The New York Times has been fairly dogged in its pursuit of details regarding the Clinton Foundation "slush fund" -- with new questions about quid quo pro pocket-lining and influence-mongering arising virtually every single day. In the interests of scandal coverage balance, the Times is out with a red hot scoop about Marco Rubio and his wife. The question is not whether this is a game-changing bombshell. The question is whether this is merely disqualifying, or an impeachable offense:
...Politics is not the only area where Mr. Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has an affinity for the fast track. He and his wife, Jeanette, have also shown a tendency to be in a rush on the road. According to a search of the Miami-Dade and Duval County court dockets, the Rubios have been cited for numerous infractions over the years for incidents that included speeding, driving through red lights and careless driving. A review of records dating back to 1997 shows that the couple had a combined 17 citations: Mr. Rubio with four and his wife with 13. On four separate occasions they agreed to attend remedial driving school after a violation. Mr. Rubio’s troubles behind the wheel predate his days in politics. In 1997, when he was cited for careless driving by a Florida Highway Patrol officer, he was fined and took voluntary driving classes. A dozen years later, in 2009, he was ticketed for speeding on a highway in Duval County and found himself back in driver improvement school. Things got more complicated in 2011 when Mr. Rubio was alerted to the fact that his license was facing suspension after a traffic camera caught him failing to stop at a red light in his beige Buick. His lawyer, Alex Hanna, paid a $16 fee to delay the suspension and eventually it was dismissed.
Lest incredulous readers doubt the true scope of Rubio's shame, the Times helpfully links to PDF images of the couple's traffic citations. Game, set, match. I mean, the presidential candidate has been ticketed four times since 1997, gang. And his license might have been suspended if he hadn't paid a $16 fine. Look, presidential candidates -- especially serious ones -- should be thoroughly vetted by the Fourth Estate. A recent examination of a potentially-embarrassing real estate deal involving Florida's junior Senator wasn't out of bounds, for instance, even if it highlighted some media double standards. But the traffic infraction story is silly season stuff. Nobody, and I mean nobody, cares. Adding a special layer of silliness to this "controversy" is the manner in which the Times appears to have come by its exclusive, ahem, reporting. The Free Beacon seems to have them dead to rights here:
Records show that each of the citations mentioned by the New York Times were pulled in person by American Bridge operatives on May 26, 2015...Neither of the reporters, Alan Rappeport and Steve Eder, appeared on the docket records for any of the traffic citations for Rubio and his wife. An additional researcher credited in the New York Times, Kitty Bennett, also does not appear on any of the court records...None of the reporters involved responded to Washington Free Beacon requests for comment by press time. In a recent Times story that actually cited Democratic sources by name, Jeremy Peters reported that “A Hillary Clinton Match-Up With Marco Rubio Is a Scary Thought for Democrats.” So scary, indeed, that Democrats appear to be feeding opposition research to the Times.
American Bridge is a pro-Hillary Clinton Democratic attack group run by hatchet-man David Brock. I agree with Noah Rothman that it's not necessarily improper for media outlets to run with items fed to them by opposition research organizations. The fact that partisan researchers dug up relevant information doesn't disqualify the news value or validity of that information. But if it's not shoe-leather original reporting that unearths the story, a newspaper's audience probably ought to be informed of the provenance of that information. Plus, I'd add, this "scoop" is particularly frivolous in nature. Charles Cooke snarks:
To recap the scandals so far: Rubio bought a house that lost money. Rubio bought a fridge. Rubio has four traffic citations since 1993.— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) June 5, 2015
The refrigerator outrage, which came as conscience-shocking news to me, is mentioned in this story. Charles somehow let this unforgivable transgression slip his mind:
I'll leave you with two additional thoughts:
If Rubio would just go ahead kill someone with his bad driving, maybe they'll call him the "Lion of the Senate" someday.— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) June 5, 2015
Rubio has been ticketed four times since 1997. Hillary hasn't driven a car since 1996.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 5, 2015
UPDATE - Flashback to April (via a Twitter pal):
Democratic Presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton's security detail led a handful of journalists on two lengthy high-speed chases to homes of influential Democrats on Monday. Her lone official appearance on her first day in New Hampshire was a carefully stage-managed small-business roundtable in Keene. But a lunchtime visit to a main-street bakery and two more appointments later in the day were off-the-books and under the public's radar. If police radar had been engaged, however, it would have clocked Hillary's signature black conversion van - 'Scooby', for the uninitiated – hitting 92 mph in a driving rainstorm on Interstate 89, where the top speed limit is 65. No one in the motorcade displayed flashing lights or blasted a siren.
Don't bother asking Hillary about any of this either. Her inner thoughts are her interviews.