Who is chanting ‘Go, Fred, go’?

fred thompsonThere are plenty of reasons to believe that an unnamed candidate could generate substantial interest in the Republican Party, particularly among the evangelical voters. The current crop of main tier candidates has been disappointing to them, and they are yearning for a candidate with whom they can fall in love. At least that’s the story line that journalists have been giving us lately.

The big unanswered question in every one of these stories about former Senator and Law & Order actor Fred Thompson potentially running for president is this: Who is asking him to leave his lucrative acting career for the rigors of a presidential race?

Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times wrote on May 3 that conservatives are clamoring for him to run for the GOP presidential nomination, with a link to the Draft Fred Thompson website as the primary support for that assertion. My last count found 4,235 posts in support of a Thompson run for the presidency. I’m underwhelmed.

The somewhat mysterious story of the clamoring “growing crowd of conservatives” yearning for the launch of a Thompson campaign became more mysterious Monday with a seemingly well-placed story in The Washington Times that quoted a number of unnamed “leading Christian conservatives” who say they would pledge their support for a 2008 Thompson presidential run. The key here is they are unnamed and this is The Washington Times:

“It’s not ‘if’ but ‘when,’ he will announce,” one Protestant evangelical leader says of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering for position in the 2008 race.

A prominent Roman Catholic social conservative says the three Republicans who have raised the most money and have led the polls — former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — fall short of social conservatives’ expectations, but Mr. Thompson doesn’t. “He’s right on the issues … He’s better than all of the above.”

Both the Protestant and Catholic activist, like other Christian conservatives, spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity.

Sources talk to reporters, especially in Washington, on “the condition of anonymity” all the time. Sometimes their words make it into print. Sometimes they don’t. Generally reporters should use them only to confirm a fact. And in those cases, you need at a bare minimum two sources to confirm it. In other words, what good does it do the reader if a reporter is using an anonymous source to say something will likely happen? Or just to spout off his or her opinion?

If you can’t attach your name to your prediction or don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything that you should expect a journalist to print. At least those are the rules in an ideal world. But The Times did print these speculations, and readers are left guessing who these sources are.

One thing we should be able to bank on is that the Catholic source is not Robert Novak, who would probably resent being described as an activist. But hey, that’s the fun of using anonymous sources, right? You can call Dick Cheney a “senior administration official.” Needless to say, Novak was underwhelmed by Thompson’s performance at a California Lincoln Club event.

Update: Peggy Noonan shares her thoughts in
The Wall Street Journal on the possibility of a Fred Thompson presidential run.

Print Friendly
  • Eric G

    I’m less than impressed by the article as well.

    And what I keep on wondering, especially after viewing the GOP debate the other night on Fox, is why the politically oriented evangelical leaders don’t coalesce around someone like Huckabee. He’s theologically one of their own, on the conservative side of the key social isses, and articulate. And I could see him appealing to Democrats as well (at least those who could stomach voting for an anti-abortion candidate).

    So why don’t we hear more about this candidate? Maybe reporters find it more interesting to write about a Hollywood star.

  • Jerry

    The Times is not the only one doing that. A search of Google News found, amongst other sites, http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/158771.aspx

    This reminds me of a set of commercials. First you try to get people interested by teasing them. We’re at that state now. So anonymous is the order of the day. This is, of course, intended to get free publicity. It’s much better than having to pay for air time. And he can build some suspense into the process. Will he or won’t he? Who are those mysterious people who really like him?

    Next we’ll get to hear who likes him. Can you hardly wait? Are you dying of curiousity to know who likes him? Are you at the edge of your seat and ready to run down to the store and buy, oops, I mean jump on the bandwagon?

  • http://www.paforfredthompson.blogspot.com WattsforVP

    With all due respect, your facts are incorrect.

    Fact 1 – There are over 24000 posts supporting Fred’s run. In addition, over 14000 people have signed the petition at draftfredthompson.com. At two other grassroots sights, there is a petition with over 12000 & another with close to 30000 (grassrootsvoter.com & fred08.com, respectfully)

    Fact 2 – In reference to the Times article, the people quoted were part of the CNP (Council for National Policy), and therefore can not disclose themselves because their bylaws state they would be banned by disclosing information from their meetings.

    If you are still underwhelmed, take this into consideration:
    Fred Thompson’s response to Michael Moore has garnered close to 1,000,000 (that’s right, 1,000,000) views since Tuesday afternoon’s debut.

    By the way, I don’t think Richard Land is insignificant in conservative circles. He is backing Fred Thompson, going as far as calling him the “Southern Fried Reagan”

    I’m sure when Sen. Thompson announces, you’ll find out just how many conservatives are backing him.

  • Tim of Angle

    ‘Who is chanting, “Go, Fred, Go”‘? Well, I am, for one.

    And Peggy Noonan explains why: http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110010089

  • Kathy Womack

    I agree with the post that your article is less impressive.

    I would love to see Fred Thompson run. Go Fred Go!!

  • Mr Elliott’s Son

    How’s supporting Fred?

    Well let me see…

    Bill Frist, Zach Wamp, Lamar Alexander, JC Watts, Gresham Barrett, Georgia Senate Leader Eric Johnson, Missouri Houlse Speaker Carl Bearden, Missouri Lt Gov Peter Kinder, Fred Barnes of Fox News, Tx state leaders Jerry Patterson, 58 of TX lawmakers, Victor Carrillo, Denise McNamara, TN lt gov Ron Ramsey, Penn house speaker Dennis O’Brien, Chattanooga Times, the rest of the state of Tennessee…

  • Larry Rasczak

    Source Terminology
    From AMERICA THE BOOK (by the writers of the Daily Show)
    pg 156.

    Source Terminolgy

    Sources Close to the Story = Other Reporters

    Highly Placed Source = Google

    A White House Spokesperson = overheard on line for the White House Tour

    Anonymous source = midnight phone call from Bob Novak

    Unconfirmed Report = something remembered from dream

    Source vaguely familiar with story = direct quote from President Bush

  • Stephen A.

    I, too would love to see Fred run. People just don’t know how many people would LOVE to see this happen, but those conservatives I talk to behind the scenes in politics are itching to get on board the Thompson Train.

    I must also say that this is also the most political, and least religion reporting-related thread EVER.

  • dpulliam

    WattsforVP,

    I do not see where you get 24,000 posts asking him to run for president. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place. Regarding the CNP, if you can’t disclose yourself for an article like this, then maybe you shouldn’t be saying anything at all? Or maybe reporters shouldn’t quote them without using their names? It’s not just my opinion. It’s pretty standard reporting rules.

    Fact 2 – In reference to the Times article, the people quoted were part of the CNP (Council for National Policy), and therefore can not disclose themselves because their bylaws state they would be banned by disclosing information from their meetings.

    As for Noonan’s column, it is quite good, but even she shows us that there are some unanswered questions:

    Most importantly for him, and for all the Republican candidates for that matter, Mr. Thompson will have to answer this question: What is he running to do? Why should the Republicans get another eight years, or four years, after all the missteps they’ve made? Isn’t conservatism, or Republicanism, or whatever you call it, just tired? Isn’t it over? Isn’t America just waiting for whatever will take its place?

    And as to Thompson’s supporters in Tennessee, more power to them. But their support is really not all that surprising.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    I’m taking wagers at 7 to 5 that the Roman Catholic is Paul Wyrich and the Protestat is Gary Bauer.

    I think the stories that need to be written are:

    1 – Why the press isn’t waiting for the Parties to go through their nominating process. Reagan didn’t become the 1980 overnight. He went through the primaries in 1976 and in 1980. He built his his presidential stature slowly.

    2 – Why aren’t conservative Protestnt Republicans rallying aroud Huckabee? Do they know something the rest of us don’t? Or does the country have southern governor fatigue?

  • Eric G.

    Why aren’t conservative Protestnt Republicans rallying aroud Huckabee? Do they know something the rest of us don’t?

    As I suggested earlier, that’s a question I also believe needs answering. We know many of the reasons why they have misgivings about Giuliani (abortion), Romney (flip-flopping Mormon) and McCain (who has been critical of the religious right in the past). And we know that some are looking carefully about what Romney stands for politically and deciding whether to forget his past.

    But I have yet to see an article anywhere (maybe one exists, but I haven’t seen it) about their hesitation toward rallying around Huckabee or Brownback, both of whom appear to be credible candidates, and I think Huckabee presents himself especially well. Theological differences? Not politically pure enough? Hidden pasts? I don’t know. But I’d like to.

  • http://watersblogged.blogspot.com Bob Waters

    Well, if the article doesn’t impress you, how about Thompson being tied for second in the national polls without even announcing? Consistently placing among the top four- and usually the top three- in just about every straw poll done in every state? Or visit my blog, and note the size of the two- count ‘em- two- blogrolls of blogs supporting Fred displayed on it?

    Count me as a Fredhead, too- and I have a lot of company. A lot of company.

  • dpulliam

    Bob,

    Perhaps those polls tell us more about the current set of candidates than with Fred Thompson himself?

  • Stephen A.

    Why aren’t conservative Protestnt Republicans rallying aroud Huckabee? Do they know something the rest of us don’t?

    Huckabee has a couple of problems. One was the issue alluded to for the first time nationally at the second debate. He stepped in and “leaned” on a parole board to get a convicted rapist’s sentence reduced so he could pardon him, which he did. Then, he went to Missouri and murdered a woman. This is far worse than Willie Horton and Dukakis.

    Secondly, he LOVES illegal immigrants. He pushed a plan to give illegals in-state tuition at universities, and other goodies, and called anyone who disagreed “un-Christian.” He has a very thin skin, despite losing a lot of weight.

  • Stephen A.

    As for Noonan’s column, it is quite good, but even she shows us that there are some unanswered questions:

    “Most importantly for him, and for all the Republican candidates for that matter, Mr. Thompson will have to answer this question: What is he running to do? Why should the Republicans get another eight years, or four years, after all the missteps they’ve made? Isn’t conservatism, or Republicanism, or whatever you call it, just tired? Isn’t it over? Isn’t America just waiting for whatever will take its place?”

    I’m 110% certain that these questions are rhetorical. Noonan, a former presidential speechwriter, is simply giving (good) advice to him that he must answer these questions for voters and justify 4 or 8 more years of the GOP, not questioning her own commitment to Republicanism.

    And she is certainly correct to want these questions answered by ALL of the candidates, because they are important ones to convey to the electorate.

  • Stephen A.

    As for Brownback…Some of his supporters apparently believe (prepare for it…) that the Earth does NOT revolve around the Sun:

    http://blogs4brownback.wordpress.com/2007/05/18/heliocentrism-is-an-atheist-doctrine

  • http://www.tribalpundit.blogspot.com HokiePundit

    Who’d ever heard of Huckabee before this election? To my mind this candidacy should be about increasing his national recognition. People know a little about McCain, Romney, and Giuliani and here’s the thing: many people can recognize Fred Thompson. His role in movies is always that of an intelligent good-guy, and I honestly wonder if you wouldn’t get some people voting for him because of his Law & Order persona.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X