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Saturday, July 26, 2008
AIM Column Riddled With Falsehoods, Distortions
Topic: Accuracy in Media

A July 25 Accuracy in Media column by Olavo de Carvalho ("a philosopher and the author of several books" who "writes for three very influential dailies in Brazil") aiming to smear Barack Obama is loaded with falsehoods, distortions and unsupported claims:

  • Carvalho claims that Obama said that the American flag is "to many people a symbol of violence." A quick Google search uncovered no instance in which Obama said those words.
  • Carvalho writes: "To collect funds for his campaign, he organized a lottery system - which is illegal in all 50 American states." First, lotteries are not "illegal in all 50 American states." Second, what Obama was actually accused of was a promotion that appeared to require a donation in exchange for a chance at the prize in question, considered a form of gambling that's illegal in most states; the campaign quickly moved to add language to the promotion permitting people to participate without making a donation.
  • Carvalho claims that Obama "flies everywhere in an airplane that does not meet the required security standards, and was recently forced to make an emergency landing." In fact, "required security standards" were not the problem; rather, there was an apparent mechanical problem, and there is no evidence whatsoever that Obama deliberately uses planes lacking in safety or "required security standards."
  • Cavalho enters the territory of far-right conspiracy-mongers by asserting that Obama's "dedication to covering up his past prompts him to hide his own birth certificate." Even conspiracy-happy AIM tried to distance itself from that claim, adding an "editor's note" stating, "The Obama campaign has released an alleged copy of the candidate's birth certificate, showing that he was born in Hawaii. However, some have questioned its authenticity."

Indeed, Carvalho is a font of smears in this piece. He baselessly asserts, "In the Democratic Party and U.S. big media, nobody seems to find anything strange about Obama. Even among supporters of John McCain there is some sort of tacit agreement not to hurt the opponent's feelings with demands beyond his capacity." He also asserts that Obama "listens to the Star-Spangled Banner with his hands on his genitals, and not on his heart" -- making us wonder what kind of things they teach in Brazil -- and claimed that "the candidate displays the kind of absolute trust in his own invulnerability that is so typical of revolutionary sociopaths."

Apparently, standards of journalistic accuracy in Brazil are even lower than they are at AIM.

AIM tried to distance itself further from Carvalho with the disclaimer, "Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media or its staff." But AIM does not have any auto-generated content and is under no obligation to publish views it disagrees with; all copy is, as far as we know, put through some kind of approval process before being placed on the AIM website. IN other words, somebody at AIM thought this article reflected their views to the point that it was deemed worthy to post. To pretend otherwise through a disclaimer is disingenuous.

Perhaps AIM could share with its readers the rationale for putting such a hateful, inaccurate, genital-obsessed piece of crap on its website.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:11 AM EDT

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