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The upshot of it all

What the attack on Mike Ross was all about by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | September 28, 2009 at 4:28 a.m.

— WANT A brief summary of what happened last week to Mike Ross, the congressman from the Fourth District of Arkansas? Here's ours:

This artificial tempest over the sale of Congressman and Mrs. Ross' drugstore a couple of years ago was cooked up by Moveon.org, a political pit bull with an agenda of its own, in collaboration with ProPublica, which is a political action outfit disguised as a venture in investigative reporting. And both have come up empty.

A complete accounting of the Rosses' sale of their drug store, which the buyer released at the congressman's request, shows nothing untoward about the sale. Indeed, those who know something about the market for pharmacies tend to conclude that, far from paying an outlandish bribe on behalf of some evil pharmaceutical conspiracy, the company that bought the store got a bargain.

Mike Ross noted at one point that he and Mrs, Ross got $2.41 for each of their business' 64,245 prescriptions. "That's some super deal I got there," he added drily.

To top it off, those tending to absolve the congressman of doing anything wrong now include his long-time business competitor and political rival in Prescott, former state Senator Percy Malone. How about that? When an old rival comes to your defense, that's a pretty sure sign of (a) an honest assessment, and (b) the basic decency of folks in Arkansas whatever our political differences. Which are two things you might not be able to say about either Moveon.org or ProPublica, which have led the pack howling for Mike Ross' political scalp.

It takes time for truth to catch up to a smear, but this time the facts and figures have surfaced with remarkable speed. That's due mostly to Mike Ross' own candor, but it's also because of the hard work of real reporters like our own Jane Fullerton and Alex Daniels, we're proud to say.

The attack dogs of both left and right tend to make the wildest accusations on the basis of the smallest amount of evidence when they go after the other side, and this time they've been caught out in record time.

The best and most inescapable summary we've yet seen of this week-long tempest comes from Congressman Ross himself: "This is a political witch hunt." With nary a real witch in sight. Or even a trace of her broomstick. No, the witchery here is being tried by those filling the air with false accusations, and it's not working. Which means they will soon enough move on, doubtless looking for somebody else to smear.

Editorial, Pages 10 on 09/28/2009

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