- MSNBC - A hoax aimed at James Carville
has backfired and landed a lot of Capitol Hill staffers in hot water. Last
Thursday, the Beltway was swept up by a wild rumor that James Carville
had been arrested and accused of domestic violence.
- The paper that the article was attributed
to, The Montgomery County Ledger, doesn't exist.
- AN ARTICLE WAS circulated via the Internet
that detailed the allegations against one of Bill Clinton's most vocal
defenders: he had supposedly shot a gun into a couch, plunged a hunting
knife into a wall, and 'threatened the life of his wife, radio talk show
host Mary Matalin Carville, and used physical force against her.' The incident
was a complete fabrication. The paper that the article was attributed to,
The Montgomery County Ledger, doesn't exist; individuals quoted in the
'article' were made up. But without checking into the veracity of the article,
staffers on the Hill e-mailed it to colleagues, giving it extra credibility.
"This junk came out the offices of Congress," said one source.
"It's a libelous slur that was perpetrated via government property.
It's Hillary Clinton's vast right-wing conspiracy at work."
- Read the full text of the e-mail hoax
that circulated on the Internet here: <http://www.msnbc.com/news/news/234656.asp
- It could not be determined who originated
the article, but among the congressional offices it apparently passed through:
Rep. Bill Thomas of California, Rep. Michael Bilirakis of Florida, Rep.
Rick Lazio of New York, Rep. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Rep. Bob Riley
of Alabama, Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma, Rep. Howard 'Buck' McKeon of
California, Rep. Dan Miller of Florida, Rep. Bill Thomas of California,
Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, Rep. Michael Forbes of New York and Rep.
Chris Cannon of Utah. All are Republican. "I'm curious as to all the
permutations and connections involved here," James Carville told the
New York Post's Page Six, which exposed the hoax on Friday. "For now,
I'll just have to keep my feelings to myself and let my lawyers deal with
it." Washington Post staff writer Howard Kurtz also reported on the
hoax in Friday,s edition of that paper, noting that the 'phony report was
aired by American Family Radio, a conservative network run by a Christian
activist that reaches 25 states' and was posted on the station's Web site
- until the hoax was discovered and the phony report retracted.
- "We're very, very upset about it,"
said a staffer for one of the congressmen, who asked not to be identified,
told The Scoop. "We see it as a personnel problem, which we're dealing
with in a very harsh manner. We're in the process of formulating a policy
against personal use of e-mail." Another source says one e-mailer
who forwarded the message to 10 friends was put on suspension. "It
was an innocent mistake," says the source, "but a very dumb one."
Rep. Aderholt - whose low-level staffer sent the bogus e-mail to 10 people,
including some in Republican Sen. Phil Gramm's office and C-SPAN - says
he "condemns this activity and regrets that it has occurred,"
adding, "We'll be taking appropriate administrative action in regards
to the incident." Had any of the staffers spoken French, they might
have known better than to spread the rumor. The article was bylined Lee
Canular, which is French for 'hoax.'