Friday, October 3, 2008

Washington Post Proclaims That "Sarah Palin Picks Ferraro as Favorite Vice President." Shocking -- Yes. Truthful -- No.

I guess I have officially accepted the role of the liberal who has a soft spot for candidates who suffer from media misrepresentation. During this election, I tend to side with Republican fears that behind the screen of objectivity, most people in the so-called "mainstream media," want Barack Obama to win. As a Democrat myself, most people would wonder why any bias in favor of my party would bother me. Well, the old saying "what goes around, comes around" warrants mentioning because in the past, the media have subjected Democrats to questionable treatment as well. I guess this is where I first developed my sensitivity to bias (being black makes me a little nervous about bias as well, but I digress).

I still cringe when I remember how the media laughed at Al Gore's "internet" statement. No -- he was not trying to stake a claim as inventor of the internet. Instead, he was referring to his role in the effort to make the internet available to the public (it had been exclusively a Department of Defense medium at the time). And how can any loyal Democrat forget the theatrical farce of "Whitewater" that plagued the Clinton administration until mud finally stuck, by way of Monica-gate. And Carter was blamed for the recession during his presidency, when really the enormous oil price shocks of the late 70s were largely to blame. Having witnessed Democrats unfairly treated in the media and elsewhere, I appreciate fairness as a general principle, which is why I am moved to write this entry.

While everyone was getting ready to watch the debate last night, the Washington Post posted this zinger on its webpage: Palin Picks Ferraro As Favorite "Vice President." What a headline! I did not hesistate to click the link, because this statement would certainly have been Palin's most damning comment to date. It could have even ended her vice presidential candidacy -- if the rest of the media picked it up and caused a feeding frenzy. So why hasn't such a storm occurred? Because there is a major wrinkle in the story: It is absolutely and unequivocally false and misleading.

Thankfully, the Washington Post blogger embedded video footage from the interview with Katie Couric (enough already?), in which Couric asks both Palin and Biden to name their favorite Vice President. Consequently, the careful reader has the opportunity to compare the Washington Post's representation of the interview with what Palin actually said.

I will start with the blog entry. Here's how the Washington Post 's blog, The Trail, summarized the interview:
When asked to name a favorite vice president, Sarah Palin initially cited failed Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

"That's an easy one for me because she's -- she's the one who first shattered part of that glass ceiling anyway in American politics," the Alaska governor said of the first woman to sit on a major party vice presidential ticket. "So it would be she as a candidate."

The blog text (along with the dramatic title) leaves only one impression: that Palin mistakenly believes Ferraro actually served as Vice President. The tape of the interveiw, however, tells a completely different story:

Couric: What previous Vice President impresses you the most and why?

Palin: Oh my goodness. It would have to be...ah....just a candidate. And that would have been Geraldine Ferraro, of course. That's an easy one for me. She is the one who first shattered part of that glass American politics. So, it would be she as a candidate.

Palin ultimately picks George Bush, Sr. as her favorite Vice President, as the blog entry reports. But the blog omits the passage where Palin says "It would have to be ah...just a candidate." This, however, is crucial language, because without out it, Palin seemingly lacks knowledge of her own place in American history -- that she (not Ferraro) would be the first woman Vice President if McCain wins.

My guess is that Palin was simply stalling while she thought about how to answer the "feel good" question (favorite Vice President -- what does that tell us about a candidate?). It is also worth mentioning that during her first speech after she became McCain's running mate, Palin mentioned the historic candidacy of Geraldine Ferraro. In the Couric interview, she merely reiterates this statement. Palin is simply playing gender politics -- not botching history.

The Washington Post is a venerable institution, and I read it daily. I even stream its RSS feeds on this blog in recognition of the important role it plays in reporting political and policy news. So how could such an honored institution make such a horrible error twice (once in the title and again in the blog essay)? Is it harmless error? Do blogs get less editorial attention? Is there really a biased elite media? What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Darren, you are right on target, once again! Didn't the misogynist media fratboys behave in much the same fashion when Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" was spun by Obama campaign to translate into a raciam commentary on the infantalie personality of Obama? And did you really believe it when the media had a heyday promoting the idea that in one of Hillary Clinton's interviews she truly and passionately advocated for the murder of presidential candidate Obama? If you watch that interview closely, you'll see that she was struggling with the chronology and that this "spin" (that got wide circulation by the Obama fans and most idolatrous "journalists") was picked up and promoted insanely! These days Darren there are no journalists--you and Glenn Greenwald and Joan Walsh excepted. The "eyes" and "ears" of the Fourth Estate are deaf and obamyopic. The barbaric Bush administration was never put in the witness box by the "objective" journalists who practically embedded themselves in the Iraq war's infamously non-existent reason d'etre and subsequent unexamined holocaust! How about having a seance with I.F. Stone on your blog one of these days, eh?
Best regards, and keep up the effort!

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