Curious Case Of Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff — Part 1; What Is Secret Behind Second Stringer?

Paul Mirengoff, 71, is one of three Dartmouth College alumni and lawyers who founded the conservative PowerLine blog in 2002.  The trio includes John Hinderacker and Chief Hypocrite Scott Johnson.  

In 2004, PowerLine was named Time magazine’s Blog of the Year.  That same year, along with other conservative websites, PowerLine helped break the “Rathergate” story on the use of forged documents by Dan Rather and CBS News to attack President George W. Bush’s service record in the Texas Air National Guard.  After a CBS investigation, Rather apologized and resigned.

Despite that auspicious beginning, nowadays Scott Johnson and his two comrades are turning PowerLine into the conservative version of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook.  That means there is less and less free speech permitted.  Johnson has a track record of banning conservatives who are not sufficiently deferential to him — even though they do not violate his posted “standards.” 

Meanwhile, PowerLine readers scratch their heads over Mirengoff’s thought process and writing; but his PowerLine alums, usually Johnson, rush to throw a protective cloak over Mirengoff. 

Here are some sample PowerLine Reader Comments about Paul Mirengoff:

Johnson warns readers they are forbidden to call Mirengoff a “Never Trumper” —  or they will be banned.  Yet Johnson and his Dartmouth alums freely label others with the same term.  If Johnson did not have a double standard, he would have none at all.

 Set that aside for a moment — something about Mirengoff is concealed here.  Something is not quite level — half a bubble off plumb — but we’re not told what it is.

Chief Hypocrite Scott Johnson — a “lawyer and executive” by his own description — recently declared: “We have zero tolerance for expressions of anti-Semitism and racial animus.”  Perhaps that wasn’t the case in 2011 when Mirengoff left the blog under a cloud.  

It is not unreasonable to surmise some or all of the tap dancing around Mirengoff dates to 2011. 

Keep in mind, Mirengoff is (or was) a highly educated person with a law degree who was a “partner” at the global law firm Akin Gump in Washington DC.  His career also included 5 years with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  This is not someone who should need remedial sensitivity lessons.

Yet in 2011, Mirengoff posted remarks critical of a Yaqui tribal prayer used at a Tucson memorial service honoring six who were murdered and several more who were injured by a shooter during a gathering for constituents of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.  Giffords herself was shot in the head “at point-blank range” and survived.

According to public reports, Mirengoff wrote:

“As for the ‘ugly,’ I’m afraid I must cite the opening ‘prayer’ by Native American Carlos Gonzales,” Mirengoff wrote.  It “apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to ‘the creator’ but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.”

 Mirengoff’s snarky post about the Yaqui tribal prayer at a memorial ceremony for murder victims detonated in his face — and PowerLine’s.  How bright do you have to be to understand what is an inappropriate remark?

Akin Gump Attorney and colleague James Meggesto fired back on the law firm’s website:

As an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation; as an attorney who has dedicated his life and law practice to the representation of Indian tribes, tribal organizations and tribal interests; and as a partner in the American Indian law and policy practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, I was shocked, appalled and embarrassed by a recent Web posting by another Akin Gump partner, Paul Mirengoff, who posted on his personal blog an insensitive and wholly inappropriate criticism of the use of a Yaqui prayer as the invocation to the recent memorial service held in Tucson, Arizona.”

If that weren’t enough, Akin Gump Chairman Bruce McLean wrote:

“We sincerely apologize for the blog entry posted by Akin Gump partner Paul Mirengoff on his personal blog, powerlineblog.com. Akin Gump is neither affiliated with, nor a supporter of, the blog.  We found his remarks to be insensitive and wholly inconsistent with Akin Gump’s values.”

The following day, Mirengoff and PowerLine issue an abject apology.  Fifteen days later, Mirengoff leaves PowerLine with a 4-sentence explanation, noting that his offensive post was deleted.

Fifteen months later, Mirengoff’s law career is over.  Those of us with executive experience can imagine what happened.  Your law firm partner declares your public post on a personal blog “insensitive and wholly inappropriate criticism of the use of a Yaqui prayer.”

The big boss publicly declares Mirengoff’s “remarks to be insensitive and wholly inconsistent with Akin Gump’s values.”

Could have gone a couple of different ways, but one way would be for the law firm bosses to tell Mirengoff he has 12-15 months to wrap up his work at Akin Gump and find a new job. 

Son of a Gun, at age 63, Lucky Mirengoff finds a job as a blogger at PowerLine.  Hey, everybody loves happy endings!  Except many of Mirengoff’s readers.  Wait till he tells them to take their prayers, religion, even their race and stuff it.

In his homecoming post at PowerLine in April of 2012, Mirengoff says his “return to blogging coincides with my retirement from the practice of law.”  What a coincidence!

So Mirengoff returns to PowerLine posting thanks to his buddies for their “moral support during the past 15 months.”  Moral support is defined as emotional or psychological backing.

That moral support continues for years to cover for Mirengoff’s peculiarities that led to his departure in the first place.  Chief Hypocrite Scott Johnson could ban Mirengoff with the announcement, “Hey, we discovered this guy really is a Never Trumper, and not a conservative.  He never met my posted standards.”  Yadda, yadda.  More fun to come in Part 2 next week.  Meanwhile, your take-home assignment is to look up the word smarmy.

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