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Last week, I repeatedly contacted staffers working for Congressman Ric Keller of Florida, by phone and email, to ask them for comment for a story I was working on. In the e-mails, I asked a number of very specific questions:
After waiting three days and getting no reply, I published the story and said that Keller’s office had declined to reply to requests for comment.
Now, though, Keller has responded to two stories by the Orlando Sentinel, which asked him about my account. In one, his staff said my piece was “loaded with fiction.” In another, Keller issued a statement that said, “Regrettably, one out of two marriages in this country end in divorce, and my first marriage didn’t work out . . . Any rumor or innuendo that there’s anything more to it is false and a cheap political stunt.” He called me a “discredited gossip blogger who just last week posted another false rumor accusing Hillary Clinton of having a lesbian affair with one of her staffers” and criticized me for using unnamed sources “with no personal knowledge of the situation” who alleged he’d had an affair. The statement, too, said my piece was “loaded with fiction.”
Yes, I posted two items  about the rumor that Hillary is having an affair with her staffer. As I wrote, it’s an idiotic, meritless rumor that people in other political camps are seeking to put forth in order to raise doubts about Clinton. But Keller ignored the substance of those articles, deciding to attack and smear the messenger instead of addressing the questions raised.
I didn’t report on Keller’s affair with the staffer on the basis of rumors, but on numerous interviews and by careful review of public records that turned out to square with what I was told. Only after much cautious research did I decide to write this story.
Keller says it’s all fiction, but doesn’t specify what’s false. Did he travel with the staffer? Did he pay her a $1,000 year-end bonus? How did she get the job with the fundraising firm, and what was her role and pay arrangement there? Is she still working at the firm, as was reported on his last financial disclosure report? These issues and others were simply unaddressed in the congressman’s reply.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”