Flushing their credibility

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 19, 2008

Last week, I pointed out that the Boston Globe had seemingly retracted 8-year-old reporting on Sen. John McCain's physical disabilities due to wounds suffered at the hands of the North Vietnamese in order not to contradict a new ad by Sen. Barack Obama's campaign portraying McCain as a luddite.

Well, the pattern is repeating itself this week with a different newspaper.

Over the past two days, McCain has run these two ads tying Obama to failed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Obama has had relationships to one degree or another with two former CEOs who cooked the books to enrich themselves and have now saddled taxpayers with the bills.

The supporting evidence for the first ad is a Washington Post report and editorial connecting Raines to Obama. It was a something that no one -- not Raines nor the Obama campaign -- objected to when it was first published two months ago.

Now, however, Obama objects. He claims not to know this Raines fellow and the Post is happy to help.

The Obama campaign last night issued a statement by Raines insisting, "I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters." Obama spokesman Bill Burton went a little further, telling me in an e-mail that the campaign had "neither sought nor received" advice from Raines "on any matter."

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."

Since this has now become a campaign issue, 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.')"

So, the Post gives "Two Pinnochios" to McCain for relying on the Post's own reporting.

Which leaves honest people like National Journal's Stuart Taylor to decry "I no longer trust the major newspapers or television networks to provide consistently accurate and fair reporting and analysis of all the charges and countercharges."

Taylor notes the mainstream media's failure to call the Obama campaign on:

  • His dishonest linking of McCain and Rush Limbaugh on immigration in a Spanish-language radio ad. McCain and Limbaugh have been on different sides of the immigration issue and the quotes used by the Obama campaign take Rush so out of context that the ad cannot be described as anything more than an egregious slander.
  • The media's taking the Obama campaign's word on a proposed bill on sex education in Illinois supported by Obama. Obama explained that he supported it because it would teach children as young as kindergarten about "inappropriate touching." However, reading the bill itself contains no reference to "inappropriate touching." And, as National Review's Byron York reported, the text of the bill cited in a McCain ad actually supports McCain's case.
  • Obama's continued misquoting of McCain's assertion that how long we are in Iraq doesn't matter. What matters is casualties. McCain linked Iraq to the U.S. military presence in places like Germany, South Korea and Japan -- pointing out that it wouldn't matter if we were there 100 years as long as Americans weren't dying. Obama turned that into McCain wanting a "hundred years war."

And there are more.

And the media is wondering why advertising revenues, readership and viewership continue to decline?

Wound. Self-inflicted.


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September 2008



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