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In Response to Joyce Kaufman, Allen West

Today on the Joyce Kaufman Show, your trusty Juice blogger was treated like a tackling dummy. I tuned in just in time to hear myself called a "lunatic" and be accused of lying.

As best I can figure, I'm a lunatic for this post about congressional candidate Allen West. He resigned from the Army after he was brought up on charges of abusing a detainee, and I simply questioned whether he's really a "war hero," as he's often described on the campaign trail.

And I'm a liar because -- according to what West told Kaufman -- I never contacted the campaign to get his side of the story.

Now, I hate to spoil some good-natured shock-jocking with actual facts, but for the record, here's what happened:

February 23: I emailed the West campaign to ask for an interview.
February 25: I received a response from Valentina Weis, communications director for the Allen West campaign. We set an interview for the following week, March 3.
March 2: I emailed Weis to confirm that the interview will happen as scheduled. She wrote:

Unfortunately we are going to have to re-schedule our interview for tomorrow at 12:30pm

What days are you available next week?

Let me know... thanks!

At this point, we got in touch by phone. I told Weis that I wanted to talk to West on Monday, the 8th. She said she'd check his schedule and get back to me. When I didn't hear from her by March 5, a Friday, I called and left a message. She didn't return the call. Neither Weis nor West nor anyone from the campaign got in touch with me Monday either. And so on Tuesday, when I posted the article about West's military record, it contained this 100-percent accurate disclosure:
West canceled a scheduled interview with Juice last week, and we haven't heard back from his campaign this week.
So for West to accuse me of not trying to contact him is absurd. He's either lying himself or he doesn't communicate very well with his communications director.

Besides, the post that offended him does contain West's side of the story. It quotes several times from sworn statements that he made to investigators.

West's outrage is a stunt, a sideshow. In the meantime, there are serious questions that -- if he's serious about Congress -- he needs to answer.

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Thomas Francis

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