Skip to comments.The MD4Bush Saga - A Primer
Posted on 11/04/2005 5:54:02 AM PST by conservative in nyc
Who is MD4Bush?
MD4Bush was an infrequent poster on Free Republic from 10/07/04 to 02/08/05, usually discussing Maryland politics. All of MD4Bush's public posts are available here. In an apparent attempt to bait FReeper NCPAC (now known as former Republican Maryland Governor Ehrlich staffer Joe Steffen) into incriminating conversations, MD4Bush spread rumors of Democrat Baltimore Mayor Martin OMalley's infidelity, called Democratic Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski a "lezbo", and discussed the alleged tactics of Karl Rove.
The February 2005 Old vs. New Media Wars
A battle was brewing between the Old and New Media in February 2005. Bloggers pressured CNN to fire its chief, Eason Jordan, who had publicly accused the U.S. military of deliberately targeting journalists in order to assassinate them. The Old Media pressured Talon News White House Correspondent Jeff Gannon to quit his New Media reporting gig. And the MD4Bush affair exploded right here on Free Republic.
The MD4Bush Scandal: February 8-9, 2005
In 02/08/05 packed news conference before the National Press Club, Democrat Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley stuck his foot in his mouth, likening President Bush's proposed budget cuts to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Later that day, someone logged on MD4Bush's account and publicly posted previously PRIVATE FReepmails from Steffen to MD4Bush on Free Republic. The poster of these one-sided FReepmails underlined Steffen's most provocative comments.
The next morning, the Washington Post ran a front page story originally entitled O'Malley Blames GOP Plot For Rumors (later headline: Ehrlich Aide Ousted Over O'Malley Rumors), which detailed the underlined FReepmail content posted on the public forum and outed Steffen as NCPAC. A story about Mayor O'Malley's gaffe was buried on page A5. The Washington Post reporter on the MD4Bush story, Matthew Mosk, interviewed the OMalley camp about the rumors (who accused Ehrlich "agents" of "spreading false rumors" on Free Republic) and reported that Ehrlich had accepted Steffens resignation. In fact, the O'Malley infidelity rumors predated any Free Republic post about them and were widespread. The rumors posted on USENET, other Internet websites, including dcrtv.org mailbag, and in the March 10, 2000 edition of the Washington Post.
In the ensuing weeks, the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, New York Times and other local and national news organizations ran numerous stories about the MD4Bush affair. You can find some of those articles here and here. Most of these articles described Steffen as a self-described "Prince of Darkness" engaged in a dirty trick campaign to spread rumors about the Democrat Mayor of Baltimore, tasked by a Republican governor the to fire "innocent" state employees.
A few months later, the Maryland General Assembly formed a special panel to investigate the alleged unfair firing practices of at-will employees by the Ehrlich administration based on the dirty tricks methods of Steffen. When the committee was convened, Ehrlich Chief Counsel Jervis Finney and Republican legislators suggested it look in to the postings of MD4Bush to balance their view on Steffen, but he and the Maryland Republicans were rebuffed when the committee decided not to grant subpoena power to committee Republicans.
Recent Developments: Unmasking MD4Bush?
This week, as the House voted down a law that would exclude Bloggers and other New Media entities from potentially stifling campaign finance reform laws, WBAL radio in Baltimore reported that MD4Bush may be Ryan ODoherty, the former research and communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party. Ryan O'Doherty purportedly sent an e-mail on 02/08/05 (prior to the Washington Post's article). Below is the content of the "Big Story" e-mail, which was attached to a letter from Finney to the Special Committee:
There will be a big story in the Post either tomorrow or Thursday that credits Gov. Ehrlich's staff for creating and spreading the nasty and untrue rumor about our Mayor and his family," the e-mail reads. It goes on to mention a top O'Malley aide who "asked me to contact you to see if you could show your disgust by calling into WBAL Radio after the story hits ... it is top secret!
I voted for Ehrlich because I thought he would get rid of the culture of corruption and assassin politics of Annapolis -- he has only made it worse. He should be ashamed of the dirty smear campaign perpetuated by his own staff. It disgusts me to know that my tax dollars paid for this filth.
This will be the biggest story of the year. Thanks for your help.
In an e-mail to WBAL Radio, Ryan ODoherty denied he drafted the 02/08/05 "Big Story" e-mail:
Through news outlets over the course of several months, I have learned of the content of this alleged e-mail, and I can say without a doubt that I did not write it. In fact, I did not work for the Democratic Party at the time the e-mail was allegedly sent and I'm even told that my e-mail address shown on the document is incorrect. I'm disappointed someone is circulating a document without bothering to verify its authenticity.
While the FEC has no record of payments made by the Maryland Democratic Party to Ryan O'Doherty in 2005, he was on the party's payroll in 2004. A Google-cached press release from January 9, 2005 lists Mr. O'Doherty as the contact person. And the Washington Post referred to Mr. O'Doherty as being "of the Maryland Democratic Party" on January 23. Even if Mr. O'Doherty was not officially working for the Maryland Democratic Party on February 8, it is not known whether his mddems.org e-mail account was active.
However, questions are still lingering about the Maryland Democratic Party and Washington Post's role in the deception. On 02/11/05 Freerepublic owner Jim Robinson wrote:
I've got some very interesting information for the governor's investigation regarding the Maryland Democrat Party dirty trickster that setup Steffen and the Washington Post
reporter er, Democrat operative that was working in concert with him. Almost hoping to receive a subpoena.
Which begs the question: Who was the Washington Post reporter that colluded with MD4Bush? The Washington Post responded through Maryland editor R.B. Brenner in a 11/02/05 article:
Brenner said, "The Washington Post had no involvement in any way in the chat room postings" between Steffen and MD4BUSH. "The Post did not know about them until after they had already occurred, as we have reported."
Brenner said The Post does not know the identity of MD4BUSH, which the newspaper also has reported.
Post reporter Matthew Mosk received printed copies of the message exchanges last fall, Brenner said. To verify they were authentic, he said, Mosk was given sign-on information needed to view the private chat room by an intermediary acting on behalf of MD4BUSH in late January. Mosk used that information to verify that "the chat room messages were genuine," Brenner said. Mosk presented the printouts to Steffen in February to confirm that they represented his words.
The Posts piece raises more questions than it answers: Did Matthew Mosk collude with MD4Bush to get the Ehrlich administration and set up events that provided Maryland Democrats with the ammo they needed to seat a Committee that would burden the Governor during an election year? Is former Maryland Democrat Party Communications Director Ryan ODoherty MD4Bush? Is the "intermediary" his brother Damian ODoherty esq., chief advisor for Democrat Baltimore County executive Jim Smith? And who is the Steve in the BIG Story e-mail? Is Steve Jost of the Maryland Democrat Party or is it Steve Kearney, Communications Director for Democrat Mayor Martin OMalley? Or is the "Big Story" e-mail just a fraud?
Free Republic.com has called a press conference at 9:30AM today in front of the Washington Post building in Washington, D.C. to discuss the role of the Washington Post and Mayor O'Malley in the MD4Bush scandal.
Please also see Congressman Billybob and Dallas Mike's excellent posts for further discussion and analysis.
This National Review Online article by Stephen Spruiell also makes for good background reading (FR thread here).
me likie, good job.
Thanks for the ping. Maybe when this is over, this will be another center piece on FR's Home Page like the Rather/Mapes lies getting shredded by Buckhead and TankerKC.
Thanks- that is very helpful.
Great job. Thanks.
Great synopsis, thanks and bump.
Have you seen this?
FReeper NCPAC (now known as former Republican Maryland Governor Ehrlich staffer Joe Steffen)
This term is a bit confusing - I would re-word it as:
now known as Joe Steffen, onetime staffer to former Republican Maryland Governor Ehrlich
Thanks for the summary.
Unlike Dan Rather and Mary Mapes, I welcome any comments, corrections, additions or suggestions.
Many Thanks for posting this history summary. Congressman Billybob's comments were very insightful. In my personal view, the saga of MD4Bush points out the many legal complexities of running a discussion site. Free Republic offers the opportunity for infiltrators of all stripes to posture and pose in various roles. We all owe Jim Rob our profound thanks for hosting FR.
Well, if the MSM is reading:
Free Republic is a FORUM, not a Blog.
We're FReepers (or posters), not Bloggers.
There are no Blog entries here, only Posts (or Threads).
A FReepmail is not a chat. It's a PRIVATE message.
Bump for later..