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Update: Chris Coons Campaign Denounces ‘Despicable, Cowardly, Reprehensible’ Gawker Story

In their completely justified anger over Gawker’s disgraceful article alleging a (sexless) “one-night stand” with Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell , the O’Donnell campaign took a hard shot at Democratic front-runner Chris Coons. Apparently in response to the Coons campaign’s failure to denounce the article, the campaign said “Classless Coons goons have proven yet again to have no sense of common decency or common sense.”

Gawker’s conduct here was reprehensible, but attempting to conflate Chris Coons with them is patently unfair.

Update: In a statement to Mediaite, Chris Coons campaign communications director Daniel McElhatton denounces Gawker’s story. Full statement after the jump.

First, let me say (without fear of being fired) that Gawker deserves the universal condemnation it has received, as well as the cowardly, no-longer-anonymous author of their pathetic article. If there’s any justice, the guy will live a long life, telling many more stories about the times he didn’t get laid.

Having said all that, the O’Donnell campaign’s statement is grossly unfair to her opponent, Democrat Chris Coons. They take the Coons campaign’s failure to denounce the story (as of 8:45 pm last night) and use it to practically put Coons’ name on Gawker’s byline:

As Chris Coons said on September 16th he would not condone personal attacks against Christine. Classless Coons goons have proven yet again to have no sense of common decency or common sense with their desperate attacks to get another rubber stamp for the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.

Without even considering mitigating circumstances, this is a massively dishonest conflation, referencing “their (the Coons campaign’s) attacks” in a statement that’s solely about the Gawker article. Obviously, the Coons campaign had nothing to do with the story.

Regarding their failure to immediately denounce the story, this is completely understandable. When I first heard about the Gawker article, I asked my editor if we should do a piece of commentary denouncing it. At that time, though, an important part of the calculation was whether denouncing the story would, in fact, promote it beyond the piece of anonymous trash that it was.

This is, no doubt, the same dilemma that faced the Coons campaign. If they had denounced the story, they would have been (rightly) accused of promoting a story that would otherwise not have been reported.

As the day wore on, however, the story became more about the universal condemnation of the article, rather than the allegation itself, which is what we reported on, and which the O’Donnell campaign notes. They should have left it at that. The Coons campaign showed admirable restraint in trying not to elevate the story beyond anonymous gossip, and they have been repaid with an unfair attack.

This is a shame, because the attack on O’Donnell has otherwise proven to be a  rare moment of common ground in this contentious political climate. Here’s hoping they dial it back, and keep the attention focused on Gawker, where it belongs.

Update: In a statement to Mediaite, Chris Coons campaign communications director Daniel McElhatton denounces Gawker’s story. Reached by phone this morning, McElhatton said “Gawker’s cowardly, despicable, and reprehensible hit job has no place in the conversation between Chris Coons, Christine O’Donnell, and Delaware voters. It’s newsworthiness-less drivel.”

McElhatton declined to comment on the O’Donnell campaign’s statement.

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