Wednesday July 18th Update: ABC News has now picked up this story!
Like several other bloggers I posted the “Rudy Giuliani- Real Balls” YouTube video several days ago. Later on, I was contacted by somebody whom I assumed was a reader that seemed to have some more details about the situation.
I was then in contact with that tipster for several days while researching the matter further, and during that time, I became pretty near convinced that the firm Stevens, Reed, Curcio & Potholm (which was responsible for 2004′s Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads) were responsible for this new series of mock Giuliani ads. Among the pieces of evidence, (or more appropriately “evidence”) which the tipster and I discovered were the following:
- The YouTube videos were posted by a 24 year old with the username abrad2345 (which at the time seemed an obvious abbreviation of Amy Bradford, one of SRCP’s employees)
- They were disseminated very quickly after they were posted by a 24 year old on MySpace who registered last December with the name A. Bradford, who seemingly lied on her profile about where she originally found the videos. (I noted in my original blog post: “I saw [this ad] on the National Review Corner blog, but then I found out that it played on the liberalista blogs like Wonkette, too,â€ Bradford wrote. Bradford was distributing the ads online as early as July 4th, shortly after they were first posted to YouTube. A review of The National Review Onlineâ€™s The Corner blog finds that it did not post the first ad until two days later, on July 6th (the second ad was posted on the 9th). Wonkette did not post either of the ads until July 5th.)
- The MySpace user listed their location as Alexandria, Virginia and her employer as “SRCP, US.”
- Stevens, Reed, Curcio & Potholm (commonly abbreviated as SRCP) are based in Alexandria, Virginia
- Several other details on the MySpace profile seemed to match up with what Ms Bradford’s biography page on SRCP’s website
So, with this in mind, and coupled with other research I had done about SRCP, I wrote a post titled “Exclusive: â€œSwift Boatâ€ Ad Firm Linked to Viral Videos.”
Despite being personally damn-near convinced that Ms Bradford (if not her employer) was behind the videos, I knew that it would be irresponsible to report what I thought to be true- as straight fact. As such, I tried to write the post in such a manner as to leave the possibility that I could be wrong about all of these things I believed to be facts, and that they could be all coincidences (the lede of my post read: “An employee of the Republican ad firm responsible for 2004â€™s controversial â€œSwift Boat Veterans for Truthâ€ advertisements has apparently been producing viral videos which ridicule Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.”) Obviously I could have done a better job at this.
After I published that item, which contained both information I knew to be true, and also information I merely believed to be true, it got some attention. Today, I got an email from the DC law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP, which represents SRCP. They were worried that I had published inaccurate information, and wanted me to remedy the situation.
“The thing is complete BS,” David All of Tech Republican reported an SRCP source as saying earlier today. “That person and the account is not my firm’s employee (it’s a fake). We’re trying to figure out who created the account and myspace page. Lawyers are involved. It’s disgusting.”
“We strongly urge you to cease distribution of all content furthering from these false assertions,” a letter I was sent from their law firm said. “The business reputation and professionalism of SRCP is being challenged in a way that causes irreparable damage unless you act immediately.”
Naturally I replied to them, and said that I would take immediate steps to ensure that their denial was printed and that in light of their denial, I would no longer stand by the assertions I made in the original post (all of which I have now done, in addition to other steps to try and limit the reach of potentially inaccurate information). I have not yet heard back from Dickstein Shapiro, and when and if I do, I will take whatever measures are appropriate.
I want to stress that I have and will in the future try to be as transparent as possible, as I consider openness to be a pillar of good blogging.
I made some mistakes- perhaps most importantly not being more skeptical of a source who in hindsight seemed to have all the right information at all the right times. If indeed it turns out that I’ve been taken for a ride by the person who was helping me with the research, then it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a reporter– or even a lowly blogger– was taken advantage of.
So, do I think that SRCP was involved with the YouTube ads? I honestly don’t know what to believe anymore, but I am taking what SRCP says in good faith. Is there more to this story? Absolutely. And you better believe I’ll be looking into it and covering it, though in a very careful manner. Let’s just say that I have no desire to become famous for being “the blogger who the Swift Boat ad firm sued.”
Oh, and P.S.- the ever-mysterious abrad2345 has posted a new video: