietnam' who had an obsession for pics of walter brennan in the buff.

  • Stevio on December 22, 2011 9:09 AM:

    German townsfolk to American "liberators":

    "We didn't know those boxcars were filled with Jews!"

  • zandru on December 22, 2011 9:09 AM:

    "...and anti-Israeli propaganda"

    Anti-Israeli?!? He's toast. (Yes, that's Texas toast...sigh)

  • James on December 22, 2011 9:13 AM:

    What's with old Gloria doing all that apologizing for asking basic, run-of-the-mill questions that any reporter learns in Journo 101. "Oh, mistah Paul. I'm sorry to trouble you with these hard questions. I apologize for making you uncomfortable. My bosses made me do it. Forgive me for making you mad." sheesh. What. A. Hack.

  • DAY on December 22, 2011 9:13 AM:

    Paul's perpetual presidential perambulation is just another distracting sidebar in the 2012 Republican extravaganza.

    The ONLY one with sufficient back office resources to gain the nomination-people/organization/money- is Romney. Unfortunately, his personality and history have him stuck at 25%. Brokered convention, anyone?

  • freelunch on December 22, 2011 9:15 AM:

    Libertarian arguments have resonated with racists ever since our governments abandoned Jim Crow. Ron Paul, as a Libertarian and libertarian activist can hardly be unaware of that problem.

    Whether he was inviting racists to be his supporters or just indifferent to what they thought does not really matter, his name was on the newsletter that contained the incendiary remarks.

    "(Iím not sure what thatís even supposed to mean.)"

    ...and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!

  • T2 on December 22, 2011 9:17 AM:

    Like Perry, Cain, Bachmann, Gingrich, Romney....Ron Paul has thrived in an atmosphere that allows him to pontificate...to spout his mantras without "pesky questions" being asked. With Perry, he just laughs them off or just walks away, Gingrich engages in confusing rhetoric, Bachmann goes nuts, Cain lies. They've all developed, by necessity, ways to deal with "pesky questions" because they have no real answers. Neither does Ron Paul.

  • c u n d gulag on December 22, 2011 9:22 AM:

    I only wrote and read the good stuff. I have no clue who snuck in and wrote that racist, anti-Semitic stuff!

    He's just another clown in their circus.

    The Libertarian clown who railed against them, now wonders why there's no net when he's got to walk the tightrope.

  • beejeez on December 22, 2011 9:22 AM:

    Oh, like somebody circulating a racist newsletter under your name for several years while you're completely unaware of it has never happened to you.

  • berttheclock on December 22, 2011 9:30 AM:

    Ron's petulant walkoff reminds me of when Wally George sat in with former Mayor Sam Yorty on AM radio in LA in the '70s. It was during the Watergate time. If anyone called in with any question Wally did not approve, he would yell, "We don't have to take that" and cut them off. The funniest part of the programs came when Yorty agreed Nixon must go and Wally became extremely confused. Does anyone still remember Wally's TV program, where he would have Brown Shirts remove any guest he didn't like, while, his rabid crowd of young male adults in the audience would hurl insults. Wally thought Morton Downey, Sr backstabbed his attempt to go national.

  • internet tough guy on December 22, 2011 9:33 AM:

    Obviously, the newsletter is a Jewish plot to undermine Congressman Paul.

    This just shows that, like everything else, the media is controlled by the ZOG, who fear the gold standard.

  • Lifelong Dem on December 22, 2011 9:50 AM:

    But Paul canít have it both ways.

    Um, yes he can. He's a Republican, which means he can demand that the media ignore his history or, like Newt, he can get a lot of people working to revise his history. Did you know that Newt was the most bipartisan Speaker in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives? It's TRUE!

    And Ron Paul is a serious candidate for the presidency!

  • NHCt on December 22, 2011 9:59 AM:

    Clearly Bill Ayers wrote those newsletters.

  • schtick on December 22, 2011 10:04 AM:

    People, pay attention! The tealiban is supposed to be treated seriously, not asked serious questions! Get it?

    crapcha....you've leasess....not I

  • Crusty the Clown on December 22, 2011 10:14 AM:

    Re: c u n d gulag's comment

    "He's just another clown in their circus."

    I'm getting tired of you guys insulting those of us who are real clowns. These so-called "clowns" have no sense of timing, don't know how to take a pratfall, and, frankly speaking, aren't funny. If clowns were really running the show we'd make sure the Republican debates had ample quantities of custard pies and fully charged bottles of seltzer water.

  • me on December 22, 2011 10:14 AM:

    it's been a busy few months for karl rove, what with ratf*cking romney's opposition. i guess his was a self-fulfilling prophecy: that this was going to be the nastiest presidential campaign in history.

  • AgentS on December 22, 2011 10:17 AM:

    It is kind of a dead issue these days.

    there is a LOT of meat on the bones regarding his record and stances taken while in Congress. His supporters LOVE talking about his record- which I think is his greatest weakness.

    And his homophobia (Remember Bruno?).
    And his anti-choice agenda, the antithesis of true libertarianism. What, a woman can't decide what to do with her body, congressman?

    So let's move away from the newsletters and hit him on his voting record. And most importantly- how is he going to get the Congress to do anything he wants them to do? They haven't listened to him in his 30 years of being in the House; why would they listen to him if he'd be in the White House?

  • godoggo on December 22, 2011 10:17 AM:

    I remember Wally's show. It was awesome. I used to see Rudy Kraus shopping at my local supermarket until a few months ago.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on December 22, 2011 10:25 AM:

    WTF? Do all of these Republicans think they're just going to coast to glory in Nov 2012 and that Obama is going to submissively hand over the keys to the White House???

    It's like these moonbats have a collective institutional memory span of 59 seconds. Every one of these blockheads are currently in the equivalent of a Roman Colosseum death match (bread and circus for the masses, ya know) and bear witness to their own GOP comrades getting gutted with piss-poor debates (Perry), political buffonery & sex scandals (Cain), and skeezy self-serving politics and flip floppery (Gingrinch & Romney). These are some of the dirtiest fighters the GOP has to offer us, and yet they have the defense skills of sissified tweety birds when asked simple questions. (Romney, to his credit, has been developing some defensive moves but only because he's been getting his ass handed to him every three days for the past few months now... the Mitt-bot can learn.)

  • Highguy on December 22, 2011 10:41 AM:

    "...and anti-Israeli propaganda"

    Anti-Israeli?!? He's toast. (Yes, that's Texas toast...sigh)
    That is you consider the belief that there is an Israel Lobby running our government as merely being anti-Israel. See, to some of us, that sentimentality clearly crosses the line into flat-out anti-Semitism.

    And where is that line? Probably around the above prognosis of Texas toast.

    Then again, it's so great to know that others believe we have all the power.

  • Michael on December 22, 2011 10:45 AM:

    "When Borger noted that some of the racist content he published was "pretty incendiary," Paul snapped backed, "That's because of people like you." (I'm not sure what that's even supposed to mean.)"

    "People like you" are people who insist on getting all insulted and outraged when he says something outrageous, racist, homophobic, etc., i.e. liberals, moderates and anyone who's not a crazy bigot. Those people.

  • Fess on December 22, 2011 10:51 AM:

    He could be like Palin and just refuse interviews by "hostile" entities. Unbelievably, it seemed to work for her and be OK with her fans.

  • Patrick Star on December 22, 2011 10:59 AM:

    Did somebody mention Wally George?


    I was in the audience during a "debate" between neo-Nazi Tom Metzger and Rubin (?) of the Jewish Defense League. Very creepy! Funny show, tho. He would probably be considered too liberal for today's Republicans.

  • Howlin Wolfe on December 22, 2011 1:01 PM:

    Who will be the last clown standing? Stay tuned!

  • booch221 on December 22, 2011 1:28 PM:

    Which makes it all the more puzzling, that Andrew Sullivan would endorse this "lawn gnome" for the GOP nomination.

  • Lance on December 22, 2011 2:58 PM:

    So, is Obama NOT responsible for what Reverend Wright said in Wright's pulpit, or is Ron Paul responsible for what he published in his own newsletter?

    Inquiring minds want to know...

  • Robert on December 22, 2011 2:58 PM:


    Clowns-including that freaky Claribell-
    are scary, Republican clowns most of all.

  • Robert on December 22, 2011 4:13 PM:

    Have any of you ever wondered why the news agencies in the late 80's and early 90's never reported on this. Was not racism an issue then as it is now. Seeing this newsletter had a circulation of about 8000 I would say if they existed at least 1 would of been reported on. It makes me wonder if the newsletters that surfaced later could have been forged using the format of any of the real newsletters. After researching Dr Pauls postions on civil liberties which would benefit blacks and minorities more than whites using common sense I have to come to the conclusion he could not of wrote them or allowed them knowing to be wrote.
    Btw I a a black man who voted for obama who is looking for an alternative to vote for and am lean towards Paul now because of my research pertaining to this issue

  • sue on December 22, 2011 4:42 PM:

    and i wonder why nobody talks about his keynote address to the John Birch Society's 50th anniversary gala wherein he praises them-that was in 2008 for goodness sake!

  • sue on December 22, 2011 4:43 PM:

    and i wonder why nobody talks about his keynote address to the John Birch Society's 50th anniversary gala wherein he praises them-that was in 2008 for goodness sake!

  • Doug on December 22, 2011 11:14 PM:

    ""Ron Paul is just a modern-day Wizard of Oz." DanP 8:49 AM.

    Got it in one!

  • Frank D on December 23, 2011 4:37 PM:

    Gym Bunny, do you remember the questions in the 2008 debates asked of Obama? How about the 60 minute interviews? I never heard so many puff ball, feel good, generalities in my life. CNN hounds and tries to trap a person and you guys gloat? Instead you should be pissed at the bias in the US media. Obama gets a peace prize and bombs Libya, sends political advisers into Congo, baits Iran, sends AlQuida to Syria, leaves numerous military bases in Iraq, mans FEMA camps, signs the NDAA to take away my Constitutional rights, calls his grand parents White Folks - did you say anything about this? Obama is a suit controlled by global powers (read Soros), he is a Marxist. People on this site live with their heads in the sand, Obama in 2012 - Change, maybe we'll get it soon... if we had a real leader.

  • Sean on January 06, 2012 12:56 AM:

    There's one thing I don't think you guys understand about Ron Paul. He has been fighting for civil liberties for almost his whole political career. You can't call someone racist for standing up for the rights of EVERYBODY given by the constitution. Even though the newsletter was under his name, it was more than just him that wrote it. He made one mistake in his political career and that is not editing that one newsletter before it went out. That's the only negative information that the media and other candidates have against him and they can't seem to let it go.

  • bruthshakia on January 16, 2012 10:02 AM: