Charles Jaco, the Missouri journalist whose question prompted Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, told TPM he “screwed up” by not following up on the explosive remark.
“I dropped the ball,” Jaco said.
Jaco has interviewed Akin “dozens of times,” he said, and the nearly 20-minute interview went 14 minutes without touching on the economy. Jaco’s producer informed him that time was running low, and Jaco moved on. Before the “rape” comment, Akin made comments against federal money for student loans and school lunches and said the Voting Rights Act of 1965 deserves a second look. “At this point, I don’t know if I was inoculated to odd things that might have been said,” Jaco said.
Asked under what circumstances, if any, he would find abortion permissible, Akin said: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin later said he “misspoke.”
The comments have drawn condemnation from both sides of the aisle. In an overnight email to supporters, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz linked Akin’s remarks to a larger problem within the GOP. “Now, Akin’s choice of words isn’t the real issue,” Wasserman Schultz wrote. “The real issue is a Republican party — led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong.”
Mitt Romney’s campaign quickly distanced itself from Akin’s remarks, saying Romney and Ryan “disagree” with him and would “not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
In hindsight, Jaco said he should have taken a deep breath and asked the congressman if he believes women’s bodies somehow prevent them from becoming pregnant after a rape. A number of viewers wrote in to express their disappointment that Jaco didn’t follow up. Jaco said he has apologized to each of them.
“When you’re not 100 percent fully engaged, and you’ve got anything else on your mind, you’ll miss stuff,” Jaco said. “We all brain fart sooner or later, and this is mine.”
Watch Jaco’s interview below (abortion comments at the 4:00 mark):
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com