Rand Paul: "Most Of The Things I Was Being Accused Of Weren't Things I Said"

June 07, 2010 6:45 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Rand Paul

On Fox News this afternoon, U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY) once again attempted to explain away dubious statements he made questioning the federal government's role in protecting Americans from discrimination.  During an interview with Fox's Neil Cavuto, Paul complained that the media, and specifically the New York Times, created the hullaballoo in order to disparage him and the Tea Party:  

PAUL: The major newspaper in my state has written about, oh, I'd say 100,000 words attacking me.  About one or two of those words have been true, and about 998,000 have been false.  And they won't even let me respond in an essay.  So I think it's been really a concerted effort by people who want to damage the Tea Party, people who want to make the Tea Party something it's not, people who want to characterize me as someone I'm not.  [...]

The New York Times blatantly got it wrong when they read the transcript of this show that I was on.  And even the show that I was on, which was on a left-wing network, finally corrected the New York Times, but by them it's too late.  Everyone in the world was heaping on, and you see a news cycle spins out of control.  Everybody wants a punching bag, and I was it there for a week.  But the interesting thing about it is most of the things I was being accused of weren't things I said, nor positions that I'd taken. 

It's true that the Times erred in its original reporting -- and was subsequently corrected on Rachel Maddow's blog -- but the fact remains that Paul has consistently articulated the view that a "free society" should allow discrimination in private institutions. 

Here's Paul in 2002:

"Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate... A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination -- even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin."

And here's Paul in 2010 before the controversy erupted: 

I don't like the idea of telling private business owners -- I abhor racism. I think it's a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant -- but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. [...]

In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior.

Ultimately, Paul is playing the victim to distract from the real issue: that, regardless of a mistake in the New York Times, he has repeatedly stated that the government shouldn't intrude on private businesses' right to discriminate.