Jawas Score First Blood

Well, those who scoffed at Dr. Rusty Shackleford’s expose’ of the smear video on Sarah Palin can just STFU (Google if if you must); the prime suspect has confessed.

And thrown himself on the grenade.

Ethan Winner, a vice president at Winner & Associates, a PR firm owned by Publicis Groupe, has stated that he produced the video in question. Here’s his statement in full:

Statement of Ethan Winner

The following is in response to questions I have received regarding the post on the Jawa Report website.

I produced and posted on the Internet the video entitled “Sarah Palin: A Heartbeat Away.”

The idea for the video was mine. No one paid me to produce it. The only out-of-pocket cost will be the fee for the voice-over narrator, which I will pay personally when I receive an invoice. Contrary to the allegation in the Jawa Report, the voice-over artist has never done any work for the Obama campaign. I retained her through a talent agency based solely on the quality of her voice.

Neither the Obama campaign nor any independent political action committee has had a connection with the making and/or posting of this video. Just like the thousands of Americans who have posted videos on the Internet regarding the current Presidential campaign, I produced this video as an expression of my right to free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

I believe the American people have a right and a need to know information about candidates for political office and their views. I made this video because I think it is important for the public to be aware of the association between Sarah and Todd Palin and the Alaskan Independence Party. The New York Times has reported that the Alaskan Independence Party website describes the party as seeking, in the words of the party, “a range of solutions to the conflicts between federal and local authority,” including “advocacy for state’s rights, through a return to territorial status, all the way to complete independence and nationhood status for Alaska.”

While a number of media outlets have said that reports that Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party may have been erroneous, her attendance at the party’s 1994 convention, her video speech to the 2008 convention and her husband’s membership in the Alaskan Independence Party have not been called into question.

Some people have asked why I have pulled the video from the Internet. The reason is simple. Following the posting of personal information about me by the Jawa Report, my family began to receive threatening and abusive phone calls and emails.

This requires nothing less than a full-blown Fisking.

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Statement of Ethan Winner

The following is in response to questions I have received regarding the post on the Jawa Report website.

I produced and posted on the Internet the video entitled “Sarah Palin: A Heartbeat Away.”

Well, that tidies up matters considerably.

The idea for the video was mine. No one paid me to produce it. The only out-of-pocket cost will be the fee for the voice-over narrator, which I will pay personally when I receive an invoice. Contrary to the allegation in the Jawa Report, the voice-over artist has never done any work for the Obama campaign. I retained her through a talent agency based solely on the quality of her voice.

Hmm… the voiceover artist has yet to be paid? How convenient. And I’m willing to wager that she never will submit that invoice, because that would identify her — and, as Rusty and others suspect, show that she very well might be the same woman who David Axelrod used in at least one Obama ad. That would put a serious dent in the “through a(n) (unnamed) talent agency” story right there. I suspect she’ll be quietly paid in cash, for far more than she was originally promised.

Neither the Obama campaign nor any independent political action committee has had a connection with the making and/or posting of this video. Just like the thousands of Americans who have posted videos on the Internet regarding the current Presidential campaign, I produced this video as an expression of my right to free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

But unlike the thousands of other Americans, Mr. Winner had access to the full resources of his family’s PR agency to whip up his little video.

I believe the American people have a right and a need to know information about candidates for political office and their views. I made this video because I think it is important for the public to be aware of the association between Sarah and Todd Palin and the Alaskan Independence Party. The New York Times has reported that the Alaskan Independence Party website describes the party as seeking, in the words of the party, “a range of solutions to the conflicts between federal and local authority,” including “advocacy for state’s rights, through a return to territorial status, all the way to complete independence and nationhood status for Alaska.”

While a number of media outlets have said that reports that Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party may have been erroneous, her attendance at the party’s 1994 convention, her video speech to the 2008 convention and her husband’s membership in the Alaskan Independence Party have not been called into question.

But do the American people “have a right and a need to know” LIES, Mr. Winner? The allegation that Governor Palin was ever a member of the AIP — which you stated in your video as incontrovertible FACT — has been proven to be false, and was false before you posted your video. Yes, her husband was a member at one point. Yes, she did welcome them at their convention in 1994 — it was in her city, and she was the mayor. Yes, she did give a video speech in 2008 — she is the governor, and at no point did she endorse their goals, merely laud their participation.

Further, the story that she was a member was put out by one or two (I forget the details) of the party’s leaders. She responded by releasing her voter registration records from the day she first registered to vote — and proved she has been a lifelong Republican. Every single change noted in her records was a change of name (when she married) or address — not a single change of afffiliation. When shown this, the AIP officials admitted they had no documentation to refute this and admitted they had been in error.

And faking voter registration records is a crime, so I have my doubt that Governor Palin would risk something so serious over something so trivial.

I find it hard to believe that someone as interested in Palin’s relationship with the AIP would miss that detail in the story while putting together his little hit video.

Some people have asked why I have pulled the video from the Internet. The reason is simple. Following the posting of personal information about me by the Jawa Report, my family began to receive threatening and abusive phone calls and emails.

As Rusty and others have noted, the videos (plural — it was posted in several places) were pulled literally within minutes of the Jawa Report expose’ — which was released late Sunday night. Is Mr. Winner saying that furious Jawa readers (and their fury is certainly understandable) tracked down his phone number and e-mail that quickly, and he started getting those phone calls at his home that fast? Rusty very carefully did not give any personal contact info for Mr. Winner.

OK, that’s it for what Mr. Winner (although “Weiner” and “Whiner” seem more appropriate) said. Now for what he didn’t say:

He didn’t say that the video was produced entirely through his own resources, and that his employer was not involved.

That would be key. Since his employer is in the business of making such videos for profit, that would leave the firm open to liability for an “in-kind contribution” to the Obama camp.

He didn’t identify the other parties he involved in his video — namely, the voiceover artist and the talent agency he allegedly employed to find her.

As I noted, that leaves the strong suspicion that the woman in question would provide direct linkage between the video and the Obama campaign.

He didn’t mention how he used the identities of his co-workers and family members to promote the video.

Rusty identified Ethan Winner through his use of the identity “eswinner.” Also used in the promotion and dissemination of the video were the identities of several other employees of Winner and Associates, most of whom are related to Ethan. “cnwinner” matches up with Chuck N. Winner, Ethan’s father and the president of the company. “Justyn Winner” was also involved, it seems — Winner and Associates’ vice president, general counsel, and uncle of Ethan Winner. And “stckyfngz” — who plugged the video at Democratic Underground — is an identity used by Associate Jared Liu-Klein of Winner and Associates at ESPN.com. Liu-Klein, in his career at Winner, represented Valerie Plame on behalf of the firm.

As I said, this is first blood. The first — and most readily identifiable — person has stepped forward to admit his responsibility. But he’s trying to dive on the grenade, to take the full responsibility for this whole fraudulent, dishonest, disgusting act.

I’m not buying it. And neither are the folks who first fingered him — Rusty, Ace, Dan Riehl, and Patterico — who has a reader who pointed out this story showing a direct connection between Obama’s Chief Media Strategist, David Axelrod, and Chuck “cnwinner” Winner.

The first brick has come loose from the wall. There are more coming.

I’m feeling wildly optimistic. I’ll give David Axelrod until next Friday to resign from the Obama campaign.

The Knucklehead of the Day award
Life in Florida XI