As his book title suggests, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says he wants to get some things off his chest in his new tome A Time For Truth. Who better to get honest about than the news media?
But before you get too excited about yet another politician ripping on a reporter for allegedly being a pawn of one of his political enemies, try using a loose interpretation of the word “honest” where Cruz’s explanation is concerned.
Specifically, he blasts Politico‘s Manu Raju, whom he doesn’t cite by name, WaPo‘s Bob Woodward and the Wall Street Journal. The story he references is by Raju, making it easy to figure out who Cruz is blasting.
The presidential hopeful employs one of the worsts accusations he can make about a reporter — he refers to Raju as Sen. Mitch McConnell‘s (R-Ky.) flack. Oddly, before the book was released, Manu had never received any complaints about his work concerning the senator. Was Cruz just storing up fresh outrage for his book?
“The Republican leadership’s attacks are amplified and made more effective by using friendly media outlets. When leadership is displeased, they place hit pieces with journalists only too happy to cooperate. Indeed, so much so that one particular Politico reporter often seems like he is Mitch McConnell’s press secretary; nearly every attack from leadership gets echoed and amplified in his stories. As this reporter noted after one Senate lunch (apparently without irony): ‘The closed‐door [Senate lunches] are supposed to be private . . . so senators interviewed for this article asked not to be named.'”
Raju’s editor Mike Zapler stands by his reporter’s work.
“We’re proud of Manu’s reporting and believe there’s no one better at ferreting out information on the Senate,” Zapler told The Mirror in a quote that he also gave to Breitbart‘s Matthew Boyle. “We’d also point out that Senator Cruz writes in his book about the same closed-door spats that Manu detailed in real time, so their accuracy apparently is not in dispute.”
In Cruz’s mind, Raju may act like McConnell’s press secretary, but sources tell The Mirror that McConnell’s office doesn’t likely share his view considering the anger that has come with some of the stories he’s written about him.
Curiously, Cruz has passed around Raju’s stories like candy. Oh, were some stories actually useful to him then? The headline on the release: “ICYMI: Sen. Cruz in POLITICO: Best Approach to King v. Burwell Is to Allow States to Opt Out.” See the full story that shined a light on Cruz fighting his own party on Obamacare.
But bashing the media is a national pastime — gutting a reporter is great fun for Cruz.
“He cites anonymous quotes but those were not all from Politico stories,” said a source familiar with Politico congressional coverage. “In fact if you go back and look, many stories Politico has written about Cruz and his party include lots of on the record quotes from senators. He conveniently leaves that out of his book. …The irony here is Cruz is using the fights with his party leadership – which Politico’s Raju has covered extensively – as a basis of his campaign. ”
The press secretary accusation doesn’t really hold up. Not if you look at the stories that Raju has written about McConnell and the effect they’ve had. Was Cruz taking a nap on the days those were published?
Take this bad news story for McConnell for days in the heat of election season last year since it was viewed as undermining his campaign message of getting Washington working under GOP leadership.
This story most definitely didn’t please McConnell’s press office — in fact, quite the opposite. He’d just been sworn into office and was on a high, taking a victory lap. Raju wrote about McConnell breaking some of his promises for regular order — hardly the act of a “press secretary.”
There was also this story, which highlighted McConnell’s close relationship with a benefactor — the founder of Humana — and doing favors for him on Capitol Hill.
And there was this story about how McConnell was avoiding tough votes and forcing other Republicans to be sacrificial lambs — not exactly a profile in courage. A few lines in the story: “McConnell’s leadership team has taken the safe route by opposing these bipartisan proposals… Some think the leadership is ducking the tough votes and allowing the rank-and-file to shoulder the burden.”
But Politico‘s Raju isn’t Cruz’s only punching bag. The senator also takes several swings at the WSJ and one big one at something Woodward said on one of the Sunday shows.
“Of all the friendly media outlets for GOP leadership, none is more potent than the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. …Whenever congressional leadership is particularly exercised on a topic, it usually takes about seventy‐two hours for the Journal edi‐ torial page to unleash that same attack in the most important space in journalism.”
What seems to irk Cruz most is when media reports negatively impact his bank account.
“As intended, this double [WSJ] hit in the press had its effect—especially in the business and donor community. It was here where I made a mistake—I didn’t realize how effective the media attacks, especially in the conservative media, would be. Over and over again, I had to explain myself to people who usually were on our side, especially because the attacks from supposed Republican allies often inverted what was actually happening.”
The senator grew absolutely incensed when Woodward appeared on TV and said, “Mitch McConnell thinks that Cruz is literally the most selfish senator he’s ever seen.”
Watch how many times Cruz uses the word “selfish.” (The boldings are mine.)
“There was almost a Freudian projection at work here. It seems to me that the ‘selfish‘ thing for me to have done would have been to go along to get along: go to the Washington parties, raise money, stay in office for life, and never rock the boat. Who in their right mind would ‘selfishly‘ choose to endure the vilification, the personal and nasty attacks? In the curious lexicon of Washington, what is perceived as ‘selfish‘ is doing what you said you would do: honoring your commitments to your constituents. Because, I suppose, that selfishly makes it uncomfortable for others who do not wish to do the same.”
Cruz must be an angel. He said he never plays the game and never plants nasty stories about his colleagues.
“The typical Washington response would be for me to fight back, to fight fire with fire. To insult my colleagues, to plant nasty sto ries and give anonymous quotes smearing those on the other side. But I’m not willing to play that game. It’s wrong, and it’s not what Texans elected me to do.”
Lawmakers like Cruz attacking the media are a dime a dozen. After awhile it becomes pretty meaningless.