It was like a train wreck. You didn't want to keep reading but you were compelled to keep on keeping on. The Twitter fight between Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's morning Joe and Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas was spread out over several hours in the early afternoon on Friday. Supporters and detractors of each man chimed in and it soon degenerated into a bloody mess. Halfway through the fracas, Joe blocked Markos but the messages kept coming at both men from third parties.
The incident started when Mr. Scarborough issued an attack on President Obama regarding the Sestak job offer. If you haven't been following this, Republicans are asserting that it was wrong for President Obama to offer, directly or indirectly, a job to Mr. Sestak during his Democratic US Senate nomination race against Arlen Spector. Scarborough tweeted:
@JoeNBC - The Sestak story is as unbelievable a cover story as Nixon throwing little Checkers under the bus. A farce on it's face. Luckily for the White House, the media has been negligent on this story since Day 1. The press will let this laughable story slide.
Markos Moulitsas is getting a bit of a reputation for being direct and confrontational. He once caused former Colorado representative Tom Tancredo to storm out of a David Schuster hosted segment on MSNBC because he raised the issue that Mr. Tancredo avoided military service by claiming he was too depressed to be drafted.
Moulitsas was in no mood for this issue to be raised about the Sestak job offer and decided to fire back at Scarborough using an internet rumor that has been circulating about Mr. Scarborough since his days as a US congressman from Florida:
@markos - Like story of a certain dead intern. RT @JoeNBC: Luckily for the White House, the media has been negligent on this story since Day 1.
If you aren't familiar with the story, a 28 year old intern who worked in Mr. Scarborough's office, Lori Klausutis, was found dead in the congressman's office one morning. If you google the name Lori Klausutis, you will find no shortage of websites that claim that she was murdered by Mr. Scarborough. There was an investigation and as the Washington Post reported:
"FORT WALTON BEACH, FL. - Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old office worker for Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fl), was found dead in the congressman's district office. Police said preliminary findings from the medical examiner's office showed no foul play or any outward indication of suicide."
There is every likelihood that the medical examiner was right and she died from fainting and hitting her head on a desk in the office late at night while no one else was there and thus was found dead the next morning.
There were also things that seemed odd. As many of us remarked at the time, Lori was a 28 year old runner and had had a physical exam not so long before she died. The investigation was remarkably swift and virtually no one said anything after a few days. Everything was wrapped up nice and tidy. You cannot even find a picture of Lori Klausutis on the web, at least not easily.
Let's assume that the official finding is the correct one because there is no evidence otherwise. Can you imagine the furor that would have erupted if Joe Scarborough had been a Democratic congressman? Actually, I think it is very easy to imagine this because of California congressman Gary Condit. One of Mr. Condit's interns, Chandra Levy, disappeared in May of 2001, only two months before Lori Klausutis died in Mr. Scarborough's office. Unlike the situation with Mr. Scarborough, the Condit/Levy incident blew up into a national scandal that played out in the media for years and we didn't know for sure if Chandra was dead or simply didn't want to be found. In fact, it wasn't until 2009 when another person was indicted for Chandra Levy's death that suspicion finally was lifted from Gary Condit. By that time, Condit had lost his congressional seat having lost a 2002 primary, the first ever election that he had lost.
By the way, in contrast with Lori Klausutis, there are several thousand pictures of Chandra Levy on the web. We feel sorry for her and are made to transfer some of that as anger toward Mr. Condit (at least until the real killer was found) but there are no pictures of Lori for us to raise any kind of feelings for her or what happened to her.
While it is true that a difference in the two situations was that Mr. Condit had admitted to an affair with Chandra Levy, its also true that there was literally a body found in Mr. Scarborough's office, i.e. the office of a sitting US Congressman. Like with Mr. Condit, had Joe Scarborough been a Democrat, regardless of whether any evidence pointed to his guilt, it would have been front page news for years and he would have been so tarnished by GOP innuendo that there is no way he would have landed the cushy and lucrative job at MSNBC.
Getting back to the Twitter fight between Moulitsas and Scarborough, the raising of the Lori Klausutis issue really upset Mr. Scarborough. Mr. Scarborough issued the following tweet several times:
JoeNBC Anyone in media who interviews @markos, know that you're extending your credibility to someone who regularly suggests that I'm a murderer.
And also said things like:
JoeNBC @markos What is wrong with you? Is the blood sport of politics really that important to you? You have my pity.
JoeNBC @markos Unbelieveable. You have a long history of spreading lies suggesting I am a murderer. This is the 3rd or 4th time by my count.
I hear you Joe and because you are almost certainly innocent, its not fair that someone should assert otherwise. The fact is, however, you are engaging in what I consider to be a minimally-analogous witch-hunt against President Obama for something that ought to be a non-issue and you aren't the only one doing it. The bulk of the party that you are/were associated with is doing it too. That might be the point that Markos was trying to raise in the inimitable way that he tends to do things.
It doesn't feel right that someone should raise red-herrings or what should be non-issues about you to make political points, does it? Maybe this embarrassing incident will help you get the message and will compel you to carry that message to your former colleagues in the GOP. I'm tired of the GOP talking about things like blow-jobs instead of jobs for the people of this country. We don't have time for this. Too many of your constituents are out of work.