(CNN)Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin spoke virtually at an event organized by White nationalist Nick Fuentes in Florida at the end of February.
Her participation in that event — which also featured the likes of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona — was the subject of an interview she did with a local reporter named Brian Holmes, who works for a Boise TV station.
This exchange between the two is remarkable:
Holmes: Are you familiar with who puts this event on, like Nick Fuentes?
McGeachin: I don’t know who he is. I’ve never met him. I don’t know who he is.
Holmes: Did you not look into it before you decided to say, ‘Ok’? Like to find out — his name is on it.
McGeachin: Well, you know what, Nick Fuentes, as I said, I don’t know him. He’s never — I’ve never met him. I don’t know … everything that he says or doesn’t say does not reflect on who I am or who the thousands of others that are participating in this movement.
Holmes: You didn’t bother to look up his name or anything?
McGeachin: I didn’t say that.
Holmes: You did look him up?
McGeachin: That’s not the question that you asked me.
Holmes: Did you look up who Nick Fuentes was and what he’s talked about? Like, things he has said?
McGeachin: I have since. … The mainstream media — you do this to conservatives all the time, but you don’t do it to yourself. That every time — any time there’s any kind of affiliation with anybody at any time on any stage, that we are all guilty by association. And it’s not appropriate.
(You can watch the full exchange here.)
McGeachin is challenging Idaho Gov. Brad Little in the Republican primary this year with the backing of former President Donald Trump.
So, let’s give McGeachin the benefit of the doubt here — although her past statements and controversies don’t really warrant it.
Under the BEST-case scenario for her, this is what happened:
1. She agreed to record a video for an event organized by a high-profile White nationalist.
2. She did zero due diligence — and by that I mean going to Google and typing in the name “Nick Fuentes.”
3. She delivered the speech and, after it created controversy, decided to look him up.
4. When pressed on why she didn’t know who she was speaking to, McGeachin said that she can’t be held responsible for who she associates with.
The interview went on for several more minutes, with Holmes trying to get McGeachin to explain what she knew and when she knew it. McGeachin obfuscated and blamed him for trying to “assassinate me or my character.” She then abruptly ended the interview and walked off.
The position that McGeachin appears to be trying to hold here is that she is a) absolutely blameless for speaking at a conference organized by a White nationalist and b) she can never be held accountable for what people she associates with say or do.
Both of those views are, of course, ludicrous.
On the first point, it is the responsibility of every person in the public eye to do some basic research on whom they are spending time with, addressing or just generally being associated with. It’s literally Politics 101.
On the second issue, politicians are always held accountable for whom they choose to be around or near. Need a reminder of that fact? How about Jeremiah Wright, the controversial pastor at a church then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama attended? Or Roger Clinton, Bill Clinton’s half-brother?
Politics is riddled with these sorts of cases. Politicians are always held responsible for whom they choose to interact with — because it can provide a window into who they really are when the spotlight is not shining on them.
McGeachin is no exception. Which, of course, she knows.