Mike Huckabee, a likely 2012 GOP presidential candidate, today lashed out at lazy reporters and news outlets that heralded a Mother Jones story that the former Arkansas governor says falsely accuses him of destroying his official gubernatorial documents as he prepared to run for president in 2008.
"What I don't understand is how the supposed 'legitimate' press is used for pawns by Mother Jones, Media Matters, and other partisan organizations and how they could use material from sources like that without doing their own fact checking," says Huckabee of outlets that linked to Mother Jones's story on his missing records and computer hard drives.
And he's no fan of the liberal Mother Jones. "As far as I know, it doesn't pretend to be a real news outlet, but a highly polarized opinion-driven vehicle for all things to the far left," Huckabee adds. "I can't fault them for doing what they do. You expect that wolves will eat meat."
In their story, Mother Jones writes: "There's a Mike Huckabee mystery that won't go away. Send a public records request seeking documents from his 12-year stint as Arkansas governor, as Mother Jones did recently, and an eyebrow-raising reply will come back: The records are unavailable, and the computer hard drives that once contained them were erased and physically destroyed by the Huckabee administration as the governor prepared to leave office and launch a presidential bid."
Huckabee, who tops several Republican presidential preference polls, says that charge is a lie. He tells our Suzi Parker: "The absurd insinuation that my office 'destroyed' state records or that records are 'missing' is the same old political canard that was attempted years ago and failed then for the same reason it will fail now—it's factually challenged." He adds, "This would be a laughable smear campaign except that it appears that few journalists are doing the legwork to get the real story from objective sources."
At issue are gubernatorial hard drives that were wiped clean. The magazine suggests a sinister motive. But Huckabee says everything was done on the up-and-up. "Those hard drives were removed and replaced at a cost of just over $13,000 which our office paid for out of our transition budget so there would be no cost incurred by the incoming administration. Reports that the state spent over $350,000 on new computers were solely because the new governor wanted all new equipment, even though the existing hardware was operable and modern. That decision had nothing to do with my administration and amazingly was never questioned or investigated by the 'in the tank' Capitol press corps," he says.
What's more, he adds, "Even a frivolous lawsuit filed over this was dismissed with a thud because we carefully and meticulously followed state law and practices with the official records (which were properly filed with the Secretary of State or left for the incoming governor) and my personal papers and articles donated to the archives of my alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University."
This isn't a new issue in Arkansas. Former President Bill Clinton's gubernatorial papers have been unavailable for years. An Arkansas law allows governors to take their papers with them when they leave. Huckabee donated his to Ouachita, but the college has yet to process them.