Andrew Sullivan, whose defense of Ron Paul this week put H&R's to shame, catches Fox News accusing the candidate of "9/11 Truthism":
GIBSON: According to a recent Rasmussen Report poll, 35 percent of Democrats think President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand. The so-called 9/11 Truth Movement has already infected people like Rosie O'Donnell and one in three Democrats, and many other people, Americans evidently, including Congressman Ron Paul. With me now is FOX News contributor and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin.
So, Michelle, this stuns me. It wouldn't have stunned me had it come up in the Democratic debate, but it's a jaw-dropper to see it in the Republican debate.
MICHELLE MALKIN: It is and it doesn't belong here. And I'm glad that this moment provided great TV for FOX News — it was a very instructive exchange — but Ron Paul really has no business being on stage as a legitimate representative of Republicans, because the 9/11 truth virus is something that infects only a very small proportion of people that would identify themselves as conservative or Republican. And as you say, John, this is far more prevalent, this strain of 9/11 truth virus, on the left, and in much of the mainstream of the Democratic Party as that Rasmussen poll showed.
Paul never said that or anything like it at the debate. What's Malkin's evidence?
You know, I try not to spend too much time in these cesspools, but it is worth taking a visit to places like, you know, these WTC7 sites and Students and Scholars for Truth, and I note that Ron Paul has basically allied himself with these people. He appears with Students for Truth on campus and he's appeared on radio shows like 9/11 conspiracy nut Alex Jones.
Ron Paul has appeared on Alex Jones' show, but he has never appeared with "Students and Scholars for Truth" or "Students for Truth." Those groups don't actually exist. What Malkin is probably referring to is this incident three months ago, when members of Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth attended a Paul campaign appearence. Group leader Justin Martell buttonholed Paul and got him to admit that he 1) generally doesn't trust government accounts of things and 2) would sign on to a 9/11 investigation if Dennis Kucinich launched one. (He did question the Kennedy assassination: John Gibson, take notes!) Check out the video—it's pretty clear he's not sure what to think of the group.
And that's the only contact Paul has had with Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth. A Paul spokesman confirmed that for me, adding "he can not and will not screen individuals from coming to his public events. People come to Ron's events to support Ron Paul, but that does not mean Ron holds their views in any way." (I contacted Martell and I'll update the post if he claims otherwise.)
So what's Malkin's basis for telling the Fox News audience that Paul "appears on campus" with 9/11 conspiracy groups? If she can produce proof I'll retract this post and apologize. If she can't, she should retract that claim during her next Fox News appearance.
UPDATE: From Michael Jackman of Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth:
Our group met him once at an event. We would love to interview him more in depth at some point.
In other words, he has never appeared with or endorsed the group.
UPDATE II: Malkin responds:
Last week, on John Gibson's Fox News Channel show, "The Big Story," I was asked to comment on 9/11 conspiracy theorists and Ron Paul. Here's the video. In the segment, I referred to "Students and Scholars for Truth." The accurate name of the group I was referring to is "Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth." (There's a separate group called "Scholars for 9/11 Truth," which I've blogged about previously.) I also stated that Paul appeared on campus with Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth. This is incorrect. The incident I was referring to was an exchange that took place at a campaign house party, not during an on-campus joint appearance, as I mistakenly stated. I regret the errors and am forwarding this post to The Big Story producers so that they can air these corrections if they wish to do so.
Good for her. However, Malkin insists that Paul gave shady answers to Martell and implied "government cover-ups." She highlights him saying "too often investigations on almost any issue is usually a cover-up." Her position: "This has no place on the GOP presidential debate stage."
Malkin is trying too hard, and with too little evidence, to prove that Paul agrees with the Student Scholars. Early in the video they tell a drive-through window attendant that "9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by our own government." When Martell confronts Paul, he's careful not to say that. He says "we've heard that you have questioned the government's official account." He opens the door for Paul to claim a conspiracy behind 9/11. Paul never does.
So what's the evidence for Paul being a secret Truther? According to Malkin, it's that the Truth groups claim that Paul is a secret Truther. She quotes Student Scholars:
Ron Paul knows very well that something is very wrong with the official explanation of 9/11. However, like Dennis Kucinich he cannot look right into our cameras and proclaim "9/11 WAS A SELF INFLICTED WOUND!" Through acknowledging the legitimacy of the 9/11 Truth Movement's concerns, these candidates are expressing their support for our cause.
Note that it's Malkin, not Paul, who cites the Student Scholars as a credible source of information.
UPDATE III: As the thread continues to grow, probably worth pointing out that Paul has already named the culprits behind the 9/11 attacks. He did so at the GOP debate.
Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years.
In other words, Al Qaeda did it. Osama bin Laden did it. Paul's view is incompatible with the idea that "9/11 was a self-inflicted wound" or the towers came down in controlled demolitions.