Media repeat Limbaugh's baseless charge that claimed Obama got "sweetheart deals" from Rezko without noting rebuttal

››› ››› LILY YAN

Politico's Ben Smith and Time's Mark Halperin uncritically reported Rush Limbaugh's baseless assertion that Sen. Barack Obama "got all kinds of sweetheart deals with [convicted Chicago businessman Antoin] Rezko" and that "[Sen. John McCain] and his wife did not get a sweetheart deal from a fraud embezzler like Tony Rezko to buy their houses." Smith and Halperin did not note that the sellers of the house Obama bought reportedly said they did not cut their asking price because Rezko bought the adjacent lot, even though they had each previously reported it.

On August 21 Politico senior writer Ben Smith and Time magazine senior political analyst Mark Halperin uncritically reported Rush Limbaugh's baseless assertion that Sen. Barack Obama "got all kinds of sweetheart deals with [convicted Chicago businessman Antoin] Rezko." On the August 21 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh said: "[H]e [Sen. John McCain] and his wife did not get a sweetheart deal from a fraud embezzler like Tony Rezko to buy their houses. But the Messiah did. The Messiah got all kinds of sweetheart deals with Rezko, and who knows who else." In fact, contrary to Limbaugh's claim that the Obamas got a "sweetheart deal" when buying their house, the sellers of the house reportedly said they did not cut their asking price because Rezko bought the adjacent lot.

As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, contrary to Limbaugh's claim that Obama got "a sweetheart deal" from Rezko on his house, according to Bloomberg News: "The couple who sold Barack Obama his Chicago home said the Illinois senator's $1.65 million bid 'was the best offer' and they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller."

Smith and Halperin have both previously noted that report. In a February 18 entry on his blog, Smith linked to the Bloomberg article, writing: "The previous owners of Obama's house say there was no Rezko discount, and generally (via his campaign) exonerate him; though Rezko did tour the place with Obama." Similarly, Halperin also linked to the Bloomberg article in a February 19 Page entry titled "Chicago Seller: Obama Bought Home Without Rezko Discount," writing that the "[c]ouple who sold Obama his Illinois home said his $1.65 million bid 'was the best offer.' "

The Obamas subsequently bought a portion of Rezko's lot, but there is no evidence that they received a "sweetheart deal" on that purchase. According to documents posted on the Obama campaign website, Obama paid Rezko $104,166 for the piece of property in question -- above its appraised value of $40,500, as Media Matters has repeatedly noted. Obama told the Chicago Tribune in a March 14 interview how the price for the parcel of land was determined: "[T]he appraisal did note that the other parcel, Rezko's remaining parcel, would be fully developable if he sold this to me. And so rather than pay the appraised price, I paid one-sixth of the cost of his property. He agreed to sell that 10-foot strip."

From Smith's August 21 blog entry:

The RNC just blasted out a memo to that effect, and Rush Limbaugh is running with it:

This business about McCain not knowing how many houses he has. Folks, it turns out that Obama already knows. Obama's got an ad: He's got seven houses. They're worth $13 million. That wouldn't even pay for one of John Kerry's houses.

And the second thing I have to point out to you is that I don't care how many houses McCain has, he and his wife did not get a sweetheart deal from a fraud embezzler like Tony Rezko to buy their houses. But the Messiah did. The Messiah got all kind of sweetheart deals with Rezko, and who knows who else.

(Not sure the "$13 million ain't so much" bit is going to resonate, but expect to hear a lot more of the latter half.)

From Halperin's August 21 entry at The Page:

-Limbaugh: Takes out the brass knuckles on Thursday's show. Listen here.

McCain "and his wife did not get a sweetheart deal from a fraud embezzler like Tony Rezko to buy their houses. But the Messiah did."

Network/Outlet
Time Magazine, The Politico
Person
Mark Halperin, Ben Smith
Show/Publication
The Page
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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