I just got off the phone with Matt Campbell of the Blue Hog Report a few minutes ago. The good news is that things are looking better than what we had feared. The better news is that the Republican argument that Matt had used time at the office (he works for the state supreme court) to do his blogging is proving to be unfounded. The best news is that I am more confident than ever that this will blow up all over the Arkansas Republican Party by the time it is through.
Apparently, the Republicans got everything from Matt’s employers that they asked for and that they were entitled to. They found nothing. So they wanted his personal emails, which under an FOIA request they’re not entitled to. They didn’t get it. So now they’re going after Matt’s blogging buddy, Jeff Woodmansee, hoping to find something there. They won’t. Matt almost didn’t take the Blue Hog Report down, knowing it would look bad if he did, but he did it for the time being as a precaution, nothing more. When all is said and done here, Republicans are going to walk away with jack shit, and their true colors will be fully exposed.
Let’s recap for a bit. Matt was really raising hell, exposing Republican scandals, digging up things that were seriously undermining the Republicans. My guess he was getting close to something big, and they wanted to stop that. So the Republicans went after him, and as Jason Tolbert wrote last night it’s obvious that members of the party met with members of the Secretary of State’s office, possibly about this very issue. They’re saying they wanted to make sure that no one was doing politikin’ on government time and dime, but if that was the case they’d have looked into Alice Stewart after she started running her mouth. It’s the same hypocrisy we saw with the state car scandal all over again. The big question now is, did Mark Martin have a hand in this. If he did, this becomes a matter of a politician under fire trying to get a state employee fired as retribution. Hopefully, a good reporter will start asking that question soon.
Meanwhile, after blasting the Republican Party last night, the Tolbert Report has mysteriously vanished. A lot of folks are speculating that it’s out of solidarity, but no official word yet. I’ll say this though, if that’s the case, I will never say a bad thing about Jason Tolbert again and that’s a promise. Also, if that’s the reality of it, then it’s a sign of just how bad this is going over for the Republicans. Jason was their best messenger in the blogosphere and the only one of the right wing bloggers in Arkansas that was successfully shaping the narrative at this point. If they pissed him off as much as it seems, they really shot themselves in the foot.
That all said, the severity of this whole fiasco is enormous. If the Republicans can do this kind of gestapo tactic to try and silence its critics on the left, then others can do the same, to all of us, regardless of political stripes. So I’m thinking it’s time for bloggers in Arkansas, all bloggers, regardless of partisanship or lack thereof, to find a way to come together and look out for each other. This kind of behavior exercised by anyone isn’t good for democracy, for basic freedoms, for government accountability, or for an open society, and if it’s not stopped it will only get worse. As Ben Franklin once quipped, if we don’t hang together we will all hang separately. What would that kind of banding together look like? At this point, I have no idea, but I think it needs to happen in some shape, form, or fashion.
Oh, and apparently, on right wing blog apparently thinks that my post from last night suggests that this whole thing has made me come “unhinged.” I take great offense at that. It’s a well known fact that I became unhinged long before I even started blogging and I would appreciate it if the folks at Red Arkansas Blog (imitation is the highest form of flattery) corrected the record to say as much.