We don't normally comment on foreign press coverage of the Beltway, but this news report from Murdoch's Times of London regarding the Blago saga is so egregious, so dishonest and so bad, we thought it deserved attention. Especially in light of the fact how we noted last week that Murdoch's WSJ seemed to be straining the facts in order to hype the Blago story with an anti-Obama spin. Question: Has Murdoch issued marching orders to all his news orgs about this "scandal"?
Times of London headline: "Senate scandal snares Obama's chief aide."
The aide in question is Rahm Emanuel and as we pointed out last week Emanuel is not the target of any Blago-related investigation because he did nothing wrong. But the fact that Emanuel was referenced on the Blago wiretaps doing nothing wrong means to the Times that he's been "ensnared."
It gets worse. Here's the lead as written by Sarah Baxter [emphasis added]:
The bullish, foul-mouthed but effective Chicago arm-twister Rahm Emanuel has come under pressure to resign as Barack Obama's chief of staff after it was revealed that he had been captured on court-approved wire-taps discussing the names of candidates for Obama's Senate seat.
That's a new claim and the newspaper makes it in the article's very first sentence: Emanuel is under pressure to resign?! By whom, is the obvious question. Behold the Times' answer: "Grover Norquist, an influential conservative tax reform lobbyist." We kid you not. A professional GOP partisan throws out a pointless silly claim that Emanuel should be fired and Murdoch's newspaper treats it as breaking news.
Amazingly, the article gets even worse as Baxter, in a supposed news article, just becomes unhinged with the rhetoric in terms of Blago's impact on the president-elect:
-"the spiralling controversy has been an alarming distraction"
-"the scandal is lapping at Obama's own ankles."
-"Obama is himself embroiled in a sub-plot of the scandal with uncomfortable connections to Blagojevich"
Baxter also fantasizes in print about what might have occurred:
-"[Emanuel] may have been fully aware of what Blagojevich was attempting."
And about what might happen in the future:
-"If he were to throw him out of the inner circle now with his reputation under siege, it would be a singular act of disloyalty before the transition team has even had a chance to take office."
And it gets even worse when Baxter claimed matter-of-factly that "[Emanuel] is being investigated by Patrick Fitzgerald." Of course, Fitzgerald's team has made it perfectly clear Emanuel is not being investigated. But for Murdoch's Times, it makes for a better read if Emanuel is under the prosecutor's gun.
Sarah Baxter's news dispatch from Washington, from top to bottom, represents sham journalism, complete with invented facts and key omissions. And fair warning to Journal employees: Before Murdoch bought the Times of London it was considered to be a great newspaper.
Today? Not so much.