Politicians aren’t the only ones who have to explain flip flops. Some purported journalists do as well.
GOP journo-activist Matt Mackowiak, who writes the Potomac Flaks website and is a former press secretary to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), is on the outs with fellow conservative writers in Washington these days. In Thursday’s Daily Caller, Alex Pappas took the blogger to the woodshed for bashing former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman while making inquiries this spring to work on his future presidential campaign. Pappas posted the contents of emails that Mackowiak sent to Huntsman aides.
Mackowiak tried to diffuse it the way many politicians do — in soundbites — explaining why he wanted to work for a campaign he soon objected to so vehemently. He reasoned to Pappas that Huntsman “doubled down on his moderate record,” and had “insulted conservatives.” He now declares Huntsman dead on arrival where the Oval Office is concerned.
When asked for reaction to the Daily Caller story, Mackowiak replied, “Oh good, must be a slow news day? Let me guess – you have critical blind quotes from Capitol Hill GOP operatives?” He demanded “direct answers” to his “questions” and then offered a non-response: “You are the first person to ask me how I feel about it.” When pressed for a coherent answer, he wrote, “I feel like I must have hit a nerve. It’s not personal. It’s analysis. Happy 4th!” He then sent FishbowlDC a full statement. See it after the jump…
Despite the oddities, bookers are paying attention. Mackowiak recently appeared on NBC’s Andrea Mitchell’s afternoon program on MSNBC. Unfortunately for the network, it was not disclosed that Mackowiak, who was on to discuss his pro-Texas Gov. Rick Perry views, had actually once been starkly anti-Perry, causing one GOP aide to wonder, “So do MSNBC bookers check the background of their guests before putting them on air? I know I’m not the only one in this town who remembers how he spent every day slamming Perry.”
Mackowiak’s attacks on Perry came in 2009. He said he has not said a single bad thing about him since January 2010.
Privately, conservative writers and aides mockingly refer to Mackowiak as “Republican strategist.” And yes, in quotation marks. They also say he’s not a Republican but rather a card carrying member of the “Party of Matt.” Oddly, and on a completely random side note, he is responsible for compiling the Sunday show listings in Politico Mike Allen’s Playbook. Why he is pronounced author of these listings is anyone’s guess — the networks routinely send these announcements late in the week and could easily be put together by a Kindergartener without assigning it to anyone outside a publication.
See Mackowiak’s statement and a time line on his Perry stance after the jump…
Statement from Mackowiak to FishbowlDC:
On Perry: “From April 2009-December 2009, I strongly supported my former employer in a primary against Gov. Perry. For me loyalty means a lot. Since January 2010, I have not criticized Gov. Perry once. There are several reasons for that. I began managing a congressional challenger campaign based in Texas, which meant in April my candidate and Gov. Perry were on the same ticket. But over 2010, as I was living full time in Texas for 11 months for the first time since I left in 2003, I quickly came to appreciate the way Texas was operating and admire Gov. Perry’s instincts, political skills and leadership. This year, my central focus has been identifying our strongest candidate to defeat Obama. I believe now that only Governor Perry can both win the nomination and defeat Obama. I will be strongly supporting him if he runs, and will encourage others to do so.”
On Huntsman: “My analysis that was published on NRO yesterday has not been disputed anywhere, not even by Huntsman’s operatives. I have been interested in several potential candidates, including Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels, and with Huntsman I sent a resume to them over 100 days ago to inquire, and never heard back. In the time that passed, I was appalled at the level of media coverage he received and puzzled by their fatally flawed campaign strategy to attack conservatives and promote ‘civility.’ Apparently they will be civil to Obama and personally attack people like me and Meg Whitman. I will continue to offer honest analysis of the 2012 presidential campaign, no matter who it bothers.”
Anatomy of a Mackowiak Flip Flop
Huffington Post, 2009: “Perry’s unyielding attacks on all things Washington may be politically popular, but in truth his rhetoric stands in stark contrast to his record, which shows that Gov. Perry repeatedly begs Washington, D.C. for help and surrounds his campaign with Beltway insiders….It’s not simply Perry’s governance that has a strong Washington reliance. Additionally perplexing is Perry’s hypocrisy in accepting significant financial support from D.C.-based donors and hiring campaign advisors who previously worked as Washington, D.C. insiders….The simple reality is that Gov. Perry’s rhetorical hatred of Washington, D.C. is neither honest nor credible.”
Twitter, 2009: @MattMackowiak “RETIRE RICK PERRY: Gov. Perry listed one spot ahead of #sanford of GOP Governors likely to be President.”
National Review, 2011: Governor Perry is uniquely positioned to win two of the first three Republican nominating contests (Iowa and South Carolina), unite the Tea Party and the Republican establishment, raise enough money to compete with Mitt Romney, and establish a narrative that contrasts well with President Obama’s. With Perry as governor, Texas has created more private-sector jobs than all other 49 states combined. This election will hinge on the economy, so there may be no better messenger….His campaign will be a grassroots effort, with major financial backing from the Tea Party, from wealthy donors throughout Texas, and from the major national donors he has cultivated over his eleven years as governor of the second-most-populous state….The man, the moment, and the opportunity have converged. Another moment such as this may never return.”
June 2011, MSNBC:
ANDREA MITCHELL: in the race for the republican nomination, the tea party wants an economic hawk, social conservatives want a fighter on prayer and abortion. supporters say that texas governor rick perry is both. we have a republican strategist and former press secretary to senator cay bailey hutchenson and just back from austin. great to see you. you worked for senator hutchison on the hill. you were not part of the campaign against rick perry. you’re not aligned with him. you don’t come from his camp. if you could take a step back at who is rick perry and what does he represent. tell us about him.
MATT MACKOWIAK: You’ve got to start by recognizing he’s governor of the second largest state for 11 years now. He’s won statewide election five times. I think he would unify social conservatives and the tea party. I think he would be a strong candidate in Iowa and South Carolina. If our republican primary voters are not wanting to see Mitt Romney be the nominee, I think you can make a case that rick perry is the strongest candidate the nominee. you have the remember the narrative in Texas is positive. job growth. He’s had a very successful session. Pro-life, border security, balanced the budget without raising Texas. He has a real record to run on. I think he’s probably the strongest candidate if he runs to defeat Romney for the nomination.