NYTs' awkward attempt to hype the Blago/Obama story

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

We doubt this is how the craft is taught at Columbia J-School [emphasis added]:

Although prosecutors said Mr. Obama was not implicated in their investigation, the accusations of naked greed and brazen influence-peddling have raised questions from some about the political culture in which the President-elect began his career.

Notes Dan Kennedy:

Thus does [the Times' Jack] Healy follow two crucial rules in cranking out garbage like this: use the passive voice, and darkly allude to the raising of questions.

The larger point is that in order for the Beltway press to gin up the Blago story this week, basic journalism guidelines had to be set aside and in some cases brazenly ignored. That's the only way this story worked because simply reporting the facts as presented by the prosecutors would have made it painfully clear that, in terms of Obama's involvement, there was none. In fact, Obama had thwarted Blago's money-making scheme.

But that wasn't the story the press wanted to tell. (i.e. Obama the reformer rebukes corrupt local pol.) So lots of reporters and pundits consciously, and often systematically, took it upon themselves to make the story more appealing.

Oh yeah, who are the crucial "some" at the center of the all-important scandal? The Times later ID's them as "Republican leaders." In other words, partisan sniping. Well, that is newsworthy

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