Jindal is digging the hole deeper

I found a story on DK the night of Governor Bobby Jindal’s Republican response that seemed to suggest that Jindal wasn’t in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The story was picked up by TPMPolitico’s Ben Smith noted the blog chatter and asked the Governor’s office for clarification. Governor Jindal’s office released this response:

It was in the days following the storm. Sheriff Lee was a hero who worked tirelessly to rescue those in danger, and he didn’t take kindly to bureaucrats getting in his way.

Really? Well, this clears up everything. We are sorry for… Wait a minuteWhat?  TPM has the rest of the story and the governor’s office does absolutely nothing to help the governor out of this trap.

From TPM:

Instead, they went back to Smith, now telling him, in Smith’s words, that Jindal “didn’t imply” on Tuesday that the story “took place during the heat of a fight to release rescue boats.” (Take 30 seconds to read Jindal’s actual words, and you’ll see that’s flatly untrue — but no matter.) Rather, Jindal spokeswoman Melissa Sellers told Smith, “It was days later .. Sheriff Lee was on the phone and the governor came down to visit him. It wasn’t that they were standing right down there with the boats.”

Smith added:

She said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, “was doing an interview” about the incident with the boats when the governor described him yelling into the phone.In other words, Jindal only heard from Lee later that this had happened. He didn’t actually see it happening and played no role in it himself. We posted a few hours ago, noting that Jindal’s office had admitted the story was false.

But then things got weirder: Jindal’s people went back for yet more.

Smith soon posted an update explaining that he had misunderstood Sellers earlier. According to Teepell, Smith now wrote, rescue efforts were in fact still underway when Jindal met with Lee. And Jindal overheard Lee yelling on the phone to justify a decision he had previously made, not giving an interview about the episode, as Sellers’ earlier version had had it.

In fact, that whole thing about Jindal overhearing Lee giving an interview? It’s now gone from Smith’s post (though, thanks to the dangers of syndication, it remains here) as if Jindal’s office never said it.

There’s more. Amazingly, Sellers then argued to Smith that there is no difference between Jindal’s original story as told Tuesday night, and the one her office finally settled on this afternoon. And even more amazingly, Smith added another update in which he transcribed that argument without comment, as if it were reasonable.

Then the capper: With Jindal’s office now satisfied with the third iteration of its story — a version that clearly acknowledged that the first version, told Tuesday night to millions, was false — Teepell went back to Smith with the following comment:

“This is liberal blogger B.S. The story is clear.”

And Smith, in yet another update, published it.

Good work all round!

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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