Abrams: NY Times article on Obama's youth is "the ultimate in media arrogance"

››› ››› BRIAN FREDERICK

On his MSNBC program, Dan Abrams labeled as a "non-story" a New York Times article that suggested that Obama may have exaggerated his account of his past drug use "to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic." Abrams stated: "Any article about his drug use is bad news for Obama. But for the Times to claim deceitful motives just because they couldn't find anyone to corroborate his [Obama's] youthful indiscretion is the ultimate in media arrogance. And sadly, I predict this story will be just the first in a series of non-stories about his drug use."

On the February 11 broadcast of his MSNBC program, host Dan Abrams labeled as a "non-story" a February 11 New York Times article that reported Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's [IL] "account of his younger self and drugs ... significantly differs from the recollections of others who do not recall his drug use." The article went on to suggest that Obama may have exaggerated his account of his past drug use "to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic." Abrams asked, "So, the Times found out not much, but still managed to suggest that Obama may have purposefully overstated his drug use to offer a better contrast to his later successes?" Abrams continued: "Any article about his drug use is bad news for Obama. But for the Times to claim deceitful motives just because they couldn't find anyone to corroborate his [Obama's] youthful indiscretion is the ultimate in media arrogance. And sadly, I predict this story will be just the first in a series of non-stories about his drug use." Abrams also referred to the article as "an outrage" and "horrible journalism."

From the February 11 edition of MSNBC's Live with Dan Abrams:

ABRAMS: I figured it was only a matter of time before the media became obsessed with Barack Obama's admitted drug use. This weekend, The New York Times stirred the pot with a front-page non-story about the issue. The Times spent a lot of resources investigating, talking to more than three dozen friends, and this is their grand conclusion: "Mr. Obama's account of his younger self and drugs significantly differs from the recollections of others who did not recall his drug use. That could suggest he was so private about his usage that few people were aware of it, that the memories of those who knew him decades ago are fuzzy or rosier out of a desire to protect him, or that he added some writerly touches in his memoir to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic."

So, the Times found out not much, but still managed to suggest that Obama may have purposefully overstated his drug use to offer a better contrast to his later successes? In his 442-page book, Obama devoted about a page and a half to using drugs as a student. He wrote, quote, "Pot had helped and booze and maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man."

Any article about his drug use is bad news for Obama. But for the Times to claim deceitful motives just because they couldn't find anyone to corroborate his youthful indiscretion is the ultimate in media arrogance. And sadly, I predict this story will be just the first in a series of non-stories about his drug use.

Joining me now, MSNBC.com media analyst Steve Adubato, and back with us is Michelle Cottle, a senior editor from The New Republic. Steve, this article's an outrage.

ADUBATO: No, I don't think it is, Dan.

ABRAMS: Really?

ADUBATO: No, not all.

ABRAMS: You think it's fair to suggest that maybe Barack Obama exaggerated his drug use because The New York Times couldn't find anyone to corroborate it.

ADUBATO: The New York Times and everyone else in the media is trying to find a way to be as unfair to Barack Obama as they are to every other candidate. What do I mean by that? George Bush's military record. Oh, Al Gore's son, whether he had a drug problem or not, or alcohol, when he got in an accident, what is --

ABRAMS: But just to tell me that it's not as bad as other people, tell me how you can possibly justify The New York Times putting this sort of non-story on the front page of the paper.

ADUBATO: Because it's about his background. Because he said it publicly in a book. Because they're questioning the authenticity -- an interesting word here -- as to whether he's accurate or not and potentially --

ABRAMS: But based on what?

ADUBATO: By talking to other people.

ABRAMS: But --

ADUBATO: They do it with every presidential candidate, Dan.

ABRAMS: But they're saying -- he's saying he did it. I mean, usually, it's the other --

ADUBATO: They didn't say they did it. They said they asked the question as to whether he did it.

ABRAMS: Right. And because The New York --

COTTLE: I'm sorry. Guys, I've got to jump in here. Do you understand how "through the looking glass" this is? We are sitting here arguing about whether Barack Obama exaggerated being a druggie for political gain? That's just twisted.

ABRAMS: I agree with you, Michelle. I completely agree with you, and I think this is -- I mean, apart from the absurdity of it, it's also just horrible journalism because they went out and because in their arrogance, they couldn't find anyone to corroborate it, well, you know what that must mean? It must mean that they should suggest that maybe Barack Obama lied.

Person
Dan Abrams
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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