Newsweekly falsely speculates arson suspect is Tea Party activist: Writer says Tea Party activists can’t take a joke

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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A writer for a St. Louis alternative newsweekly tells The Daily Caller he does not regret speculating in a story that the suspect of an attempted arson of a Democratic congressman’s campaign office was a Tea Party activist.

It turns out that the suspect in this week’s firebombing of Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan’s campaign office in St. Louis was actually a liberal blogger and former paid campaign worker for Carnahan’s campaign.

“As to the legions of Tea Party adherents who are calling for my head: No, I have no regrets. I was having fun — at their expense,” River Front Times reporter Chad Garrison said in an email.

An attorney for the suspect, Chris Powers, confirmed his arrest to liberal news site Talking Points Memo (TPM). She said the activist had been disgruntled with Carnahan’s campaign over payment due to him. Powers also wrote a reader blog at TPM under the name Ripper McCord.

Outrage with Garrison comes from this paragraph in an article he penned about the incident. “Given what we know of him — 50, white, angry — he certainly fits the demographics of a Tea Party member.”

Garrison said his report was a “joke” and was not meant literally. He pointed to another section of the same story where he wrote: “On second thought, maybe he’s not a Tea Party member. Firebombing your opponent’s office seems a little too, um, sane for that group.”

Dana Loesch, a talk show host and leader of the St. Louis Tea Party, said Garrison’s report was “completely typical of that author.”

“We’ve asked for him to apologize for his remarks but he mistakenly confuses quasi-gonzo journalism with hackneyed writing,” she said.

On Thursday, Garrison said, “you’d have to be quite the literalist to believe I was actually accusing anyone of a crime. Then again, it’s becoming ever clearer that these are people who can’t take a joke and who have no emotion other than blind outrage and indignation.”