On CNN, The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes said that Jerome Corsi's falsehood-laden book The Obama Nation "certainly sounds like it has some significant problems with it." Later, speaking about National Review writer David Freddoso, author of The Case Against Barack Obama, Hayes said, "[H]e's a serious reporter, and he's ... gone back, he's looked at Obama's votes in the Illinois state Senate." But Media Matters has documented numerous examples of misinformation in Freddoso's book, as well as in Corsi's.
During the August 13 edition of CNN Election Center, Stephen Hayes, senior writer for the conservative Weekly Standard, said of Jerome Corsi's falsehood-laden book The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality (Threshold Editions, August 2008): "I haven't read this Jerome Corsi book, but from the descriptions that you've given and Jessica [Yellin, CNN congressional correspondent] has given, and the piece in The New York Times, you know, it certainly sounds like it has some significant problems with it." Indeed, as Media Matters for America has documented, The Obama Nation is filled with numerous falsehoods about Sen. Barack Obama.
Hayes added that the Times article "didn't look at" The Case Against Barack Obama (Regnery, August 2008) by National Review reporter David Freddoso. Hayes said about Freddoso: "Freddoso is a serious reporter. I mean, I don't always agree with everything he says. But he's a serious reporter and he's done some of the things that David is talking about, where he's gone back, he's looked at Obama's votes in the Illinois state Senate." However, as Media Matters has also documented, Freddoso's book is also rife with misinformation about Obama.
From the August 13 edition of CNN Election Center:
CAMPBELL BROWN (host): There's a new book out about Barack Obama. It's Number 1 right now on The New York Times bestseller list. I can guarantee you, though, nobody in the Obama camp is happy at all -- at all happy about that. And here's why.
It is called Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality. The author, Jerome Corsi, also co-wrote the book Unfit for Command, which started the Swift Boating of John Kerry. Obama Nation is riddled with pretty much every unsubstantiated rumor you ever heard about Obama.
Jessica Yellin found out for us that it's also turning into a major campaign headache. And, Jessica, I know -- we know that some of the most damaging charges in this book just aren't true.
The author admits he's on a mission to take down Barack Obama. He's been slammed for books that he's written before. They're also discredited. But it's still getting an awful lot of traction.
YELLIN: It is. In this case, as you said, the book is topping bestseller lists and it's getting plenty of play in the media clearly. The big danger for the Obama campaign is that it could go viral. True or not, scandalous allegations have a way of spreading and sticking if they're not aggressively refuted, so that's what the campaign has to do, Campbell.
BROWN: All right. Jessica Yellin, very quickly for us tonight. Jessica, thanks.
I want to get a quick reaction from the panel now. And Errol [Louis, New York Daily News reporter], pretty simple question to you: Why do you think people are buying this book? And how much damage is it doing?
LOUIS: Well, let's be clear. It is possible to game the New York Times bestseller list. You can do bulk sales, which I know for a fact is going on in this case -- you buy, you know, a couple hundred books, you mail it out all over the place. There are ways if you send people out to buy in certain stores that are in key markets, you can sort of rise up, especially in a slow period like the summertime.
So getting on the list is not that hard if you want to throw enough money at it. I think, though, that there's an intense amount of interest in this campaign. It's -- we've seen it in all the newspapers, on all the news organizations. Record numbers turning out, record numbers tuning in to the debates. This is really just part of the same phenomenon in a way. I don't read it as an intense interest to read damaging things about a particular candidate at all.
BROWN: David [Brody, Christian Broadcasting Network senior correspondent], if you're the Obama campaign, you certainly remember what happened to John Kerry. I mean, how do you make sure that this isn't repeated?
BRODY: Well, I think what they've done -- and they've done a pretty good job at this, Campbell, in the past -- is talk about the nuance of it all. You know, if you look at some of those abortion votes that he had in the Illinois state Senate, I mean, they will nuance that and say, listen, it's not exactly the way the pro-lifers make it sound.
So what they'll do is if they have to, they'll go point by point and try to muddy the waters a little bit and say, listen, they've got it all wrong and there's a lot more to it. You know, I think it's very interesting it's not so much the book here, Campbell. The book plays into the narrative that conservative groups want, and that is to paint Obama as a liberal. These conservative groups have been doing it trickle, by a little bit trickling here, but it's going to be a lot more in the fall.
BROWN: And, Steve, David does make a fair point there. Is this a battle the Obama campaign is going to continue to have, book or no book, with conservatives honing in on this message, trying to raise questions about his religion, about race, about his patriotism?
HAYES: Yeah, well, I haven't read this Jerome Corsi book, but from the descriptions that you've given and Jessica has given, and the piece in The New York Times, you know, it certainly sounds like it has some significant problems with it.
What's interesting to me is that this New York Times piece today which looked at this Jerome Corsi book didn't look at the book that's Number 5 on its own bestseller list coming out this week. And that's another book about Barack Obama called The Case Against Barack Obama, written by a guy at National Review named David Freddoso.
Now, Freddoso is a serious reporter. I mean, I don't always agree with everything he says. But he's a serious reporter and he's done some of the things that David is talking about, where he's gone back, he's looked at Obama's votes in the Illinois state Senate. He's, I think, analyzed those, and it's a -- there seems to be a hunger certainly among conservatives for more information about Barack Obama than they're getting from the quote-unquote "mainstream press."