"As a politician in Canada, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said that he was on the sidelines of the Iraq war, but new information reveals he was on the front lines of pre-invasion planning when he worked in the U.S."Well, it is Sun News, aka Fox News North, after all, wot?
But then yesterday morning Sun Media Corp President Pierre Karl Peladeau published a photo that Sun News VP and former Harper spokesy Kory Teneycke had received from Harper's former deputy chief of staff Patrick Muttart.
It was "a compelling electronic image of a man very closely resembling Michael Ignatieff in American military fatigues, brandishing a rifle in a picture purported to have been taken in Kuwait in December 2002", together with "a clip from a Pentagon press briefing in which an American colonel thanked Michael Ignatieff specifically for his work in preparation for the invasion" on the day before the invasion.
Trouble was - it wasn't Iggy in the photo, a discovery credited to Teneycke by Peladeau.
"It is my belief that this planted information was intended to first and foremost seriously damage Michael Ignatieff's campaign but in the process to damage the integrity and credibility of Sun Media and, more pointedly, that of our new television operation, Sun News."Later in the day Muttart's present employer, the US PR company Mercury Public Affairs, responded to Peladeau :
"At no point did Muttart tell Sun Media that he had positively identified Ignatieff in the photo in question."and went on to describe Muttart's work in helping set up the branding of Sun News :
For the record, Mercury was hired by Quebecor to assist Sun News with its pre-license branding and positioning. Muttart worked with a creative agency to develop the network's original logo (a modified version is currently in use). And he was the original source for the network's "hard news" and "straight talk" framing language."including Muttart's pro bono work for Sun News after his contract ended!
Of particular interest here is that while all this was going on, Muttart was also working for the Harper re-election campaign :
"mostly from his Chicago home base where he has worked for an American public affairs firm since 2009, returning occasionally to Ottawa as needed. ... A source close to Muttart said the photo was found online by a U.S.-based political party researcher ."
"He has no further role in our campaign," Conservative spokesman Alykhan Velshi said from the party’s Ottawa war room. Muttart recently returned to work on the Conservative campaign as a consultant “offering advice on messaging and strategy,” according to Velshi.
According to Mr. Velshi, the Tory campaign "provided Sun Media with information that had been acquired during Internet research, namely a photograph described as that of Mr. Ignatieff. The campaign made clear to Sun Media that the identity in the photograph could not be verified and that our own efforts to verify the photograph had been exhausted."So. Patrick Muttart, former Harper staffer, helps Kory Teneycke, another former Harper staffer, set up the brand for Sun News and then sends him incriminating but fake material in what looks to be an attempt to swiftboat Michael Ignatieff - and he did this while giving "advice on messaging and strategy" to Harper's re-election war room? Unbelievable!
So who is this US company Mercury Public Affairs that Muttart now works for - presumably the source of the photo found by "a US-based political party researcher" ?
Mercury - A firm specializing in "high-value public affairs," including image management, polling, and "grassroots coalition building".
Company slogan : "We know what it takes to win in difficult situations."
May 20, 2009 :
Mercury Public Affairs named Patrick Muttart as an MD [Managing Director] and leader of the firm's new Canada/US practice, starting May 4. Muttard is the former deputy chief of staff for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former chief marketing strategist for the Conservative Party of Canada. At Mercury Public Affairs, he will also work with the international public affairs team, which is led by partner Terry Nelson.Muttart's new boss Terry Nelson, former political director of the 2004 Bush Cheney campaign and former McCain-Palin campaign manager, is now also a Senior Advisor to teabagger and 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, which might go some distance towards explaining why Harper's recent campaign ad bore such a strong resemblance to Pawlenty's. [My parody of Harper's ad here.]
Here's Rachel Maddow on Terry Nelson : the race-baiting, the phonejamming dirty tricks, and, before his firm Crosslink Strategy Group became an operating unit of Mercury Public Affairs, the staffer in his employ who was previously the media advisor on the original Swiftboat Veterans For Truth ads , which used lies and doctored photos to smear John Kerry's war record.
Which pretty much brings us full circle on the apparent attempt to swiftboat Michael Ignatieff by a former Harper staffer on loan from a Republican PR company during our election.
Update : Sixth Estate has a few questions.
Thursday Upperdate : Cons : No, no, no, he wasn't in our war room while simultaneously advising Sun Media.
Muttart : Yes, I was.
PostMedia : "Contrary to what some have reported, Patrick hasn't been working in the (Conservative) war room or been in Ottawa," wrote Conservative spokesman Chisholm Pothier in an email."
CP : Tory strategist says he advised Sun Media, and worked for political war room
"Patrick Muttart, the former deputy chief of staff for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told The Canadian Press on Thursday he gave periodic unpaid advice to Sun Media in recent weeks to help it launch its new television news channel. Until this week, he was also on the Tory payroll as a consultant to the party's election war room."We still don't know, however, what he was doing sending false and incriminating stuff on Iggy to The Sun in the middle of an election. And did he send it from the Con war room and on whose instructions?