August 2nd, 2010
03:45 PM ET
4 years ago

Steele 'punked' by journalist posing as GOP donor

RNC chairman Michael Steele opened up to a Republican donor who turned out to be a conservative journalist.
RNC chairman Michael Steele opened up to a Republican donor who turned out to be a conservative journalist.

Washington (CNN) – Despite his trademark bluster, Michael Steele hasn't exactly been committal when facing questions about a possible second term as Republican National Committee chairman.

"It's in the hands of the members," he shrugged to reporters at the RNC's winter meeting in Hawaii.

But in an unorthodox interview with a conservative journalist posted online Monday, Steele proclaimed that a second term is all but certain - and he brushed aside news of a potential challenge from former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman.

"Norm is an old friend. Norm is not going to challenge me for RNC chairman," Steele declared in phone interview with journalist Evan Gahr, who called Steele at his home posing as a GOP donor. "If he does I'll put my record up against anyone who comes after to me. I feel confident we'll get re-elected. I'm not worried about that part of it."

An RNC spokesman verified the authenticity of the July 26 phone call, which Gahr transcribed on his website under the headline, "Punking Michael Steele."

Steele, unaware that he was speaking to a reporter, boasted that his win and loss record "is better than any chairman in the last 10 years," a dubious claim considering that the vast majority of 2010 races have yet to be decided.

When Gahr revealed his true identity, Steele questioned his journalistic ethics. But Steele also admitted he wouldn't have answered questions had Gahr identified himself as a reporter.

"If I did you wouldn't have talked to me," Gahr told him.

"That's probably true because I'm not doing any interviews," Steele answered. "Activists call all the time. They don't try to sneak an interview. That is not kosher."


Filed under: 2010 • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. REG in AZ

    John McCain, in a recent interview conducted by a FOX News rep, very aggressively faulted the Obama admin for not placing 12,000 troops on the border by Aug. 1st. What the interview totally ignored was: Aug. 1st was only suppose to be the start with a 90 day implementation period; over the past several years McCain has failed to do anything himself in regard to the illegal immigration problem, including not even supporting enforcement of current laws and instead supported policy favoring those employing the illegals; his current position is advocating steps that will be very costly with questionable results as they are just more for show than effect; and his present demonstrative concern is strictly correlated to this election year. Now that is exactly the type of politics that not only stink but actually offer nothing real or lasting but instead just depend on irresponsible deception to manipulate public opinion. It is a perfect example of putting political ambitions above all else, at any cost and without conscience.

    In November and in 2012 the Democrats should actually win by a landslide. Recognize I said ‘should’, and not because they are more organized or aggressive, they are not, and not because they are perfect, they surely are not, and not because they have better overt and covert support, they do not, but rather because they are really the only entity focused on the interests of the majority, as the Republicans are literally totally focused on the interests of the very few, their strong supporters, and on their political ambitions above all else and on just conning the majority. If the majority simply avoid being conned, then the Democrats ‘should’ win. If not, then we likely will return to more of the same that got us the problems.

    August 2, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. scott

    what comes around goes around steele lol!

    August 2, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  3. Reggie S

    so he'll talk himself up to someone who he thinks is gonna give him money, but won't talk to someone who might put his comments in print?

    August 2, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  4. sara

    He's questioning Gahr journalistic ethics........but wouldn't and havent' questioned Faux News or the Baithbart Idiot? Punk

    August 2, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. AFR531

    Unfortunately-some politicians have to be tricked into telling the truth.

    August 2, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. Bill in Austin

    Leave the poor guy alone. He is one of the best allies the Dems have outside of Sarah Palin.

    August 2, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. David Scott

    Ask sarah palin... you gotta luv those rip-publicans.

    August 2, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. NJD

    It's not terribly difficult to punk someone who spends most of their time paying attention to themselves and listening to the sound of their own voice.

    August 2, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Joe

    It's really hard to imagine that only one mouth could hold so many feet.

    August 2, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Ted

    Hello – Repukelicans? – How much more evidence do you need that Michael Steele is a tool of your party? The guy has about as much sense and intelligence to fill a thimble and I am being generous. But that is OK. The GOP these days is represented by the stupid, moronic, ignorant and completely idiotic dufuses such as Steele, Palin, Backhman, Angle, Boner, Limbarf, Beckerhead, Hannity, Coultergeist, Cheney and many others. Amazing.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    August 2, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    What's really amazing is that I always believed that politicians were smarter than I. Obviously .........not! The Republicans choose this man, Steele, as a reaction to President Barack Obama being elected by Americans! The GOP was 'hoping' that they would by choosing Steele, sway some of us, who are progressives to their camp. What a joke!

    Poor Steele, is he so daft he does not see that he is being used?

    August 2, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Tony

    You don't do interviews? Your primary responsibility is to the people of this country who have the power to make or break a candidate. Is this the Republican version of transparency? What do you have to hide anyway?

    August 2, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. CR

    Michael Steele, the gift that keeps on giving.

    August 2, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    "When Gahr revealed his true identity, Steele questioned his journalistic ethics. But Steele also admitted he wouldn't have answered questions had Gahr identified himself as a reporter."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Steele the person who posed as a Democrat trying to woe people into the republican party in his not-so-distant past?

    Telling "the truth" to big donors, telling them what they want to hear but no interviews is lying, by omission, to the rest of the American voters.

    At least Bohner was honest enough to say the the republican polices if elected were TBD – to be decided – admitting they have no plan ...

    August 2, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. AJ

    Is this type of deception really appropriate?

    August 2, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. jeff jackson, alabama

    It appears that reporters don't have room to talk
    about the dishonesty of politicians anymore.
    But of course, most of the informed knew that
    already. I'd trust a politician alot further than I
    would a reporter.

    August 2, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. SJ in California

    What Gahr did was unethical. Michael Steele's statements were perfectly reasonable, for speaking to a donor, as he thought. Anyone in public view has to guard his words, not knowing how they'll be used. Shame on Evan Gahr.

    August 2, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Republicans is smart in the head area

    Awaiting the enraged teabagger response from the same trolls who were so adamantly defending Breitbart's editing of the Sherrod speech. Should be good for a laugh.

    August 2, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Steve (the real one)

    I guess now he knows how it feels. DC has been punking the middle class for an awful long time now!

    August 2, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Duck Fallas

    All the kids in the fourth grade think Gahr is like the funniest guy ever.

    August 2, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. rdepontb

    Every Republican: Let's keep our eyes and ears open for an alternative job opportunity for Mr. Steele. Please; he deserves our support at least on that issue.

    August 2, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. sal from cal

    As quickly as I read this article three names came to mind.
    I thought of Connie Chung, Dan Rather, and Morey Saffer.
    There was a time in America when journalists had a fairly good
    reputation as being trust worthy. But those three and no doubt
    others have changed the way people feel about reporters. Each
    of the above mentioned have been known to twist facts and
    out and out lie to creat controversies.

    August 2, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    Hah....hoisted upon his own petard. Steele was unaware he was talking to a reporter. So if we take Steele at his word, journos shouldn't pose as, i dunno.....a pimp who goes into an Acorn office, let's say, in order to blow the lid off something?

    what's good for the Elephant, the donkey can also have some fun with.

    August 2, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Midwest

    What a clown

    August 2, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. Marie MD

    First the AK imbecile and now steele. I guess it can happen to anyone but some people are more gullible than others. These two actually think they represent anybody.
    For people in MD – two words about ehlrich- michael steele and you can now add his running mate kane and her husband's shady business practices while she was "not employed" to help his comapny out and there you have the rethugs in MD in one place.
    Vote O'Malley.

    August 2, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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