First, ABC News reported earlier this week that a staffer in Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) office received an email that was not intended for him. The email from a “Senate Republican leadership aide” showed the minority leader’s office was intently tracking the smear campaign well before it had gained widespread attention:
“This is a perverse distraction from the issue at hand,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, D-Nev. “Instead of debating the merits of providing health care to children, some in GOP leadership and their right-wing friends would rather attack a 12-year-old boy and his sister who were in a horrific car accident.”
Manley cited an e-mail sent to reporters by a Senate Republican leadership aide, summing up recent blog traffic about the boy’s family. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Manley’s charge that GOP aides were complicit in spreading disparaging information about Frosts.
Today, the New York Times adds more to the story, reporting that Sen. McConnell’s office was preparing to issue a press release to attack the Frost family, but pulled back once the progressive blogosphere revealed the malicious campaign:
Republicans on Capitol Hill, who were gearing up to use Graeme as evidence that Democrats have overexpanded the health program to include families wealthy enough to afford private insurance, have backed off, glad to let bloggers take the heat for attacking a family with injured children.
An aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, expressed relief that his office had not issued a press release criticizing the Frosts.
Christy Hardin Smith writes, “Is anyone in the media going to actually dig into this and find out how involved the McConnell oppo shop has been in all of this?”
UPDATE: Carpetbagger notes Mrs. Frost’s reaction to the smear campaign: “The nastiness caught me by surprise.”
UPDATE II: Politico reports:
Republican congressional offices say they had nothing to do with the investigative reporting work of the conservative bloggers. But at the same time, they did nothing to distance themselves from the byproduct of that work. ‘We’re clearly going to promote the truth and show Democrats didn’t do their research’ into whether the Frost family should be receiving subsidized health care, said one Senate GOP aide. ‘We’re going to ride this story.’”