It seems we just got round two with Ron Paul on CNN, again being asked about those 20-year-old racist newsletters that were published in his name. Ali Velshi pushed him on the topic this Tuesday morning. This time around, it was Gloria Borger repeatedly asking Paul about the newsletters until he finally decided he had enough of it and walked off the set with her.
As noted in our previous post here, Ron Paul's taking fire from all sides on this, but given the fact that he's rising in the polls in some of the early primary states, I'm not sure how Paul thought he was going to avoid answering questions about those newsletters, especially given his past associations with groups like Stormfront and The John Birch Society. Here's more from our own David Neiwert from his blog, Orcinus from back in 2007 on Paul's brand of right wing extremism and with more on those newsletters and what was in them. Here's a portion of that post:
And it's equally important to understand that he hasn't changed his beliefs appreciably in the interim. Most of his positions today -- including his opposition to the Iraq war -- are built on this same shoddy foundation of far-right conspiracism and extremist belief systems, particularly long-debunked theories about the "New World Order," the Federal Reserve and our monetary system, the IRS, and the education system.
The same is generally true, I think, of Ron Paul. While I think the evidence that Paul is incredibly insensitive on racial issues -- ranging from a racially incendiary newsletter to his willingness to appear before neo-Confederate and white-supremacist groups -- is simply overwhelming, it isn't as simple to make the case that he is an outright racist, since he does not often indulge in hateful rhetoric -- and when he has, he tries to ameliorate it by placing it in the context of what he thinks are legitimate policy issues. (Hansen, Symms and Chenoweth were also skilled at this.)
To be fair, Paul has written on the subject of racism and seemingly denounced it. But take a close look at his argument [...]
This is, in fact, just a repackaging of a libertarian argument that multiculturalism is the "new racism" -- part of a larger right-wing attack on multiculturalism. This is, of course, sheer Newspeak: depicting a social milieu that simultaneously respects everyone's heritage -- that is to say, the antithesis of racism -- as racist is simply up-is-down, Bizarro Universe thinking.
If Paul's express views on racism are less than convincing, then the piece that appeared under his name in 1992 about black crime, as reported by the Houston Chronicle, was simply damning. The ugly smear intended by the rhetoric in that case was unmistakably racist. Paul has since claimed it was ghostwritten and he wasn't paying enough attention, but that doesn't explain why he continued to defend those views to a reporter four years later, in 1996 [...]
What Paul never explained was that one of the primary sources for this information about black crime came from Jared Taylor, the pseudo-academic racist whose magazine American Renaissance was at the time embarked on a long series of tirades on the subject (the June 1992 issue was primarily devoted to the subject; the statistic claiming that 85 percent of black men in D.C. have been arrested appears in the August issue), the culmination of which was Taylor's later book, The Color of Crime, which made similarly unsupportable claims about blacks.
This sort of unspoken dalliance -- an uncredited transmission of ideas, as it were -- takes place all the time with far-right politicos like Ron Paul. It's one of the reasons to be concerned about any traction they may actually gain within the mainstream.
Lots more there so go read the rest. The fact that the corporate media is finally starting to ask Paul about his views in interviews like the one above shows if nothing else, they apparently are taking his rise in the polls seriously. I expect we'll see them continue to push him on these newsletters for some time to come. They were published in his name. Saying he doesn't know what was in them doesn't let him off the hook for their content.
Transcript below the fold via CNN.
BLITZER: We're also seeing more movement in the volatile Republican presidential race, with less than two weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses. Ron Paul shoots to the top of the pack with 28 percent support in a new poll of likely GOP caucus goers. Paul is just 3 points ahead of Newt Gingrich, within the poll sampling error. Mitt Romney gets 18 percent in the Iowa state poll and Rick Perry, 11 percent.
Ron Paul under tougher scrutiny now that his poll numbers are climbing. Iowans are buzzing about the real possibility that Ron Paul might actually pull an upset win on January 3rd.
Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, spoke with Ron Paul just a little while ago -- I understand, Gloria, the interview got a little contentious. We've been asking about some news we -- you've been -- we had seen and have been asking about some newsletters that appeared under his name back in the '80s and '90s.
Gloria, today, you had a chance to press him on whether he was aware of some of those very controversial statements about issues like race.
BLITZER: What did he tell you?
BORGER: Well, Wolf, I know you've asked him about these newsletters. And today, I pressed him about whether he had actually read any of those newsletters that went out under his name.
Listen to what he said.
PAUL: Not all the time. Well -- well, on occasion, yes.
BORGER: And did you ever object when you read them and...
PAUL: Well, you know, we -- we talked about this twice yesterday at CNN.
Why don't you go back and look at what I said yesterday on CNN and what I've said for 20 something years.
It was 22 years ago?
I didn't write them. I disavow them. That's it.
BORGER: But you made money off of them?
PAUL: I was still practicing medicine. That was probably why I wasn't a very good publisher, because I had to make a living.
BORGER: But there are reports that you made almost a million dollars off of them in -- in 1993.
PAUL: No. Who -- I'd like to share -- see that money.
BORGER: So you read them, but you didn't do anything about it at the time?
PAUL: I never read that stuff. I never -- I've never read it. I came -- I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written. And it's been going on 20 years, that people have pestered me about this. And CNN does it every single time. So when...
BORGER: Well, it's a legitimate...
PAUL: -- are you going to wear yourself out?
BORGER: I mean wouldn't you say it's a -- no, but, you know...
PAUL: When are you going to do that?
BORGER: Is it legitimate?
I mean is a legitimate question to ask that something...
PAUL: Yes, it is. And when you get the an...
BORGER: Went out and it was your name?
PAUL: And when you get the answer, it's legitimate that you sort of take the answers I give. You know what the answer is, I -- I didn't read -- write them. I didn't read them at the time. And I disavow them. That is the answer.
BORGER: Well, it's just a question -- I mean it's legitimate. It's -- it's legitimate. These things are pretty incendiary, you know, the race -- I...
PAUL: That's because of people like you.
BORGER: No, no, no, no. Come on.
BORGER: Some of the stuff was very incendiary. And, you know, saying that in -- in 1993, the Israelis were responsible for the bombing of the World Trade Center and that kind of stuff.
BORGER: All right. All right.
Thank you, Congressman.
I appreciate your answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing, sir?
BORGER: I appreciate your answering the questions and you understand it's our job to ask them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It seems like Ron Paul got tired of talking about it, Gloria. It's a...
BLITZER: -- it's a tough series of questions you asked him, but you obviously had to ask him.
BORGER: Well, I did have to ask them. He clearly thinks it's irrelevant. He thinks it's been asked and answer, that these newsletters went out over 20 years ago. And he said he had nothing to -- nothing to do with them. So it's clearly a question he'd rather not be asked.