-By Warner Todd Huston
Weeks ago the chief of a breakaway chapter of the Chicago Tea Party Catherina Wojtowicz sent out an email blast making the claim that her group’s December meeting was interrupted by a fire. She breathlessly styled the incident as an arson attempt and assumed that the incident was meant somehow to “silence” her Tea Party group. But Tom Mannis of Chicago News Bench did a little follow up on the story and he thinks that the whole incident is overblown and more evidence of an attempt by Wojtowicz to get in the news than a report of an actual attack on the Tea Party group.
Now it is clear that something happened that day in Dugan’s Irish Pub. There was clearly some sort of small fire that caused some smoke. But there is no follow up on this incident to prove that it was some sort of attack. Dugan’s doesn’t seem to have made any reports, the media sure didn’t pick up on it, and the police don’t think there’s much reason to be alarmed. It is impossible at this date to say what happened. But it is clear that there was no “bomb threat,” and no real attempt at the Tea Party being “arsoned,” as Catherina Wojtowicz termed it.
For his part, Mr. Mannis thinks that the whole incident amounts to a fraud on Catherina Wojtowicz’ part. Mannis points out that there is no evidence for Catherina Wojtowicz’ claims that there was any message scrawled in the bathroom directing vulgarities at the Tea Party. There is no evidence of threats. There is no evidence that the trash fire was directed at the group. Further he notes that the police and fire department have determined this incident to be of very low priority. Mannis points out that only one evidence technician was sent out to investigate the incident which shows how little alarmed they are about the incident.
Whatever happened, one thing is sure: Catherina Wojtowicz tried her best to whip this thing up into a world-class story. Her overheated rhetoric — if you’ll excuse the pun — makes a mountain out of a mole’s hill.
Finally I’ll say this about my own non-reporting of this story. I do not trust Catherina Wojtowicz. I think she is a bit “out there,” if you will. This is why I did not report about the incident when it happened back in December. When I herd of the incident and heard who was involved I immediately discounted the overblown claims of a “bomb threat” to the group.
Further, much as I distrust the Old Media, the fact that not a word was told by them of this incident is telling. Tea Party groups are a subject that the Old Media loves these days. If this incident had any meat to it the Old Media would have at least mentioned it.
Again, it is clear that something happened at this meeting. But what isn’t clear is what message the smoking trash fire was meant to convey. There is no proof that the trash fire was meant as an attack on the Tea Party. But what seems clear is that it wasn’t any “arson,” nor was it a “bomb threat.”
Another thing that is clear is that Wojtowicz did her level best to whip this incident up into the story of the decade. Unfortunately for her, her arm waving was ignored by almost everyone.