RNC Chair Michael Steele 'Punked' by Fake Donor

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele had a nice conversation with a donor last week about the possibility of a leadership challenge from former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. Except: The "donor" was a conservative blogger. Who published the whole conversation.

Sounds like the worst episode of "Punk'd" ever, right? Well, it's actually even worse than that. The easily-scared B-list celebrity in this case is Steele, an eight-foot-tall goofball prone to saying hilarious things like "urban-surburban hip-hop settings" and "we're going beyond cutting edge" and "Afghanistan was a war of Obama's choosing." The be-trucker-hatted "punker" is conservative blogger Evan Gahr, who insists, sternly, on his blog, powered by Blogger and located at http://dcgadfly.blogspot.com, that he "is a journalist NOT a blogger."

Here's what happens: Gahr calls Steele on his home phone and claims to be "Bertram," a hedge fund manager nervous about donating to the Republican party. At first, Steele craftily pretends to be someone else:

Michael Steele: Can I ask who's calling?

Evan Gahr: Yeah, this is Bertram. I work in a hedge fund and I'm interested in making a donation but I'm worried my money is going to go to strippers and that kind of thing.

Michael Steele: Well, let me leave a message for him.

But Steele seems to give up that game pretty easily. "Bertram" then asks Steele about the possibility of being challenged by Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman, to which Steele replies:

Norm is an old friend. Norm is not going to challenge me for RNC chairman. If he does I'll put my record up against anyone who comes after to me. I feel confident we'll get re-elected. I'm not worried about that part of it.

As Gahr is quick to point out, this is newsworthy, as it's the first confirmation that Steele will run for re-election. The rest of the Punk'ng is pretty uneventful (except for the part where Gahr reveals he's a journalist and says he's with "The Washington Gadfly, a new iconoclastic website," and then I burst out laughing), but the RNC confirmed that Gahr spoke with Steele, so it's... accurate, as far as that goes (who knows if Steele would be any more forthcoming to a donor than to a journalist).

It's also, uh, a... not-particularly-ethical way to conduct an interview, which is surprising considering that it comes from another conservative internet activist-blogger, a breed well-known for integrity and rectitude. Sike! Evan Gahr is a journalist, not a blogger.

[CNN; Evan Gahr]