Dick Armey had no idea he was speaking to the left-wing Media Matters organization during an interview last week, he told The Daily Caller Tuesday. Instead, Armey thought he was chatting with the conservative Media Research Center.
Armey and his tea party organization FreedomWorks parted ways in early December after disagreements over the direction of the powerful nonprofit and how the group’s money was being spent. (RELATED: Why Armey resigned)
A post published Friday by Media Matters blogger Joe Strupp relayed concerns by Armey — also a former House majority leader — about FreedomWorks’ expenditures, including several million dollars spent on sponsorship opportunities with radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
In that interview, Armey described his disagreement with FreedomWorks’ decision to advertise on those shows. He said he would have preferred spending the money “to recruit activists and inform activists and to encourage and enthuse activists,” something Armey didn’t feel was accomplished through robust radio advertising.
Over the weekend, conservative reaction to Armey’s decision to “dish” to Media Matters about his tumultuous exit from FreedomWorks ranged from befuddled to furious.
“If Dick Armey is going to go to Media Matters, he’s willing to burn down the movement over his vendetta,” Red State blogger Erick Erickson wrote on Twitter.
“This is disgraceful,” Jim Hoft wrote on his blog, The Gateway Pundit. “The former FreedomWorks chairman did not approve of the way the conservative group was working with Glenn Beck to push conservative causes. So, he went to the most sinister far left outlet on the planet to rip on FreedomWorks. He must have lost his mind.”
But in a Tuesday phone interview with TheDC, Armey insisted that even though Strupp properly identified himself, it wasn’t until “somebody busted my chops on Facebook” that he realized he spoke to a left-wing group.
“I wouldn’t know Media Matters from a hole in the wall,” the 72-year-old told TheDC. “That was a major, big screw up on my part. I thought they were somebody else.”
When asked who he thought Media Matters was, Armey replied, “Who’s the guy with the red beard that always does the show where he points out how biased the press is?”
“Oh… the Media Research Center? Brent Bozell?” TheDC suggested. Bozell appears weekly on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show to spotlight liberal media bias in a segment called “Media Mash.”
“Yeah, I thought it was Brent Bozell,” Armey replied. “What I thought I had was I’d get them interested in the absolute screw job I got from The Washington Post.”
That “screw job” was a Christmas Day report claiming Armey had staged an armed “coup” in the fall to fire FreedomWorks’ top executives and have them escorted from their Capitol Hill offices by a gun-carrying aide. Though he was interviewed for the broader report, Armey told TheDC that nobody from the Post ever actually asked him about that explosive gun allegation.
“The Washington Post never mentioned that to me, whatsoever,” Armey said, explaining that Post reporter Amy Gardner called him “three or four” times for the story without asking about the gun tale.
Gardner did not immediately return TheDC’s request for comment on the matter.