Patterico's Pontifications

9/20/2008

Washington Post Elbows Its Way Past Time Into The Lead In The Race For The Title of “Least Journalistic Integrity”

Filed under: 2008 Election,General,Media Bias — WLS @ 1:02 pm



[Posted by WLS]

Washington Post “Fact-Checker” Michael Dobbs takes on his own newspaper’s account of Barack Obama’s connection to Franklin Raines as portrayed by the McCain’s new ad.

Dobbs’s verdict?

He says the Post‘s article, editorial, and one other reference to the Obama-Raines connection were all based on one reporter’s interview with Raines — and yet while the characterization of the paper was never challenged by Obama or Raines, the verdict is that the McCain campaign is:

…clearly exaggerating wildly in attempting to depict Franklin Raines as a close adviser to Obama on “housing and mortgage policy.”

According to Dobbs’s “investigation” — his conversation with business writer Anita Huslin who wrote the piece in July, his review of Raines statement issued by the Obama campaign last night (I thought he didn’t have any connection with the campaign?? He couldn’t release his own statement?), and conversations with the Obama campaign — the situation is as follows:

So what evidence does the McCain campaign have for the supposed Obama-Raines connection? It is pretty flimsy, but it is not made up completely out of whole cloth. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers points to three items in the Washington Post in July and August. It turns out that the three items (including an editorial) all rely on the same single conversation, between Raines and a Washington Post business reporter, Anita Huslin, who wrote a profile of the discredited Fannie Mae boss that appeared on July 16. The profile reported that Raines, who retired from Fannie Mae four years ago, had “taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.”

… I asked Huslin to provide the exact circumstances of the quote. She explained that she was chatting with Raines during the photo shoot, and asked “if he was engaged at all with the Democrats’ quest for the White House. He said that he had gotten a couple of calls from the Obama campaign. I asked him about what, and he said ‘oh, general housing, economy issues.’ (‘Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific,’ I asked, and he said ‘no.’)”

By Raines’s own account, he took a couple of calls from someone on the Obama campaign, and they had some general discussions about economic issues. I have asked both Raines and the Obama people for more details on these calls and will let you know if I receive a reply.

In other words, McCain’s characterization of the article is exactly as it was written. But once the Obama campaign provides him with more self-serving propaganda with which he can call the McCain campaign a liar, he’ll get back to us.

Where is the criticism of Huslin for putting a casual comment by Raines during a photo shoot in the first paragraph of her story suggesting he’s a player in the Obama campaign? If Dobbs is going to bang on the McCain campaign for relying on Huslin’s own words, why not bang on Huslin — since it appears that it was her, and not McCain, that made more out of the relationship that was warranted . . . that is, taking the Raines and Obama denials at face value.

Is the McCain camp expected to be clairvoyant? Should they have solicited confirmation of the Washington Post‘s claims from the Obama camp or Raines himself? Do they need to start calling reporters to ask if they really meant what they said in their articles??

Maybe Dobbs would prefer the McCain campaign to ad to the little blurb at the end of every ad something like:

I”m John McCain, and I approve this message. But the Obama campaign disagrees and here is their statement in response ….”

I’m giving Washington Post 2 points for this beauty — it not only takes down the McCain campaign as a liar by giving him two “Pinocchio Noses,” it extricates itself from any responsibility whatsoever for McCain’s actions whatsoever.

Score:

Washington Post 2 — Time 1.

— WLS

P.S. BY PATTERICO: And another “fact-checking” site loses my respect. Add it to Snopes and “Politifact” as another example of a site that has lost any credibility, due to its becoming a fact-bending organ of pro-Obama nonsense. And to think that I’d praised these fact-checking sites just a few weeks ago.

21 Responses to “Washington Post Elbows Its Way Past Time Into The Lead In The Race For The Title of “Least Journalistic Integrity””

  1. This might sound a teensy bit pessimistic, but the most realistic approach might be to hope for the best while expecting the worst.

    Icy Truth (ab2f41)

  2. It’s one thing to realize reporters can be biased so take everything you read with a grain of salt. It’s another to find out their “reports” may be based on an off-hand, unconfirmed chat. Is this what reporting is about? In my town, we call it gossip.

    PS – Patterico: They were good fact-checking sites a few weeks ago. Of course, that was when the race was between Hillary and Obama and they weren’t sure who to favor.

    DRJ (0754ed)

  3. I can appreciate that anyone relying on facts supplied by MSM reporters may be brewing some pretty weak tea, but occasionally we’re all forced to rely on them for something. I’m curious why we should give more weight to the Obama campaign’s “self-serving” denials now that Raines is even more radioactive, than to the contemporaneous, unguarded statements of Raines himself who presumably had no reason to fib.

    Just because Raines was a double secret advisor months ago when he was only mildly toxic, doesn’t make McCain wrong. It reminds me of Joe Scarborough bringing up Jim Johnson’s name as an Obama advisor on V.P. selection and Andrea Mitchell helpfully correcting him that “… no he left the campaign months ago.” O.K. he’s got bus tracks on his back and it’s past tense; it’s not like it happened in a past life before he was reincarnated.

    capitano (211a15)

  4. WLS:

    Is the McCain camp expected to be clairivoyant? Should they have solicited confirmation of the Washington Post’s claims from the Obama camp or Raines himself? Do they need to start calling reporters to ask if they really meant what they said in their articles??

    Am I missing something here? Yes, when you state that someone like Frank Raines, is a “Top Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign” on the merit of a couple of general phone calls regarding the economy, you need some tangible due diligence or proof to back that up. Please point to it. Point to where the McCain made any good faith effort to show that description of Raines.

    Where did anyone, In the WashPo or in the Obama campaign, or anywhere else for that matter, ever say Raines was a “Top Economic Adviser to Obama?”

    If you find proof of that WLS or Pat, I will retract this as an issue and apologize. Until that time that aid is as phony as a three dollar bill and joins the preponderance of evidence building, that the McCain people play fast and loose with the truth and exaggerate in an effort to keep the Obama campaign off balance. And if that’s the aim, it would make sense that it wouldn’t matter how factual their claims are as long as they present a strong offensive posture and a tone of derision.

    Patterico:

    And another “fact-checking” site loses my respect.

    Why? Ultimately the responsibility for the ad fall son the shoulders of the campaign responsible for it. They should’ve vetted the information and established redundant sources and a viable attempt at due diligence. And as I said above, that is obviously not an serious concern for the McCain campaign. We’ve seen over and over with the string of ads they’ve put out, and various statements and even the pick of Sarah Palin that the JM campaign cares about nothing at this point but winning and vetting of the truth or sources or even a VP running mate is made on a criteria not built on substantial stuff or honor but winning.

    Seems you’re ready to cut loose any media organization that actually challenges the McCain Campaign, and that’s fine, but don’t pretend that means that your concern is about the truth, but rather your choice of President.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  5. I am shocked you are shocked. Yeah, they are in the bag for Obama. The Washington Post calls McCain a liar for quoting the Washington Post! Althouse agreed McCain quoted it accurately–which means if it is not true than Raines is a liar. http://althouse.blogspot.com/2008/09/so-is-franklin-raines-obama-economic.html I do not care if they hold both campaign’s feet to the fire on fact checking, but for crickedy sakes keep it fair. Is the WaPo taking objectivity lessons from Andrew Sullivan now?

    Now you know how Oklahoma University fans felt when they got “Ducked” in Oregon two years ago.

    Joe (8102a5)

  6. Ace is of course on other Obama staffers who are responsible for the Fannie Freddie meltdown: http://ace.mu.nu/archives/273883.php

    And of course Freddie’s CEO helped pick Biden for Veep.

    Joe (8102a5)

  7. That’s right. It isn’t the fact-checker’s fault; it’s the fault of the organization they’re checking up on. You should only expect them to get it right when the source they’re checking got things right in the first place. ‘Cause ya know that’s all they’re really doing, don’t ya? just repeating what the campaign says — NOT doing any independent verification (they just say they do). That’s why, by Peterian Logic, it was IMPOSSIBLE for the independent fact-checkers to get it right — because McCain’s own fact-checkers ‘got it wrong’.

    Icy Truth (ab2f41)

  8. Where did anyone, In the WashPo or in the Obama campaign, or anywhere else for that matter, ever say Raines was a “Top Economic Adviser to Obama?”

    I know you haven’t actually watched the ad, but try and get you facts straight before spewing once in a while please. Nowhere in the ad does he call Raines a top economic adviser, in fact almost the entire ad is comprised of quotes from news sources.

    Taltos (4dc0e8)

  9. Here’s another name that should be put int the spotlight…Penny Pritzker. Google it and see what role she had in the financial mess, and what she does now for Barry O…

    fmfnavydoc (0dd45c)

  10. Am I missing something here? Yes, when you state that someone like Frank Raines, is a “Top Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign” on the merit of a couple of general phone calls regarding the economy, you need some tangible due diligence or proof to back that up. Please point to it. Point to where the McCain made any good faith effort to show that description of Raines.

    Straw man. McCain’s commercial does not refer to Raines as a “Top Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign.”

    What the commercial did say was that Obama’s campaign turned to Raines for advice.

    Which is pretty much the truth.

    Steverino (db5760)

  11. Shhhh, don’t distract Petey from his mendacious meme of the day. If this one doesn’t stick, don’t worry – he’ll come up with another original pile tomorrow.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  12. #8 Taltos

    Nowhere in the ad does he call Raines a top economic adviser, in fact almost the entire ad is comprised of quotes from news sources.

    Ugh. Yes, you’re right. Fuck if I know why I thought it explicitly stated that, although it is very much implied that Frank Raines is his only and principle economic advisor. Anyhow, my bad. I did miss something obviously. Although I could swear I read something Tucker Bounds or one of the other JM spokesmen saying specifically that Raines was a “top economic advisor.”

    Alrighty then. And let that be a lesson to you.

    Ahem.

    *Exits stage left*

    Peter (e70d1c)

  13. On the topic of veracity:

    Peter, let me ask you a question: Was Obama telling the truth when he said he had never heard Reverend Wright make those hateful and bigoted statements?

    A simple yes or no will suffice.

    Ropelight (b9f273)

  14. So now we have that paragon of unhinged Leftism (HuffPo) pointing the finger at their own Messiah and Pritzker:

    http://astuteblogger.blogspot.com/2008/09/sub-prime-slime-obama-and-pritzker-and.html

    What will the nutroots say now? I’m thinking not much from here on out, if they have any sense left.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  15. This election is getting really partisan and passionate, so let’s give Peter props for looking at the McCain ad and partially revising his opinion.

    DRJ (0754ed)

  16. I don’t know about the others, but Snopes didn’t become biased a mere few weeks ago. They’ve had a problem for years.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  17. Yeah, they’ve been especially bad on the “Terror in the Skies” issue, etc. And they still haven’t corrected the error about Obama’s promise not to run for a national office in 2008.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  18. “…so let’s give Peter props for looking at the McCain ad and partially revising his opinion.”

    Agreed.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  19. …principal economic advisor…

    Well, if it isn’t Raines, who is it?
    Jim Leach, who co-wrote Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and is Chmn of Repubs for Obama?
    Robert Rubin, who promoted G-L-B and encouraged Clinton to sign it?
    And, just who were all of those suits back-stopping “The One” the other day when he was not telling us what his economic plan his?

    Another Drew (0d32b9)

  20. …and, another thing:
    Only two (2) Senators DID NOT vote for/against G-L-B.
    Fitzgerald (D-IL) who voted “Present”; and
    McCain (R-AZ) who was out of town and did not vote.

    Another Drew (0d32b9)

  21. Peter — bravo. You have my respect.

    WLS (c1b09d)


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