Mother Jones released leaked audio Tuesday from a campaign meeting of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) revealing political campaigns actively research and discuss ways to attack their opponents.
The audio was about 14 minutes of conversation between McConnell and close advisers on the potential vulnerabilities of Ashley Judd, the liberal Hollywood actress who flirted with the idea of running against McConnell in the 2014 Kentucky Senate race.
However, the Mother Jones “scoop” elicited a collective yawn from jaded Beltway media.
“Mitch McConnell discussed the likely vulnerabilities of a possible opponent?” snarked Slate’s Dave Weigel. “He’s history’s greatest monster.”
Judd Legum, editor of the liberal ThinkProgress blog, said, “From my experience, this is an incredibly tame oppo convo.”
“Just sayin: Are we supposed to be scandalized by oppo research?” asked NBC’s Mike O’Brien. “You think every campaign (D or R) doesn’t research stuff like mental health?”
“Nothing in this McConnell piece sounds any worse than a normal campaign meeting,” Hill reporter Sam Baker said.
“HUGE David Corn scoop,” wrote the Weekly Standard’s Michael Warren. “Mitch McConnell secretly planned to … campaign against a potential opponent?”
“While the tape isn’t particularly flattering to the McConnell campaign, it seems like standard opposition research,” wrote the Washington Post.
The McConnell campaign quickly condemned the tape and raised the possibility its office had been bugged.
“We’ve always said the left would stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters are above and beyond,” said McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton.
“Sen. McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings,” Benton said. “Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Sen. McConnell’s campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee also called on Democratic groups to apologize for the audio. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee called on McConnell to apologize in response.
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