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Tuesday, May 6, 2008
NewsBusters Puts Words in Reporter's Mouth
Topic: NewsBusters

Asserting that "a liberal print journalist has seen racism behind conservative concerns about Sen. Barack Obama," a May 6 NewsBusters post by Lyndsi Thomas claims that Washington Post writer Shankar Vedantam "asserted" in an article "that it is not Revered Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary comments that have damaged Obama, it is his race, sex and public style. If Wright were a white female who wrote her outlandish ideas in a scholarly journal, Vedantam thinks the effects would not be the same."

But Vedantam didn't "assert" anything. Indeed, there are no unattributed assertions in the article that can be interpreted to represent Vedantam's own view; Vedantam presents the article as a "thought experiment." Vedantam merely reported that "social psychologist Steven Neuberg believes that Wright has damaged the biracial Obama because, in his public persona -- as much as in his views -- he activates unconscious fears and racial stereotypes that many voters have about angry black men." Despite Thomas' suggestion that the article was about "racism behind conservative concerns" about Wright, the word "conservative" appears nowhere in Vedantam's article.

Further, Thomas does not know for a fact that Vedantam is a "liberal print journalist." As fellow MRC'er Tim Graham has a habit of doing, Thomas is conflating the views of those whom the reporter quotes with the (supposed) views of the reporter him/herself.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:08 PM EDT

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