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Murkowski has not -- repeat, NOT -- approached the Libertarians

Amanda CoyneThe New York Times

Did Sen. Lisa Murkowski offer the Libertarians $1 million if they allowed her on their ticket?

"Absolutely not," says Scott Kohlhaas, who is chairman of the Alaska Libertarian Party. Not only that, but no one, not one person from her campaign, has approached the Libertarians. "Not one person has come to us in any official way," he said.

Here's Steve Wackowski, spokesman for the Murkowski campaign, about the rumor: "That's not true," he said. "No one on our team has talked with the Libertarian Party."

It bears repeating: Murkowski has NOT offered the Libertarians money. Nor has she or anyone from her team talked to the party.

However, truth be damned, it's now all over both the left and the right blogosphere as fact.

How did it happen? First, and foremost, the credit has to go to Erick Erickson, founder of the popular conservative blog RedState.com and Sarah Palin supporter. (Actually, the credit really might belong to CNN, who gave him credibility by making him a contributor, but that's another story). On his site this morning he wrote the following:

"I have confirmed through multiple sources that Lisa Murkowski has already approached the Alaska Libertarian Party. In exchange for putting her on the Libertarian ticket in November, Murkowski will hand the Libertarians a sizable chunk of her +$1 million war chest."

But wait. In the next paragraph he adds,  "The Libertarian Party Chairman, Scot Kohlhaas, is denying direct talks with Murkowski, and says it probably won't happen, but I can confirm conversations are still happening regarding this."

Cooler heads might have asked the obvious question: Surely, wouldn't Kohlhaas have known? Who, in fact, would know better than he? But everyone, particularly Palin supporters, had all they needed to spread a juicy story. And just in case people didn't have time to read the whole post, or maybe in case somebody might read it too closely, Erickson made it simple for them. A tweet from him read: "Lisa Murkowski has already gone to the Alaska Libertarian Party promising money in exchange for their spot on the general election ballot."

You can imagine what happened from there. It's now all over, with only a little nudging and re-tweeting from Rebecca Mansour, who works for Palin's political action committee SarahPac, and is widely believed to be the author of Palin's twitter posts. (Nothing from Palin herself yet, who no doubt doesn't want to be associated with the ugliness).

Now Conservatives4Palin.com is writing about it and is taking it one step further. It's now turning the whole thing into fight against the establishment Republican Party, who would dare support a politician as corrupt as Murkowski. "A Clarion Call to Ordinary Barbarians: It's Time to Fight" is the headline of one of its pieces. "(Murkowski) called the war elephants in on her side, and we now have a fight on our hands. It's elephants vs. grizzly bears, and the only question is whether we're willing to recognize the fact and dig in," it says.

And it gets better. What other group might see something they like in this? Well, the lefties of course! HuffingtonPost.com republished Erickson's tweet. Then the very lefty Think Progress, which is part of the Center for American Progress, wrote a piece entitled Will The Libertarian Party Sell Out Its Principles To Win A Senate Seat?

Guess who the reporter cites as a source? Yep. Erick Erickson, heretofore anathema to those Think Progress folks, those people who are so, so critical of the right wing blogosphere, of Fox News, and of radio talk show hosts for spreading unsubstantiated rumors. From the Center for American Progress' website: "(We) challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter and shape the national debate."

Okay. You're on. Here's a piece that challenges you to stop making things up. And while we're at it: Palin peeps, you should heed the call of your gal and do so, too.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com.