Honestly, if the Post's Deborah Howell's doesn't want to use the power of her ombudsman position for good, why doesn't she give over to somebody who will?
Today's column is a perfect example of Howell refusing to be straight with readers regarding very bad Post journalism. Howell looks at reader complaints regarding a quote from Obama the paper used this week after the candidate addressed Congressional Democrats behind closed doors. The Post reporter wasn't in the room, but a source emailed him the Obama quote: "'I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."
The Post's Dana Milbank then used the quote in his column to depict Obama as arrogant.
Asked about using the quote, Milbank said the source was "unimpeachable" and there was no need to verify it with others in attendance. But a couple sentences later Howell notes that "partisan blogs, Obama fans and House aides were disputing the quotation." In fact, it seems quite clear that the Post's source only passed along part of the Obama quote; the part that made him look bad.
Yet Powell still waters her verdict down and leaves readers with the impression that the episode was no big deal.
Fox & Friends aired Sen. John McCain's Web ad showing video of Democrats praising McCain, but did not air the DNC's response, which contains clips of many of the same Democrats criticizing McCain.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity asserted of Sen. Barack Obama: "I never hear the inspiring -- where is the inspiring rhetoric about how great this country is? I never hear him talk about that." In fact, Obama has regularly talked about "how great this country is"; during a speech in Iowa in January, Obama said: "Hope is the bedrock of this nation -- the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be."
On Fox News, Sean Hannity asserted, "Bill Clinton says that Barack Obama may not be ready to be president." But Clinton did not say that. Rather, during an interview with ABC's Kate Snow, Clinton said, "[Y]ou could argue that no one is ever ready to be president," adding, "I mean, I certainly learned a lot about the job in my first year." Clinton went on to praise Obama, saying that "[h]e's shown a keen strategic sense" and "he's smart as a whip."
On his radio and television shows, Bill O'Reilly criticized an Obama campaign ad for including a May 2003 statement from Sen. John McCain, in which McCain said that "there was a recent study that showed that I voted with the president 90 percent of the time." O'Reilly asserted that the "country was in a far different place" when McCain made those comments. In fact, according to a vote analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly, McCain was the administration's most reliable supporter in 2007.
On his radio show, Sean Hannity said that Sen. Barack Obama "can't point to a single instance in which President Bush or McCain or Karl Rove or Sean Hannity or talk radio or any other major Republican has made an issue of Obama's race." In fact, Hannity asserted on the March 2 edition of Hannity's America: "As more is learned about Barack Obama's positions, his past, and his affiliations, it seems that the 'change' candidate has all the same problems with race as those before him," and later added, "It's only fair to ask: Do the Obamas have a race problem of their own?" Media Matters has also documented numerous examples of other radio and TV personalities making "an issue of Obama's race."
Echoing The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, Fox News' Neil Cavuto repeated as fact a disputed version of a comment Sen. Barack Obama reportedly made in a closed-door meeting with congressional Democrats, citing it as purported evidence that Obama's "messianic thing is getting a little over the top."
The Washington Post reported that Sen. John McCain "accused" Sen. Barack Obama "of going to a gym rather than visiting wounded troops" during his recent overseas trip, but the Post did not note that the accusation is false.
In a Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove claimed that "[Sen. John McCain] opposes tax increases and [Sen. Barack] Obama favors them." In fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families, and McCain's own chief economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has reportedly said that it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes." Moreover, McCain himself recently suggested he would be open to raising Social Security payroll taxes.
On Hardball, Mike Barnicle asserted, "Barack Obama's campaign credits small donors as the big reason for their big fundraising numbers. ... So, how much has Obama raised from people who gave at least $1,000? One hundred and twelve million dollars." He later added, "That's one-third of Obama's total haul: $112 million. That's more than John McCain." But while Barnicle noted that about one-third (actually, 36.4 percent) of Obama's contributions come from contributors giving $1,000 or more, he did not note that nearly three fourths -- 74.3 percent -- of McCain's contributions come from contributors giving $1,000 or more.
In its preface, Jerome Corsi compares his new book, The Obama Nation, to his 2004 book Unfit for Command. The comparison seems apt: Just as Unfit for Command contains false attacks on Sen. John Kerry's military service, a Media Matters review finds that The Obama Nation similarly contains numerous falsehoods about Sen. Barack Obama.
In reporting the McCain campaign's attack on Sen. Barack Obama for "the $400,000 from big oil contributors" he has received, The New York Times' The Caucus blog did not point out that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. John McCain has received approximately $1.3 million from the oil and gas industry, more than triple the amount Obama has received.
Sean Hannity asked Democratic strategist Michael Brown: "Can you name any prominent Republican that has brought up -- that has said that [Sen. Barack Obama] is not patriotic, or that he's got a funny name, or that he doesn't look like those presidents on dollar bills? Do you know any prominent Republican that has said any of these things?" Indeed, there have been numerous instances of Republicans -- as well as Hannity himself -- who have questioned Obama's patriotism or brought up his "funny name."
A front-page Los Angeles Times article reported that Sen. John McCain "has attacked [Sen. Barack] Obama for canceling a visit to wounded U.S. soldiers at a military hospital because he couldn't bring reporters along. Obama's campaign has angrily disputed the charge as false and misleading." But in depicting the issue as a point of contention between the Obama and McCain campaigns, the article did not note that the McCain campaign has since acknowledged that the attack, which it had included in a campaign ad, "seem[s]" to be inaccurate. Nor did the article note that numerous reports, including a separate Times article that same day, have supported the Obama campaign's position that the attack is "false and misleading."
The Associated Press uncritically quoted Sen. John McCain's statement that "[a]s president, I have committed to balancing the budget by the end of my first term." The AP did not note that McCain and an economic adviser each reportedly said in April that he would need "eight years" to balance the budget, after he had pledged in February to balance the budget by the end of his first term. Nor did the AP mention that many economists and nonpartisan analysts have reportedly expressed skepticism about McCain's plan to balance the budget in four years.