An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia
Exhibit 52: CNS' Obama Word Obsession
CNSNews.com, led by editor in chief Terry Jeffrey, is fixated on every single word the president says -- or doesn't say.
By Terry Krepel
When CNSNews.com hasn't been trying to attack the Obama administration by trying (and mostly failing) to blow up non-stories into real ones, it's been obsessed to an almost pathological level with every single word President Obama says -- or doesn't say.
CNS, it seems, spends an inordinate amount of time combing through every public utterance by the president, often honing in on Obama's usage or omittance of a specific word, or how many times he uses a specific word.
CNS started this fixation early in Obama's presidency. A March 24, 2009, article by editor in chief Terry Jeffrey carries the headline "Obama Used ‘Invest’ or ‘Investment’ 18 Times in Press Conference to Describe Government Deficit Spending." Indeed, Jeffrey details all 18 times Obama used the term in a press conference.
Jeffrey explained his offense by writing that "investing money is something private individuals and businesses do on the calculation that they will get back more money than they put into a particular enterprise," and the "deficit spending" the government would undertake meant that it would "borrow moneypart of it from foreign sourcesand then charge future taxpayers to pay the interest on the borrowed money."
Jeffrey complained again in an April 29, 2009, article that "In another primetime press conference last night, Obama again used the term “investment” three times to describe the deficit spending," again insisting that "Investing is something private individuals or companies do with their own money," not government.
CNS moved on to a different word fixation in a May 7, 2009, article by Penny Starr on Obama's National Day of Prayer proclamation, reaching back 150 years for that word fixation. In President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 proclamation, Starr wrote, "God is mentioned five times and emphasizes God’s dominion over the nation, the need for people to repent, and the divine nature of the Bible." But, she huffed, "Obama’s proclamation mentions God once ... and also refers to people who don’t believe in God, which is tied to a reference to the U.S. military."
Starr went on to draw other parallels in order to denigrate Obama, stating that "Lincoln’s proclamation calls on people to worship God and keep the National Day of Prayer 'holy'" while "Obama’s directive is secular in nature." Starr also complained that "Obama does not refer to the Bible but to the 'Golden Rule' or the “ethic of reciprocity” sometimes linked to verses in the Bible and other religious books."
Jeffrey's fixation, meanwhile, returned with a vengeance in the opening of his June 3, 2009, column: "President Obama used the first-person singular pronoun 'I' 34 times on Monday when he announced he was nationalizing General Motors. He used 'Congress' once and 'law' not at all." To drive the point home, Jeffrey sneeringly referred to the president throughout his column as "I, Barack."
And Jeffrey hadn't gotten over Obama's use of "invest" -- a Sept. 7 article carried the overly long headline "Obama Used ‘Invest,’ ‘Investing,’ or ‘Investment’ Seven Times in Labor Day Speech to Describe Federal Spending and Special-Interest Tax Loopholes." Jeffrey whined:
In his Labor Day speech Obama used “invest,” “investing” or “investment” to describe situations in which the government takes money via taxes from one person or institution and gives it to another person or institution, a situation that seems to comport better with the Merriam-Webster Online definition of “redistribution” than “investment.” Redistribution, according to Merriam-Webster, means “to alter the distribution of: reallocate."
Jeffrey continued to cement his position as CNS' chief word obsessive with a Sept. 29 article fixated on a two-letter word: "President Barack Obama referred to illegal aliens in the United States as 'us' on Tuesday while renewing his call for giving them a 'pathway to citizenship'an amnesty--and castigating opponents of such an amnesty as demagogues."
Jeffrey didn't explain why "illegal aliens" are not "us" -- presumably, he thinks they are a "them." If he can't explain the difference, there must not be one. Further, as ConWebWatch has detailed, Obama's proposed "pathway to citizenship" is not "an amnesty," and Jeffrey doesn't explain how Obama's pathway conditions of paying fines and back taxes, learning English and not having a criminal record constitute "amnesty."
What could possibly be offensive about paraphrasing the Declaration? The full quote states that people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." The omission of the word "Creator" caused right-wingers to baselessly presume the omission was intentional, even though Obama had included the word in other speeches and none other than staunch conservative Newt Gingrich had made a similar Creator-less paraphrase without incident.
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah had his own first-class freak-out over the omission, declaring in his Sept. 22 column that it was "not an accident" or "an innocent mistake" but, rather, nothing less than "an attempt at deicide by Obama," not to mention "Obama's way of stripping from America's consciousness the notion that liberty's underpinnings require direct accountability and responsibility to the Creator, not man-made government." Farah continued to screech:
That's what Obama would like us to do to forget about God, to forget that our unique experiment in liberty owes its success to a creed recorded in the Declaration of Independence, to forget that the acceptance of biblical morality is a requirement of self-government, to forget that we have a choice of the rule of law or the rule of men.
Jeffrey may hate Obama, but it's nowhere near as mouth-foaming rabid as Farah's; he's much more content to nitpick the president to death. When Jeffrey finally weighed in in a Sept. 27 article, it was to highlight a new example: "Just seven days after he sparked controversy by omitting the word 'Creator' when he closely paraphrased the passage from the Declaration of Independence that says all men 'are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,' President Barack Obama again omitted the Creator when speaking about the 'inalienable rights' that 'everybody is endowed with.'" Of course, Obama didn't "spark the controversy"; obsessed right-wingers like Jeffrey did.
Amazingly, Jeffrey attempted a modicum of fairness by noting that "On other occasions, Obama has correctly cited the famous passage from the Declaration without removing the Creator."
From then on, CNS was on full-time "Creator" patrol. An Oct. 19 article by Penny Starr (with Fred Lucas) stated that "For the second time in little over a month, President Barack Obama stripped the word 'Creator' from the Declaration of Independence when giving a speech." Starr and Lucas didn't note, as their boss did, that Obama has previously corrected the passage.
That attack ran out of steam as well. An Oct. 25 article by Lucas stated: "On the campaign trail for Democrats in recent days, President Barack Obama said the word “Creator” when quoting the Declaration of Independence, although he omitted the word in several earlier speeches this year. The addition of 'Creator' came after press reports noted the omission in Obama's earlier speeches." This time, Lucas noted that "Obama on several previous occasions did include the term 'Creator' when citing the declaration."
(That article resulted in numerous hateful comments by CNS readers, deleted when CNS moved to a new comment platform but preserved on ConWebBlog.)
Lucas followed up the next day by quoting White House press secretary Robert Gibbs saying no one should "read anything into" Obama's omission of the word or that, in Lucas' words, "the fact that he began using the word after the White House was questioned about the omission."
The end of that meme meant that CNS had to scrounge up some new Obama words to focus on. So we have an Oct. 26 article by Starr stating that "President Barack Obama repeatedly has called the United States a 'big, messy Democracy' in his many campaign stops around the country in recent weeks."
That's pretty much the entire story; Starr doesn't explain why those words are so offensive. But they sound like they might be, which appears to be good enough for CNS.