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|Democrats and Media Attack Palin and Hurt Obama|
Sep. 9th, 2008 at 12:45 pm
Some in the mainstream media are trying to revise history, claiming that Palin was treated fairly by the mainstream media during the first week of her candidacy. I threw this piece together in about an hour with the help of Google, online conservative periodicals, and my own memory. It could be much longer and have much more detail. (The original draft had more detail, but I trimmed it to make it more readable, though the analysis portion of this article is still likely to be among the least interesting things I’ve posted.)
And on September 2, Oil prices sank to the lowest point in five months.
Also on September 2, The New York Times published three front page(!) articles on Palin, all of them dealing with Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. Is it fair to cover Palin’s announcement about her daughter on the front page? It’s arguable. Is it fair to publish 3 front page articles Bristol’s pregnancy on the same day? You gotta be kidding me.
Mumiller doesn’t disclose the fact that one named source is an outspoken Obama supporter and another is a political enemy of Palin. She distorts the roll of McCain’s press team in Alaska by claiming that it is there to “look more thoroughly into Ms. Palin’s background.” And Mumiller never spoke to Arthur Culvahouse, the veteran DC attorney who handled the vetting.
The day before Mumiller’s The New York Times article appeared on newstands, the AP released a thorough article on the vetting process that actually did interview Arthur Culvahouse. The AP article reaches conclusions far different than Mumiller’s. Evidently, Mumiller didn’t see it.
And Mumiller alleged that Palin belonged to the Alaska First party without actually speaking to the Alaska First party to verify the claim. The The New York Times had to correct that portion of the story 3 days later.
It’s pretty clear at this point that Mumiller rushed to press with incomplete information without even asking Culvahouse or the Alaska First party about the details and without checking other news sources.
Is it fair to ask about the vetting? Sure. Is it fair to rush to print with incorrect facts and inadequate sources? Dan Rather lost his job for doing just that.
Also on September 2, The New York Times published “Palin Daughterâ€™s Pregnancy Interrupts G.O.P. Convention Script” by Monica Davey. This story goes after the McCain-is-self-destructing-thanks-to-Palin story. It reported that Palin announced Monday morning that her 17 year old daughter was pregnant. The reason for the announcement? To counter vicious rumors that her son Trig was her grandson. From reading the first 10 paragraphs, you’d think that she made the announcement because the McCain campaign had just found out and forced her to get the news out of the way. Is it fair to cover Palin’s announcement? Sure. Is it fair bury the reason for the announcement in the 11th and 12th paragraphs? Absolutely not.
Also on September 2, The New York Times published “In Political Realm, ‘Family Problem’ Emerges as Test,” by Adam Nagourney. This is another McCain-is-self-destructing-thanks-to-Palin story. Nagourney even gives the impression that the media discovered Bristol’s pregnancy through its crack reporting. It never notes that Palin herself disclosed the pregnancy or why. This flimsy piece of “news analysis” paints Palin’s disclosure of Bristol’s pregnancy as part of a “dribble of disclosures” that “seemed certain… to interfere with the careful effort by the McCain campaign to portray her as a socially conservative.” And it bemoans the potential impact that Bristol’s pregnancy might have on evangelical voters (never before has the mainstream media been so exquisitely sensitive about evangelicals’ feelings). Is it fair to discuss the potential impact of the pregnancy story on the media? Sure. Is it fair to paint Palin as embattled and the McCain campaign bleeding due to their choice of her? If it didn’t seem ridiculous at the time, it sure seems ridiculous now.
On September 2, The Washington Post published “Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms,” by Paul Kane. This article plays to the Palin-as-hypocrite-with-pregnant-teen-daughter story. Indeed, Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is the only reason a reporter would discuss Palin’s funding decisions for Covenant House Alaska during week 1 of her candidacy.
Kane alleges that Palin “used her line-item veto to slash funding for [Covenant House Alaska,] a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live…. Palin reduced funding… by more than 20%, cutting funds from $5M to $3.9M.”
Kane does not indicate that the program’s budget for the previous 2 years was between $1.2M and $1.3M. In other words, Palin tripled spending on Covenant House Alaska, and Kane refers to it as a cut, because she did not increase spending as much as the legislature proposed.
Kane also fails to indicate that Covenant House Alaska does much more than work with pregnant teens, and none of the state money was exclusively earmarked for that. The details of this story are here.
Is it fair to ask about Palin’s outlook on state funding for programs that help at-risk teens? Sure. Is it fair to focus exclusively on the pregnant-teen aspect of a broader story? Not really. Is it fair to exclude discussion of previous years’ budgets, and to say that Palin slashed funding when she tripled it? No, it’s dishonest.
On September 3, AP reporter Ron Fournier reported that a $4,500 contribution by an oil company to Palin’s campaign for lieutenant governor makes Palin, “beholden to Alaska’s old guard.” This is one of those Palin-is-a-fake stories. Is it fair to look at donors to Palin’s campaign? Yep. Is it fair to conclude that $4,500 donated six years ago makes one beholden? You’ve got to be kidding me. As Kevin D. Williamson said at The National Review Online, “If $4,500, six years ago — call it $750 a year — makes one ‘beholden,’ then you could lease an entire congressional subcommittee for about $25,000 a year.”
What is most unfair about these types of stories is this: The media outlets rushed to shape a negative perception of Palin and of her impact on the McCain campaign. They scrambled to grasp a gotcha! moments, create self-fulfilling prophecies, and reserve the “I told you so” rights to Palin’s ensuing political demise. In their rush to judgment, leading media outlets drew conclusions much too far in advance of the facts. The proof of this can be found in the actual events that subsequently unfolded. Beyond that, if you read the articles critically, then you will see that each story’s plausibility relies less on actual events and actions than on artfully contrived writing that omitted key facts, mangled key facts, and buried key facts deep in the article after negative conclusions have already been stated. In other words, each article is laden with distortion.
Four of these five stories are “straight news” stories. The other one is “news analysis.” None of these are editorials or opinion articles. If we included opinion articles, we could have a field day with Sally Quinn’s article attacking Palin for wanting to tackle the VP position as a working mother. Maureen Dowd’s piece is too bizarre to summarize in a sentence. And that’s just the commentary in the big-ticket newspapers and news weeklies. The further afield you cast the net, the worse it gets — witness US Weekly or MSNBC.
If we include what the political opposition is saying, than we could include the accusation by Florida Congressman Robert Wexler (D) that she backed “Nazi Sympathizer” Pat Buchanan. Or Howard Gutman, a long-time member of Obama’s National Finance Committee’s, who challenged whether the office of Vice President was good for a working mother, and objected to Palin, because he believes that she is putting her career above her family.
This unfair coverage has backfired. Thanks to negative coverage, Palin’s convention speech garnered almost as many viewers as Obama’s, and McCain’s got more. Moreover, the savage attacks by some of the biggest names in political punditry have cemented the notion that McCain and Palin are outsiders, taking thunder from Obama and Biden.
Thanks to the media’s blatant bias in favor of Obama, Palin may cost Obama the election. As GK Chesterton wrote, “When a man believes that any stick will do, he at once picks up a boomerang.”