Wash. Post uncritically quoted NC voter's assertion that Obama "will refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance" if elected president

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

The Washington Post uncritically quoted a voter's assertion -- apparently referring to a chain email containing a photograph of Sen. Barack Obama standing, but without his hand over his heart -- that "[f]rom what I can tell, if he becomes president he will refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance." However, Post "fact checker" Michael Dobbs previously noted that "[c]ontrary to the e-mails attacking Obama for disrespecting the flag, the candidates were not reciting the pledge of allegiance. They were standing for the national anthem." Indeed, other photos show Obama with his hand over his heart during the national anthem.

In an April 28 article on record-breaking Democratic voter registration figures, The Washington Post uncritically quoted one voter's assertion that "[f]rom what I can tell, if he [Sen. Barack Obama] becomes president he will refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance." The voter, North Carolina resident Al Landsberg -- who, according to the Post, receives "frequent political e-mails, most of them critical of Obama" -- was apparently referring to a chain email containing a photograph of Obama that appeared in Time magazine. In that photo, Obama was standing but did not have his hand placed over his heart. Moreover, a caption below the photograph indicated that it was taken during the national anthem -- not the Pledge of Allegiance.

Washington Post "fact checker" Michael Dobbs noted in a November 2, 2007, item about the email: "Contrary to the e-mails attacking Obama for disrespecting the flag, the candidates were not reciting the pledge of allegiance. They were standing for the national anthem." Dobbs also wrote: "Asked whether Obama normally puts his hand over his heart while listening to the national anthem, Obama spokesman Bill Burton replied by e-mail: 'Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. In no way was he making any sort of statement, and any suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous.' " Indeed, other photos show Obama with his hand over his heart during the national anthem.

From the April 28 article "Democrats Registering in Record Numbers," by Post staff writer Eli Saslow:

Al Landsberg, 66, approached the counter of the voter registration office at 4 p.m., an hour before deadline. Hefty, with a hint of sweat on his white mustache, he looked as drained as the employees behind the counter who rested their heads in their hands. Voting exhausted him. Ever since he cast a ballot for Ronald Reagan, Landsberg has always felt as though he was trying to choose the lesser of two evils.

For this election, though, he decided he had no choice but to vote. A lifelong Republican, he planned to switch his party affiliation so he could vote in the Democratic primary. That Hillary Clinton wasn't great, he said, but she was just as good as presumptive GOP nominee John McCain and a heck of a lot better than that other guy, "you know, uh, Embowa. He'd take this country right down the tubes."

Landsberg's wife, Evelyn, collects porcelain dolls, and her co-collectors send the Landsbergs frequent political e-mails, most of them critical of Obama. "From what I can tell, if he becomes president he will refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and we will leave Iraq unprepared," Landsberg said. "I'm not going to sit at home and let that happen."

He needed something to do, anyway. He recently retired after five-plus years in the Marine Corps and 40 years in the printing business, and Evelyn still works at an electrical supplier. Their three children moved out long ago. The Landsbergs save what extra money they have for three or four annual trips to Las Vegas, where they can find a cheap hotel room, play the dollar slots and smoke -- indoors and in peace.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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