The story of HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson’s public statement describing his desire to avoid rewarding critics of President Bush by giving them contracts might have died quickly if Jackson had been allowed to react as he originally intended.

His remarks were first reported in a May 5, 2006, story in the Dallas Business Journal. When his public affairs staff asked Jackson about the report, he told them he had not said what was attributed to him.

But because the story’s writers had captured Jackson’s speech patterns, HUD spokeswoman Dustee Tucker assumed the authors had taped the speech. She and her boss told Jackson that denying he made those remarks was not an option.

No one asked if there was a recording. It turns out there was no tape. Reporter Christine Perez had simply typed a verbatim transcript on her laptop.

If the HUD PR folks had known that before they responded publicly, would Jackson have admitted to anything, and would the story have led to an investigation by the Inspector General? We’ll never know.