In response to this item today, concerning Rolling Stone's claim that Betsy McCaughey worked secretly with tobacco lobbyists when preparing her 1994 New Republic article about the Clinton health reform plan, I have just received this note from Lindsay Craig of the Manhattan Institute:
"Below is a letter to the editor of Rolling Stone from Lawrence Mone, president, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research."In his article "The Lie Machine," Tim Dickenson asserts that former Manhattan Institute scholar Betsy McCaughey's work was influenced by Phillip Morris. This conclusion is false. Betsy McCaughey wrote two articles for the Wall Street Journal on the Clinton Health Care plan and an additional article for the New Republic which was solicited by its publisher. At no time were her ideas influenced or controlled by anyone but the author herself."
I have written back to Lindsay Craig asking for clarification on what, exactly, Mr. Mone is saying. The Rolling Stone documents say that Ms. McCaughey worked, in secret, with tobacco company lobbyists in preparing her articles. Mr. Mone's statement says that she was not "influenced or controlled" by anyone else. I have written to ask whether Mr. Mone is saying that she never worked with tobacco representatives (whether or not she was "controlled" by them); and whether the Manhattan Institute was aware of any such collaboration. More info as it arrives.
I wrote back to Lindsay Craig asking which of these options the Manhattan Institute was saying:
"A: The Rolling Stone contention that tobacco companies collaborated with Ms. McCaughey and M.I. is totally false; there was no such contact or collaboration.
"B: We are confident that Ms. McCaughey's opinions were not influenced by tobacco companies, even though she may have worked with them.
Her immediate response:
"A. Betsy never worked with Phillip Morris."
Is this a question of a lobbyist grossly exaggerating his "influence" to impress bosses and funders? That's a very familiar pattern in Washington. On the other hand, the lobbyist's detailed knowledge of Betsy McCaughey's writing plans suggests some interaction. I don't know the underlying truth here. It would be valuable if Ms. McCaughey, who has specialized in detailed textual analysis, would address in specific what these documents contend.