The McConnell Taper's Ill-Considered, Unrepetant Confession

Curtis Morrison, the guy behind the recording of a Mitch McConnell campaign strategy session, has confessed to the deed in a lengthy post at Salon. In summary: He has not learned any lesson.

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Curtis Morrison, the guy behind the recording of a Mitch McConnell campaign strategy session, has confessed to the deed in a lengthy post at Salon. The wisdom of doing so while the FBI convenes a grand jury on the matter is one thing. Morrison's somewhat deluded overestimation of his actions is another thing entirely.

A co-founder of Progress Kentucky, a PAC dedicated to ousting McConnell, Morrison describes how he ended up standing in the hallway outside a meeting during which McConnell's opposition research team presented its findings about Ashley Judd. It was a cold day in February, he writes.

I didn’t want to go outside — I didn’t want to go anywhere — but I remember thinking if McConnell’s launch was so close to my home and I spent the day hibernating, then I suck at both journalism and activism. And since I don’t have aptitude or passion for much else, that would be problematic for my self-esteem. So I put on my coat and shoes, grabbed my Flip camera, and headed out the door.

He and a friend entered the building where McConnell's campaign was hosting an event. They walked past an empty desk, and up to the second floor where Morrison's "source" reported the event was being held.

The voices were coming from the other side of a nearby door, which had a window. I pulled out my Flip camera and started to record.

I don’t need to tell you what a weapon the pocket video camera has become.

He tells you anyway. It's sort of how the piece goes, aw-shucks humility followed by dramatic descriptions of his actions and the significance of his self-appointed journalism. Over the course of the story, Morrison compares himself to Julian Assange, Anonymous, Scott Prouty (the man who leaked the "47 percent" tape to Mother Jones), and John F. Kennedy. He says "I will not paint myself as a victim," and then details losing his job (because he was writing for a local blog) and his home (because he was renting from a relative of the friend he went to the meeting with). He refers to himself in the first person more than 100 times.

"I took a risk on Groundhog Day," he writes. "I stuck my head up to try to raise the general public’s awareness about what the most powerful Republican on the planet is really like. If I get whacked in the process, so be it."

The thing about this whole story, though, is that Morrison still doesn't get it. I don't know how to continue the groundhog-analogy here, but when he stuck his head up/neck out, there wasn't much point to it. As I noted at the time, McConnell and his team's remarks were crass and cruel, but they were completely par for the course. (To emphasize that we all make mistakes, please note that my overconfident guess on the source of the tape in that linked piece was very wrong.) McConnell's campaign never actually attacked Ashley Judd for suffering from depression, despite Morrison claiming they had "plans" to do so. They didn't even have plans. It was a smear attempt that McConnell easily rebuffed.

Morrison — as amateur a political strategist as he is a journalist — doesn't get that. He may get that what he did presents a risk to himself legally. He clearly doesn't get that what he did presents little to no risk to McConnell. That what he did made his organization, Progress Kentucky, a punchline — and, by extension, did the same to Kentucky progressives. Morrison is baffled why Democrats in the state, including one he admired, would attack what he did. It's because it was useless and damaging to them, Curtis. That's why.

"If given another chance to record him, I'd do it again," the piece concludes. Of course. Any other response would suggest that a lesson has been learned.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.