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July 01, 2009

Politico Beclowns Itself in Sanford-esque Love of Mistress Obam; Claims, of Its Own Authority, That Obama Did Not Know Questions Which His Staffers Chose for Him

Earlier Chip Reid and Helen Thomas (!) slammed Gibbs for Obama's fake "town hall," in which questioners and questions would be chosen by Obama's staffers.

Although both objected to the process, neither remembered to ask about the fact that Obama would know the questions ahead of time. Thus giving a false appearance that he was prepared to answer any question put to him, when in fact he'd already worked out the answers for the questions he chose to ask himself.

Check out Politico's claim:

After receiving hundreds of questions through the White House website and social networking sites, President Barack Obama took up just seven of them Wednesday at a health care town hall.

The event was touted as a way to open the process and invite questions from voters around the country via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. But two of the three audience questions came from two groups that are largely supportive of the president, Health Care for America Now and the Service Employees International Union.


Before the event even began, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took heat during his daily briefing for the White House prescreening questions and hand-selecting the invitees. Northern Virginia Community College, which hosted the event, and the White House Office of Public Engagement chose the 200 people in attendance, and other aides selected the questions although the president did not know what he would be asked.

Read that again: Politico is not reporting that the White House claims Obama did not know what he would be asked. It is reporting, as a fact, not "claimed" by anyone but independently verified by Politico, that Obama did not know what he would be asked.

This is laughable. We are talking about a thin-skinned, media-controlling, image-obsessed Teleprompter-addicted celebrity-in-chief. But Politico tells us, straight up, no caveat, he just didn't know the questions ahead of time.

I have long been annoyed by the way the media chooses to say one side or the other argues something. I have long noticed that when Republicans say something, the media says Republicans claim, which is a scare-word suggesting that while they claim it, it's untrue. "Claim" usually has that negative connotation. The "false" of "false claim" is usually read as gloss on claim.

When Democrats argue something, the neutral words "argue" or "say" are used. Or, better yet still, the positive word believe. "Believe," notice, is unlike "claim" in that someone can claim something they don't actually believe, but if you believe it, obviously you're not lying about your beliefs.

Thus my favorite form of reporting: "Republicans claim... but Democrats believe..." Never the opposite, unless the reporter gets carelress. The positive-sounding word is used for Democrats, the negative-sounding one for Republicans.

If someone truly believes something, and his opponent merely "claims" the opposite, who are you predisposed to believe? Right. Well, that's quite intentional.

I do this myself. When I want to express skepticism about a report, I'll start the headline "Claim:" and then restate the claim. When I'm less skeptical, I'll use the less-negative, less-doubtful "Report:".

But even worse than this is the media's tendency to omit the "argue" or "claim" word entirely when it comes to Democrats, and simply report as verified facts what are more accurately described as the claims as of an interested party.

As Politico does here-- no one in the White House "claims" Obama didn't know the questions. To even report someone is "claiming" this would raise questions in the reader about how credible this claim is in the first place -- which Politico doesn't want to do. So they just take out the "claim" entirely and report it as objective fact.

When this reporter/fan club chapter president was typing up her little newsletter, she realized the word "claim" had negative connotations and tended to draw attention to a claim which was risible on its face. Not being able to think of any synonym which didn't call attention to the ridiculous claim, she simply edited out "claim" and reported it as a fact.

Nicely done.

Thanks to AHFF Geoff.

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posted by Ace at 04:31 PM

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