On MSNBC Live, anchor Kevin Corke falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama "said he doesn't have the, quote, 'experience to run a bureaucracy.' " Corke was apparently referring to a Reno Gazette-Journal article that reported, "Obama freely admits he doesn't have the experience to run a bureaucracy"; however, the newspaper did not quote Obama saying he lacks the "experience to run a bureaucracy."
On the January 15 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Kevin Corke falsely claimed that "[Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL] said he doesn't have the, quote, 'experience to run a bureaucracy.' " In fact, while the January 14 Reno Gazette-Journal article that Corke appeared to be referencing asserted that Obama "freely admits he doesn't have the experience to run a bureaucracy," contrary to Corke's claim, the paper does not actually quote Obama admitting he lacks the "experience to run a bureaucracy." Rather, according to the Gazette-Journal, Obama said: "Some in this debate around experience seem to think the job of the president is to go in and run some bureaucracy. Well, that's not my job. My job is to set a vision of 'here's where the bureaucracy needs to go.' "
After misrepresenting Obama's remarks, Corke then asked washingtonpost.com staff writer Chris Cillizza: "I'm just wondering, is there any risk in saying something like that? I mean, let's face it. Isn't our government a bureaucracy to begin with?" Cillizza responded, in part, that "any time [Obama is] on the record in an early-state newspaper saying, "Well, I don't have the experience to be a CEO,' it probably doesn't help his campaign." In his response, Cillizza not only misquoted Obama like Corke did, but Cillizza also falsely asserted that Obama said he would not be a suitable CEO. In fact, while the Gazette-Journal article reported that Obama is "banking on the fact voters aren't looking for a 'chief operating officer' in this election," and quoted Obama as saying he's "not an operating officer," the article did not indicate that Obama discussed his ability to serve as a CEO.
A January 15 blog post by Politico senior political writer Ben Smith also highlighted the Gazette-Journal article, but did not note that the article failed to support it's assertion that Obama "freely admits he doesn't have the experience to run a bureaucracy."
The MSNBC roundtable also included Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston.
From the 2 p.m. ET hour of the January 15 edition of MSNBC Live:
CORKE: Chris, you know, while talking to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Barack Obama said he doesn't have the, quote, "experience to run a bureaucracy and that Americans aren't looking for a chief operating officer." I'm just wondering, is there any risk in saying something like that? I mean, let's face it. Isn't our government a bureaucracy to begin with?
CILLIZZA: Well, you know, Kevin, the risk I think is that Barack Obama has to be careful of not playing into the stereotype about him, which is that he's a great speaker; he's very charismatic; he's a good leader; but he doesn't have the experience. So any time he's on the record in an early-state newspaper saying, "Well, I don't have the experience to be a CEO," it probably doesn't help his campaign. I mean, I think what he wants to focus on is "Do I have Washington experience? No, I don't, but we don't need Washington experience. We need someone who is ready to change things, who can bring about change to Washington." I'm sure that's what he meant in a broader context. But remember, when candidates speak in those kind of parsed words, unfortunately it gets taken out of context or it's used in different ways, and that will likely come back to haunt Obama in some way, shape, or form, especially if he winds up being the nominee.
CORKE: That's right -- especially also if the economy continues to slide or falter at all. People will get nervous about something like that. Jon, let me ask you about [Democratic presidential candidate] John Edwards, the sometimes forgotten candidate.
From the January 14 Reno Gazette-Journal article:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama freely admits he doesn't have the experience to run a bureaucracy.
But he's banking on the fact voters aren't looking for a "chief operating officer" in this election.
"I have a pretty good sense of my strengths and my weaknesses," he said today during a meeting with the Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board.
"I am very good at teasing out from people who are smarter than me what the issues are and how we resolve them," he said. "I don't think there is anybody in this race who can inspire the American people better than I can. And I don't think there is anybody in this race who can bridge differences ... better than I can.
"But I'm not an operating officer. Some in this debate around experience seem to think the job of the president is to go in and run some bureaucracy. Well, that's not my job. My job is to set a vision of 'here's where the bureaucracy needs to go.' "
The final days of the Nevada caucus largely have come down to who has the experience, who can bring about change or whether one candidate can do both.
Obama spent the day traveling Northern Nevada to rebut rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's argument that he doesn't have the substance to back up pie-in-the-sky rhetoric.
"You got to ask yourself, 'who is best equipped to bring about this change you are hoping for?' " he told a rally of more than 1,100 people at the Reno Events Center. "Hope is not being ignorant of the roadblocks that stand in your way.
"I know how hard it is going to be to provide health care to every American ... to fix our schools or reduce poverty. I know because I fought these fights."
Obama did not use his stump speech to attack Clinton.
But in a 40-minute round-table discussion before the Reno rally he blamed the nation's housing slump and accompanying foreclosure crisis, which has hit Nevada harder than any other state, on Washington, D.C., leaders who listened more to lobbyists than their constituents.
"Ten of the country's largest mortgage lenders spent $185 million lobbying Washington so they could keep engaging in these destructive practices," he said. "And they got what they paid for."
His chin resting on one hand, Obama listened to the stories of struggle from the four Reno residents at the table with him, interspersing the discussion with points from his economic plan.
He wants to provide tax credits to stimulate the economy, revise bankruptcy laws to protect people from losing their homes and create a foreclosure fund to aid those who can no longer afford their mortgages.
At one point, Obama wrapped his arm around the shoulder of Skye Steffens as she told of a traffic accident that seriously injured her husband soon after he was treated for cancer.
"You've had your share," he said. "I don't think anything else is allowed to go wrong for the next four or five decades."