UPDATE: Scherer has responded. My response to his response is here.
Under the header "Dodgy Politics: Using Old Votes to Obscure Current Policies," Time's Michael Scherer unsuccessfully debunks a claim Barack Obama didn't make in order to accuse the Democratic candidate of offering misleading criticisms of John McCain.
In the last couple days, Obama has shown an increased enthusiasm for playing this same dodgy game. ... In the first [ad], Obama says that McCain voted three times to privatize Social Security, and that he is willing to risk the nation's retirement program on the risky stock market. Now, it is true that McCain did support President Bush's effort to privatize a portion of Social Security. But it is not true that McCain is running for president on a platform of turning Social Security over to Wall Street.
I'm sure the McCain campaign appreciates Scherer's statement that "it is not true that McCain is running for president on a platform of turning Social Security over to Wall Street." But that statement is completely irrelevant to the ad Scherer purports to debunk. See, the ad doesn't say McCain is running on such a platform. It says McCain has voted in favor of privatization in the past, and supported Bush's privatization plan. Which Scherer acknowledges is true. But it doesn't accuse McCain of "running on" turning Social Security over to Wall Street; Scherer made that up in order to debunk it.
Scherer then quoted from McCain's web page:
Here is what his campaign says: "John McCain supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts -- but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept. John McCain will reach across the aisle to address these challenges, but if the Democrats do not act, he will."
But that doesn't really tell us anything. It certainly doesn't debunk anything in the Obama ad, since it is so vague as to be basically meaningless. It simply says he will "act" (how?) to address "benefit promises that cannot be kept" (how?) But to the extent that it does say something, it reiterates McCain's support for "personal accounts." That's the phrase Republicans turned to when their pollsters told them that "privatization" is wildly unpopular.
Indeed, multiple times this year, McCain has reiterated his support for "personal savings accounts" in which workers could "put part of their salary, part of their taxes into Social Security, into an account with their name on it."
That's Social Security privatization - or it was before the Republicans began browbeating reporters into calling it something else. So, John McCain has, multiple times during his presidential campaign, advocated allowing workers to divert part of their Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts. And yet Time's Michael Scherer insists that "it is not true that McCain is running for president on a platform of turning Social Security over to Wall Street" - a rebuttal to a claim that isn't present in the Obama ad Scherer pretends to debunk.
The result of all this is not only that Scherer has baselessly accused Obama of dishonesty. The bigger problem may be that Scherer made McCain's position on Social Security privatization less clear. Rather than explaining what McCain has done about the topic in the past, and quoting McCain's campaign statements, Scherer simply quoted a vague position paper statement and falsely asserted that McCain hasn't talked about private accounts during the campaign. In his rush to play "gotcha" on an ad, Scherer left his readers with little understanding of what McCain actually has said and done about Social Security privatization.
FAIR takes on "The Myth of Pro-Obama Media Bias" and offers some facts to counter the assertion that the media demonstrated a liberal bias in covering Obama more than McCain earlier this year:
The amount of coverage for both candidates is unprecedented, but the advantage held by Obama in overall coverage is nothing unusual, as shown by figures compiled by the Tyndall Report (7/25/08). Measuring the first six months of each election year, Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis got only 32 percent of the coverage garnered by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988; incumbent Bill Clinton got only 28 percent of the coverage Republican challenger Bob Dole got in 1996. Incumbent George W. Bush got 85 percent as much coverage as Democratic Sen. John Kerry in 2004—the closest thing to parity in early campaign coverage since Tyndall has been keeping track.
The good news is your new show is a ratings smash; the highest rated-program on MSNBC right now.
The bad news is Phil Donahue had the top-rated program on MSNBC when they fired him right before the Iraq war.
For some reason, the television industry uses different standards to judge the success and failure of liberal hosts.
This is rather unsightly, and not to mention media incestuous. It comes courtesy of Michael Crowley at The New Republic and it only highlights the media's need to end their utter fascination with picking apart Clinton phrases, or here, Clinton-related phrases. There's an historic campaign unfolding, why don't reporters and pundits just cover that?
The topic was Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Crowley noted that the New York Times' Clinton-ologist Patrick Healy had posted this online during a rather goofy IM exchange published in NY mag:
You know what I keep hearing privately from advisers to Hillary? They say, "Why is it our job to blunt Palin's impact? Hillary is not on the ticket. Obama didn't choose her." I don't think it's so much about resentment, it's an honest assessment that Hillary can only do so much in this regard. (And she doesn't want to be blamed if this vote doesn't go Obama's way.)
Note the comments were not sourced and were made privately. Nonetheless, Crowley didn't like the gist and announced, "This really doesn't strike me as a line that Hillary's people should be promoting."
Question: How are Hillary's people "promoting" it if they're discussing it privately? I'm pretty sure her aides are press savvy enough that if their intention was to actually promote that meme, they could do that in the press. To date, they specifically have not. (i.e. If Healy had real sources and real quotes from Clinton aides pushing that theme, he would have published it in the NYTimes.)
Yet Crowley claims they are "promoting" it, based on a second-hand, unsourced IM exchange.
Remember when being a White House correspondent was the ultimate assignment for D.C. reporters, and then it became not so great because reporters ended up trapped inside a controlled bubble with little or no access? Well, time to add campaign trail reporters to that used-to-be-great mix. Now the assignment's like a career trip to purgatory.
Mike Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown at Politico detail how following prez candidates from town to town is pretty much a worthless occupation for journalists these days.
Slate's Jack Shafer says not really. Notes that O'Reilly's claim to Time that in 12 years he's only told six guests to shut up isn't quite accurate.
Can the $9 million raised tonight by Obama at that Beverly Hills Barbra Streisand celebrity fundraiser possibly win him as many votes as the bad publicity from the fundraiser is losing him? I don't think so.
How many people does Mickey Kaus think would have otherwise voted for Barack Obama, but will either stay home or vote for John McCain because Barbra Streisand sang at a fundraiser for Obama?
We're a nation at war, with a collapsing economy and a President who views the Constitution as little more than a set of recommendations -- and Mickey Kaus thinks voters are going to vote against a candidate because Barbra Streisand had a fundraiser for him? Why would Slate publish someone who has such obvious contempt for his readers?
Malkin's P.O.'d that Gawker published some of the hacked contents from Palin's email account. Gawker notes that Malkin's pretty much an expert on publishing personal info about her foes.