In what might be the strangest attempted 'opposition research' dump of the election cycle, the sports blog Deadspin published an item Wednesday evening accusing Colorado Republican Senate nominee of lying about having played high school football. The report, which was quickly exposed as absolutely false, didn't even attempt to conceal its authors' political agenda (content warning):
Breaking news: Politician makes shit up! For your consideration: Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and his football career. After nearly two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Gardner is trying to take his game to the next level by running for the Senate seat occupied by Democrat Mark Udall. The battle, pitting Gardner's homo-hatin' and climate-change-denyin' conservatism against Udall's Jesus-free liberal ways, has been too close to call….The Washington Post ran a long story about the campaign this week. Reporter Karen Tumulty opened the piece with a riff that had Gardner talking about his days playing high school football, and how the current opposition's campaign strategy reminds him of that experience….First: So, in high school, Gardner played both ways? No way, says Chuck Pfalmer, a now-retired Yuma High School teacher: "Cory Gardner wasn't on the football team." Everybody around Yuma (pop. 3,524) knows everybody around Yuma. Even when Gardner was a kid, folks around town saw him as somebody who was going to run for political office someday... Gardner, who graduated in 1993, never played in any of the Yuma games Pfalmer saw under the Friday night lights. Not at "fullback" or "middle linebacker" or anywhere else.
The online Left went bonkers with gleeful excitement. This was the game-changer they needed in the race! Gardner's been caught in an insignificant but embarrassing lie! And then came two tweets from the candidate himself, followed by a statement from his campaign spokesman. Boom:
"Cory Gardner played football from Junior High through Sophomore year in high school." It gets better. The Denver Post, whose editorial board attracted attention by endorsing the Republican last week, followed up on Deadspin's embarrassing hatchet job, and shredded it to pieces -- using Deadspin's own top source:
The main source for the story by the online site Deadspin — a former Yuma High School teacher who had Gardner as a student and kept football stats — says the report mischaracterized his comments. Gardner graduated from the Eastern Plains high school in 1993. In fact, says Deadspin source Chuck Pfalmer, Gardner played football his freshman through junior years in high school. "He was not a starter, but he played in those years," said Pfalmer, 77, who retired from the high school in 1997. Pfalmer's recollection contrasts starkly with the Deadspin story's headline: "Is A Colorado Senate Candidate Lying About His Football Career?" "That's a low blow about (Gardner)," Pfalmer told The Denver Post Wednesday afternoon. He had not yet seen Deadspin's story. "I'll tell you this: I'm proud to know him. He's a very intelligent man. I don't have nothing against him. He's one of my best students." The editor of Yuma's local newspaper also disputed the thrust of the Deadspin story. He's cited briefly in the story, though not by name.
Oops. Click through to read the former coach quote from an email he says he sent to the Deadspin reporter confirming that Gardner played high school ball, and even recorded several tackles during his career, which Gardner jokes was "unheralded." Good work, Deadspin. And bravo, cackling Democrats who pumped this story until it blew up in their faces. Gardner leads Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall by four points in the latest CNN poll. I'll leave you with this:
If you don't get the reference, read this post from 2010. Connecticut liberals elected a man who lied throughout his entire adult life about serving in Vietnam without batting an eye, and it wasn't even close. And the hyenas who were ready to crucify Cory Gardner over high school football are pleased as punch that Blumenthal is in the Senate.
UPDATE - A new Q-poll puts Gardner ahead by a touchdown.