Friday, July 17, 2009

Now THAT'S building a coalition

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 9:24 AM

I'm kicking myself for letting the Post-Gazette's "Early Returns" blog get this one first, but guess who is one of liberal Democrat Joe Sestak's biggest contributors?

None other than Richard Mellon Scaife:

The Tribune-Review publisher and donor to conservative causes gave Sestak the full amount allowed by federal law -- $4,800 -- in his all-but-official Democratic primary run against ex-Republican Arlen Specter.

Which means Dick Scaife is now backing a candidate also endorsed by  the Daily Kos. 

File this as example #3,417,084 of the truism about politics and bedfellows. What's going on, of course, is that Scaife despises Specter. In recent months, Scaife's editorial-page minions have repeatedly shown the publisher's desire to oust him.

Much of the current animus is being driven by Specter's party-switch. But the animosity is much older than that. Back in 2001, for example, we were treated to this story, courtesy the Post-Gazette and the now-defunct Brill's Content magazine: 

Another former Tribune-Review employee, Lynne Margolis, told the magazine she was discouraged from writing about U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Philadelphia, because he had voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.

When Specter chaired a Senate subcommittee hearing on breast cancer four years ago, Margolis told the magazine, editors removed all reference to Specter from her story.

"They took out all the references to the guy that organized the hearing," Margolis told the magazine.

The conventional wisdom here, I guess, would be that Scaife is backing Sestak because he thinks the lesser-known Sestak would be easier to beat in the general election. Scaife has a track record of such behavior: He penned a fawning column about Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential primaries, at a time when conservative Republicans were hoping she'd win the nomination because they thought she'd be easier to beat. And in fact, the Trib has alredy been falling all over itself to praise the likely Republican contender, former Congressman Pat Toomey.

But when you've got a paper using a story about breast cancer to settle political scores, I think, you're talking about a level of animosity that transcends political gamesmanship. I get the feeling that  while Scaife and Co. would like Toomey to win, they really want to be sure Specter loses



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