Chicago Tribune, The Hill ignored lack of evidence of impropriety in Obama stock deal


In reporting on Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) purchase of stock in two companies whose investors included donors to Obama's 2004 Senate campaign, the Chicago Tribune and The Hill failed to note that a New York Times article highlighting the 2005 purchase did not include any evidence of ethical impropriety by Obama.

On March 7, The New York Times reported that Obama's broker purchased the stock in early 2005 as part of a blind trust and quoted an Obama spokesman claiming that the senator "did not know that he had invested in either company until fall 2005, when he learned of it and decided to sell the stocks. He sold them at a net loss of $13,000." The article noted that "[t]here is no evidence that any of his actions ended up benefiting either company during the roughly eight months that he owned the stocks," and that "Senate ethics rules do not prohibit lawmakers from owning stocks -- even in companies that do business with the federal government or could benefit from legislation they advance -- and indeed other members of Congress have investments in government contractors."

On March 8, the Chicago Tribune reported that "[a]s much as $15,000 of Obama's investment was for shares in AVI BioPharma, which was working on a drug to treat avian flu," and that "Obama waged a high-profile effort for federal funding to fight avian flu, though aides pointed out that it was for early-warning systems in Asia and not for drug development." At no point, however, did the article note the lack of evidence suggesting ethical misconduct.

Similarly, The Hill reported on March 8 that Obama, at a press conference the day before, had "responded to the Times's questions about his 2005 investments in companies that some of his political donors also favored," but the paper did not note that there is no evidence any of Obama's actions benefited either company or that Obama lost money in the transactions.

Chicago Tribune, The Hill
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.