Thursday, November 29, 2007

"There are internet rumors that Perry Bacon had an affair with a spider monkey, despite Bacon's denials"

This article by Perry Bacon at The Washington Post is disgusting. The Lede?:
Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him

Hey, anybody want to know what Obama's "Muslim ties" are? Well, he had a stepdad who infrequently practiced Islam and he lived in a majority Muslim country from kindergarten to 4th grade.

That's it.

But despite that, the Washington Post devotes a front page story to telling you that there are... internet rumors that he's actually a radical Muslim waiting to destroy America from the inside. Don't believe me? Here's the third paragraph:
Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.

That's on the front page of the the Washington Post today.

The evidence that Obama might be Muslim: 2 partisan conservative rags ran hit pieces saying he might be, and some "internet rumors" mentioned on

The evidence against? Obama's own books in which he discusses his transition from skeptic to Christian in Chicago; his long-time membership in a United Church of Christ church on Chicago's south side and the confirmation of his beliefs by no fewer than 5 of its ministers; the fact that he regularly confesses his Christian faith in public; the fact that said conservative rags are unable to point to any evidence whatsoever that he's Muslim; the fact that the Snopes article mentioned in the Post actually says that the rumors are false (the Post article, by the way, fails to mention that Snopes found the rumors to be false. Ace reporting there, Bacon!); and the fact that we're talking about f*#king chain emails. For God's sake, people, this is the same medium from which we learn that the Qu'ran predicts the American conquest of Iraq in glowing, peaceful terms, where we are shown doctored photos of John Kerry protesting beside Jane Fonda, and tells us that Microsoft is dying to give us a nickel for every person we forward an email to!

Anyone with eyes to see can tell immediately there's no case here, and that all this unsubstantiated rumor has no grounding in reality, in all likelihood having been cooked up by political enemies to sink Obama's campaign. But here's how the Post weighs in on the merits:
Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim... Obama aides sharply disputed the initial stories suggesting that he was a Muslim,... After Obama denied the rumor, Jeffrey Kuhner, Insight's editor, said Obama's "concealment and deception was to be the issue, not so much his Muslim heritage,"... Conservative talk-show hosts have occasionally repeated the rumor... The rumors about Obama have been echoed on Internet message boards and chain e-mails... Bryan Keelin of Charleston, S.C., who works with an organization of churches there, posted on an Internet board his suspicion that Obama is a Muslim... A CBS News poll in August showed that a huge number of voters said they did not know Obama's faith..."

This is what gutlessness and laziness look like when enshrined in newspaper ink. Isn't the point of the press to find and disseminate the truth? The unwillingness to make at least some judgment call as to what is trustworthy information and what is not (or even just to sift out the basest rumor and innuendo) leads to the reporter wasting his own (and our) time publishing things that are simply not true. Thus the reporter is actually working against his own office.

Digby put it better than I did:
According to the Washington Post "Republicans say Barack Obama is a Muslim and Obama says he isn't" is a legitimate story. Modern campaign journalism in all it glory.

No comments: