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Rachel Maddow Draws Fire From GOP Rep. For Reporting On 'The Family' (VIDEO)

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Apparently, "The Rachel Maddow Show" has drawn fire from the office of Congressman Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) over a segment aired last week on The Family, an organization that's best known for organizing the National Prayer Breakfast but becoming better known for "C Street." C Street is a house where several members of Congress reside, and through which Mark Sanford and John Ensign are receiving some sort of undefined "counseling" for their extramarital affairs.

Apparently, the fooferaw between Wamp, who lives at "C Street," and Maddow stems from a segment she did last Friday, in which she quoted a Knoxville News Sentinel article titled, "Wamp, housemates hurt by links to scandals." I'll quote the entire section. The bolded portion is what Maddow read on the air last Friday:

"These are trying times, and, obviously, with Sen. Ensign and Gov. Sanford, everybody is disappointed," Wamp said. "There is no doubt about that."

Ensign, of Nevada, and Sanford were both rising stars in the Republican Party, and Wamp said their transgressions have hurt the GOP and the conservative movement.

"There's no question that the blows to the party and the conservative movement are painful," he said. "But that just goes to show that no group of people is exempt from these kinds of problems."

Beyond that, Wamp declines to offer any insight into how his housemates are grappling with the scandal. The C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements, Wamp said, and he intends to honor that pact.

"I hate it that John Ensign lives in the house and this happened because it opens up all of these kinds of questions," Wamp said. But, he said, "I'm not going to be the guy who goes out and talks."

Since then, Wamp's office has complained to MSNBC, in a note that read: "This statement made by Ms. Maddow Friday night is false: 'Today he told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the members of Congress who live there are sworn to secrecy.' Congressman Wamp never said people who live or meet at C Street are sworn to secrecy because that is in no way true."

Maddow, last night, stood by her reporting, saying: "The on-the-record quotation from Mr. Wamp was that C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements. The News Sentinel characterized the agreement as a "pact." We called the News Sentinel today to see if they got that wrong, to see if Mr. Wamp's office had at least also called them to say the quote was wrong -- to demand a retraction or correction. They said they haven't heard from him."

If there is a dime's worth of difference to split here, it lies with what was quoted on the record and what the newspaper characterized from the statements given by Wamp. It can be fairly said that Wamp never said, on the record, that "C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements." That's the newspaper, paraphrasing Wamp. Similarly, "pact" is the newspaper's characterization. Nowhere in the article is Wamp quoted as describing something as a pact.

Nevertheless, it's hard to fault the logical leaps Maddow is making, based upon what she read in the newspaper. Clearly, Wamp is party to some sort of agreement to secrecy. And Maddow is right to be aggrieved over the fact that she is fielding these complaints, and not the News Sentinel, as she is merely repeating the conclusions reached by their reporter.

In that case, I have to agree with Maddow when she says, "But Congressman Wamp, if you say something to your hometown paper that sounds bad when repeated on national television, don't blame the person reading your quote back to you for how creepy that quote makes you sound."

[WATCH]

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TRANSCRIPT:

MADDOW: But first, we have had a strange response today to our recent reporting on The Family, a secretive religious organization that, among other things, runs a house in Washington called C Street where a number of members of Congress live. We spent time on this show both Thursday and Friday talking about The Family because it's emerged as a key player in both major Republican sex scandals of the summer in which family values preaching politicians who have demanded resignation of other politicians for having affairs have themselves now admitted to affairs but are showing no signs of intending to resign.

The two scandals are of those those of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada Senator John Ensign. Senator Ensign lives in the C Street house maintained by The Family. The husband of his mistress says other members of Congress who lived at C Street both knew about his affair and counseled Senator Ensign on how to resolve it. Governor Sanford name-checked C Street explicitly in his press conference in which he announced his affair, saying he had received counseling about the affair from C Street while it was ongoing but still secret.

On Friday's show I quoted an account from the Knoxville News Sentinel in which a member of Congress who lives at C Street described one of the most worrying aspects of this shadowy, powerful organization -- its secrecy. The Congressman in question is Zach Wamp of Tennessee. He has lived at C Street for a dozen years and here is what I said about him on Friday.

[VIDEO CLIP] Zach Wamp of Tennessee is a Republican member of Congress who says he has lived in the C Street house for 12 years. Today he told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the members of Congress who live there are sworn to secrecy. Quoting from the News Sentinel, "The C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements, Wamp said, and he intends to honor that pact. 'I hate it that John Ensign lives in the house and this happened because it opens up all of these kinds of questions,' Wamp said. But, he said, "I'm not going to be the guy who goes out and talks."

That was on this show on Friday. Today Congressman Wamp's office contacted our office to complain about what I said saying, quote, "This statement made by Ms. Maddow Friday night is false: 'Today he told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the members of Congress who live there are sworn to secrecy.' Congressman Wamp never said people who live or meet at C Street are sworn to secrecy because that is in no way true."

The on-the-record quotation from Mr. Wamp was that C Street residents have all agreed they won't talk about their private living arrangements. The News Sentinel characterized the agreement as a "pact." We called the News Sentinel today to see if they got that wrong to see if Mr. Wamp's office had at least also called them to say the quote was wrong to demand a retraction or correction. They said they haven't heard from him.

Turns out that Zach Wamp's office is only complaining to us. Until we have reason to believe Mr. Wamp was lying when he said C Street residents have all agreed not to speak about C Street or his home state paper, was lying when they attributed the quote to him, I am going to have to stand by what I said. If I have said something untrue on this program I am quite literally, not kidding, more than happy to correct it. But Congressman Wamp, if you say something to your hometown paper that sounds bad when repeated on national television, don't blame the person reading your quote back to you for how creepy that quote makes you sound. I'm tempted to add something here about bearing false witness but I shall refrain.

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