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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Samefacts Bug Wapo Disgrace

Comments over at the reality based community (Mark Kleiman mayor founder chairman and chief poobah) seem to be on the fritz again.

Kleiman notes the gross pro McCain bias of recent campaign coverage.

It's not that the press actually bought the silly Republican spin that Obama is "gaffe-prone;" but they let the RNC catch them up in the argument, distracting them from the Gramm story, which should have been devastating to McCain.

I wanted to add an extreme example.

First I discuss the front page of without clicking through to the article. The question is what impression will be left with people who don't click through. Also I am angry enough to be not at all eager to read the article (I wouldn't read it if I weren't posting about the headline)

The front page of addresses the question of whether a lobbyist is working for the Obama campaign. On the front page, there is no mention of the fact that many lobbyists are working for the McCain campaign. I think this is gross bias.

Obama's Lobbying Contradiction

High-profile staffer appears counter to campaign's rules, which forbid lobbyists from joining staff.

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum | 6:55 p.m. ET

* The Trail Florida Voter's Lawsuit Dismissed
* McCain's Rebuke May Have Angered Evangelicals
* For McCain, a Switch on Telecom Immunity?

Treaty Bans Cluster Bombs

Now, a case can be made, that it is not news that lobbyists work for McCain (although as Kleiman notes,it is impossible to make the case that the news that Gramm was a registered lobbyists for UBS when he advised McCain on the banknig crisis is not news). Also that McCain never said he wouldn't rely on lobbyists to guide his campaign.

And finally, there is a dispute about whether a Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod is a lobbyist, because he isn't. He is an astroturfer (something different and not a registered lobbyist which means he has organized mass participation campaigns for clients other than Barack Obama including issue campaigns as well as electoral campaigns. I mean the [relatively serious (phrase added after I read the article)] case is that one of the leaders of Obama's campaign is a campaigner. Since it is possible to argue that Axelrod is sortof something like a lobbyist and it is impossible to doubt that the registered lobbyists who work for McCain are lobbyists, the McCain campaign can make newspapers spend as much ink on one non lobbyist as many lobbyists.

Now I'll click the link and read the story (my comment was on the placement on

Oh. My. God. The front page of article is about "The co-director of Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Puerto Rico ... Francisco J. Pavía"

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me. The article is about the Obama campaign in a free associated state which is not represented in the general election.

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum goes on to write

Obama and Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, have been trying to outdo each other in their repudiation of lobbyists and the "special interests" they represent.

This is absolutely utterly false. The McCain campaign is totally shameless and so they are trying to argue that McCain has repudiated lobbyists. Many of them are lobbyists temporarily on leave from lobbying (one was lobbying from the back of the straight talk express). McCain is quite obviously not trying to outdo anyone in the repudiation of lobbyists (he might be trying to outdo all previous major party candidates in his reliance on lobbyists). He is, claiming to be independent of special interests because he is lying.

Now I guess "repudiate" is an ambiguous word as a repudiation is a statement (it would have been even more clearly false to write "have been trying to outdo each other in their exclusion of lobbyists from their campaigns" but a repudiation is directed at the repudiated not wink wink nudge nudge at the rubes who don't know the facts because journalists like Birnbaum have chosen to hide them.

Birnbaum quotes "Obama has criticized McCain for enlisting 'some of the biggest lobbyists in Washington' to run his presidential campaign." in pure he says she says format. He does not note in his own voice that Obama's claim is accurate, thus it is presented as an accusation which might or might not be true. Worse he notes McCain's firing of 5 lobbyists which might lead the ignorant reader to assume that the accusation is no longer valid. An interest in simple accuracy would have required Birnbaum to note that the five didn't include the campaign manager and the chief strategist so Obama's criticism remains valid.

There is another case

Moses Mercado, a lobbyist for Ogilvy Government Relations in Washington, said in an interview that he was told by the Obama campaign that he must take an unpaid leave from his firm before working as a get-out-the-vote volunteer earlier this year.

"It was pretty clear," Mercado said. "It was so clear that I made sure I wrote a letter to our office manager saying that on these days I'm taking a leave of absence."

I am dumbstruck again. This time by the utter awesomeness of the Obama movement. Working as a get out the vote volunteer is a very very humble task and not a path to massive influence. Mercado is a lobbyist and thus a member of a profession not noted for public spirit or contempt for money. He was willing to give up money to work getting out the vote. This is huge.

After all, I'm glad I read the article. It is clearly an article criticizing Obama required for ballance. The fact that I find a smear piece inspiring because it shows that the Obama movement is an even more extraordinary and powerful explosion of public spirit and solidarity than I imagined is the strongest conceivable proof that something amazing is happening in the USA.

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