TPM distances themselves from Chris Powers:
Powers has not been charged in the arson case. In a phone interview this morning with TPMmuckraker, Powers denied having any involvement with what local reports have described as a “fire bombing.”
“I’m innocent,” Powers said. “I was at home when Congressman Carnahan’s office was fired on. I have nothing to do with it.”
In the early morning hours of Aug. 17, someone broke a back window in Carnahan’s St. Louis campaign office and set a small fire, which caused minor damage in the office. Police arrested a suspect some hours later. They released him the next day, but have not divulged the suspect’s name. Police say it is up to the prosecutor’s office whether to issue a warrant; without it they can’t hold a suspect or release his name.
He says he didn’t, Carnahan says he did. Some lingering questions remain: who ID’d Powers as being the suspect? What of the rumors that he took a polygraph? If Powers did do it, was it because he was a disgruntled employee and lastly, if he was a disgruntled employee crazy enough to try to set a congressman’s office on fire, note that he worked as a canvasser. WTH kind of people are showing up on St. Louis doorsteps on behalf of the Carnahan campaign?
As several blogs have reported, Powers wrote a reader blog at TPMCafe under the name Ripper McCord. (Any TPM reader can create a blog and comment on the site, and Powers is not affiliated with TPM.)
Sure, that’s well and good, but this wasn’t a comments section, it was a reader blog hosted by TPM upon which TPM considered the content “affiliated” enough to (still) sell ads:
No, I don’t think TPM is liable or anything of the sort for the incident, rather, two other things come to mind:
1) If one of their bloggers wasn’t paid and is being framed by a congressman for a federal offense, you’d think they would come to his defense. If this is the case, I feel bad for the dude and this is just one more reason why there needs to be a federal investigation into this incident.
2) If Carnahan is correct and this is a case of a disgruntled employee, another Carnahan campaigner who has engaged in unlawful (Javonne Spitz, et al.) behavior while working for the campaign, then I think there is enough of a pattern to ask whether the campaigns selections of campaign workers are safe choices, not just for his campaign but the community as whole if these people are out there engaging voters. It’s also a reflection upon TPM for not condemning the actions of a writer who provides content, on which they sell ads, for them for free. Make the analogy between TPM not paying Powers and Carnahan allegedly not paying Powers yourself.
Regardless, it’s an incredibly bummer of a story any way you look at it. Who to believe?