Topic: Accuracy in Media
A Sept. 22 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid is a mess of wild attacks against the Washington Post, accusing it of telling "whoppers." But Kincaid himself is engaged in his own tall-tale telling.
Noting that a John McCain attacking Barack Obama claiming that former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines is "advis[ing]" Obama is based on a statement in a Post article, Kincaid then attacks a Post fact-check that told the full story:
It seems that the Post “fact-checker,” Michael Dobbs, realized that her story was extremely damaging to Obama. So he went back to [Anita] Huslin [author of the Post profile of Raines where this claim originated] for a different version of the conversation and got her to say that Raines’s advice to Obama was about “general housing, economy issues.”
But wait. Didn’t Huslin report that Raines said that he was advising Obama on “mortgage” issues? Remember that her story said that Raines had “taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.”
Isn’t this as plain as the nose your face? Do words mean what they say?
But this would mean that the McCain ad against Obama was true. And the Post couldn’t permit itself to come to this conclusion.
Having gotten Huslin to somewhat change her story about what she had previously reported, Dobbs reported that Huslin also now believed that Raines’s advice was “Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific” and, therefore, the McCain ad was misleading.
Please understand what is happening here. Dobbs was so determined to find McCain guilty of airing an inaccurate ad that he had to take issue with the reporting of his own paper that was the basis of the ad. The only way he could find McCain guilty of running a misleading ad was to find his own paper guilty of running a misleading story. This was the price that had to be paid to save Obama from a messy situation.
Huslin got the message and changed her story so that Dobbs could bash McCain. This is how bad the bias has become at the Post. It is embarrassing the lengths to which the paper will go to protect Obama.
But that's not what the fact-check said:
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.')"
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.
Kincaid has no evidence that Dobbs somehow coerced Huslin and "got her to say" something different than what she reported and "change her story," as he suggests, let alone that anything was done specifically to "prote t Obama." Kincaid also offers no evidence, other than Huslin's apparently somewhat overstated claim, that taking a couple calls from someone in the Obama campaign makes Raines an "adviser" on the level the McCain portrays it.
Rather than demonstrating how "embarrassing the lengths to which the paper will go to protect Obama," Kincaid has instead demonstrated the embarrassing lengths he will go to smear anyone who gets in his way of promoting hard-right conservatives like Sarah Palin (and, thus, John McCain).