Add a new example to the right's long list of baseless, unsourced claims of “corrupt” practices that the Obama administration is using to pass health care reform: the UK's Telegraph is reporting that President Obama “has said he will not campaign for any Democratic congressmen who fails to support health care reform.” The Drudge Report, Fox Nation, and NRO's Kathyrn Jean Lopez are all running with the story.
The Telegraph story is notable for what it is missing: anything resembling evidence. The article includes no sources -- named or unnamed -- making the claim that Obama has directly linked campaign fundraising with representatives' votes on health care reform. How do they know that Obama “has said” this? We don't know. The Telegraph simply asserts it as fact, and writes an entire article around this apparently baseless claim.
This latest extraordinary claim with no evidence follows Dick Morris' baseless conspiracy theory that Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) is facing an ethics investigation because he voted against health care reform; the completely baseless accusation by The Weekly Standard's John McCormack that President Obama is buying Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) vote on health care reform by appointing his brother, Scott Matheson, to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Weekly Standard writer Michael Goldfarb's bizarre, ever-shifting claim that the White House was “threatening to close” Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base “to extort” Sen. Ben Nelson's vote.
All of these conspiracy theories have certain commonalities: Their proponents made extraordinary claims -- leading the right-wing media to trumpet their claims -- but had no evidence to support their allegations -- leading the right-wing media to rush away just as quickly before dropping their allegations down the memory hole.
The Telegraph story looks like more of the same. As Eric Boehlert has pointed out, credible media organizations would do well to avoid British tabloid stories, as their reporters have a striking tendency to just make stuff up. For that matter, given their track record, credible media might want to stay away from right-wing-generated stories about the Obama administration's attempt to pass health care reform.