In an Oct. 31 NewsBusters post under the complicated headline "CNN: 'Anti-Obama' Mailer 'Cherry-picks' Obama Speech; Yet CNN Article Itself Misrepresents General Thrust of Mailer," Ken Shepherd writes:
An election season mailer linked to Focus on the Family and sent out to evangelical Christian voters in Iowa unfairly quoted President Obama out of context, CNN's Political Tracker blog complained this morning.
Yet in Peter Hamby's blog post -- Anti-Obama mail piece: ‘We are no longer a Christian nation’ -- the CNN.com staffer glossed over the fact that the other charges waged in the mailer are spot-on about areas in which the president is sharply to the left of religious conservatives on abortion, same-sex marriage, and a religious exemption for the contraception mandate[.]
Yep, that's the defense Shepherd is going with -- sure, the "Christian nation" quote is out of context, but the rest of it is true!
It's apparently so self-evident to Shepherd that the rest of the flyer is "spot-on" that he doesn't bother to prove it to the rest of us. Which should tell us that it probably isn't -- and indeed it's not.
One of the other "charges" in the flyer reads: "As a state senator, [Obama] led the fight to deny life-saving care for babies who survive abortions." As we've repeatedly pointed out, Illinois already had a law requiring medical care for a viable fetus that survived an abortion. What the flyer is referring to are efforts in 2001, 2002, and 2003 to expand that law with a "born alive" clause requiring that any fetus that survived an abortion, even ones that could not survive outside the womb, receive medical care. Obama has said he opposed those bills because the law would likely have been struck down in the courts for giving legal status to fetuses, a requirement that a second doctor be present at abortions, and their lack of a "neutrality clause" to make sure the bill would not affect current abortion laws.
Despite having essentially conceded that the flyer's "Christian nation" quote is unfair, Shepherd goes on to try and diminish its importance to Focus on the Family's argument -- even though, again, it's the topmost allegation in the flyer. He writes that "To his credit, Hamby links to photos of the mailer, which readers can peruse at their leisure. That being said, if you failed to check out the photos, you'd have the impression that the greatest charge of the mailer if that President Obama doesn't believe America is a Christian nation, when the factually-accurate charges about his stands on other social issues are the more damning charges."
But the "Christian nation" quote is the topmost quote in the flyer, directly under the headline "Compare and Decide: Your decision could not be more important." Doesn't that layout decision constitute evidence that Focus on the Family considers it to be the "greatest charge of the mailer"?
Then, Shepard insists the misleading quote isn't that important in the first place, except for being cited as a critique of conservatives who cite it:
The "Christian nation" charge by CitizenLink -- whether or not you think it's a fair one -- is more icing on the cake, not the cake itself, but it's precisely this sort of story which you can bet others in the media will run with as a cudgel to bludgeon conservatives, saying it's part and parcel of a campaign to castigate Obama as "the other."
In fact, there is an unambiguous strain of conservativism that strives to "otherize" Obama, led by MRC fave Rush Limbaugh. Shepherd shouldn't pretend it doesn't exist.