Kurtz: Don’t trust Washington Post reporting

posted at 10:20 am on September 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Howard Kurtz issues a rather amazing analysis of John McCain’s ad connecting Franklin Raines to Barack Obama.  The Washington Post media analyst calls the basis of the McCain ad a “disputed premise” — despite his own newspaper’s reporting on the Raines-Obama relationship:

Analysis: This John McCain ad is based on a disputed premise.

There’s no dispute that Obama has no background in economics — but then, neither does McCain, which makes this an odd charge for the Arizona senator to hurl.

Fannie Mae did collapse, requiring a government takeover, and Raines, its former chairman, paid $25 million in April to settle a case brought by federal authorities investigating his role in the agency’s accounting problems. But he has never been a close adviser to Obama.

I’m going to start this post by noting that I avidly read Kurtz’ media blog, and consider it one of the best continuing analyses of both traditional and new media.  I believe that Howard usually tries to approach this task without bias, and mostly succeeds, although he has certainly laid more that a few eggs (and who among us has not?).  So when I tell you that Howard is talking out of his hat, I say it with respect and affection.

Why do I say that?  His own newspaper has twice reported the relationship between Raines and Obama, and on one of those occasions, Raines was their source:

  • 7/16/08: “In the four years since he stepped down as Fannie Mae’s chief executive under the shadow of a $6.3 billion accounting scandal, Franklin D. Raines has been quietly constructing a new life for himself. He has shaved eight points off his golf handicap, taken a corner office in Steve Case’s D.C. conglomeration of finance, entertainment and health-care companies and more recently, taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.”
  • 8/28/08: “In the current crisis, their biggest backers have been Democrats such as Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (Mass.). Two members of Mr. Obama’s political circle, James A. Johnson and Franklin D. Raines, are former chief executives of Fannie Mae.

Howard never mentions these articles.  What are we to make of this omission, and of Howard’s declaration of the relationship as a “disputed premise”?  It seems that the lesson is that readers shouldn’t trust the reporting at the Washington Post.  After all, these articles contain no corrections and have not been retracted, and more to the point, never raised an objection from Barack Obama until now.

Howard needs to rethink his analysis, or the Post needs to start issuing retractions.

Addendum: Even TNR scoffs at the “dishonorable lie” response from Obama.  At worst, McCain relied on undisputed reporting in the Post.  I guess Obama is also saying that the Post can’t be trusted.


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I guess Obama is also saying that the Post can’t be trusted.

So is it safe to assume that B.O. is now throwing the Washington Post under the bus?

What the heck, everyone else associated with this guy is winding up there sooner or later.

pilamaye on September 19, 2008 at 10:24 AM

A guy who quotes TNR and a HuffPo blogger to smear McCain as ‘dishonorable’ is in no position to cry when other media outlets are used against him.

STFU Obama.

BadgerHawk on September 19, 2008 at 10:24 AM

I have no doubt that the connection is valid. Something about ducks, waddling, and quacking.

csdeven on September 19, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Wow, they are really turning themselves into pretzels now. Embarrassing.

rockmom on September 19, 2008 at 10:25 AM

So if we can’t trust the Post, and Kurtz writes for the Post, can we trust him and what he writes here?

PappaMac on September 19, 2008 at 10:26 AM

On another forum I regularly engage in debate with a snarky inside-the-Beltway Leftist, who’s absolutely convinced that the WaPo is a right wing rag, solely because of their “support” for the invasion of Iraq. I’m sure he’ll react the same way to this latest example of their O’bama duplicity.

Del Dolemonte on September 19, 2008 at 10:27 AM

Addendum: Even TNR scoffs at the “dishonorable lie” response from Obama. At worst, McCain relied on undisputed reporting in the Post. I guess Obama is also saying that the Post can’t be trusted.

The strategy here is very simple. They’ve been pounding the “McCain is a liar” theme hard, hard, hard. For almost 2 solid weeks.

This is the payoff.

Now they can claim he’s lying, even when he’s not, and the meme will stick.

benjamin on September 19, 2008 at 10:30 AM

I’m comfortable with NOT trusting the reporting of the Washington Post.

Can we go back and check a few stories that were anti-McCain? It should take long.

originalpechanga on September 19, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Kurtz is throwing his own paper under the bus? What?

lodge on September 19, 2008 at 10:32 AM

I just read over at Ace that AIG gave ten million dollars to Charlie Rangel Center. That’s a lot of money to donate when your broke.

Cindy Munford on September 19, 2008 at 10:32 AM

media/Obama = gasping at straws.

only problem, how do we get these facts out to Joe Blow voter through the Media Firewall?

jp on September 19, 2008 at 10:32 AM

Drudge needs to get on this

jp on September 19, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Obama sure has a damn big bus…

digitalintrigue on September 19, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Kurtz, where were you during the “macaca hearings?”

fossten on September 19, 2008 at 10:35 AM

Obviously the WaPo needs to be punished for practicing journalism unfavorable to The One.

Right_of_Attila on September 19, 2008 at 10:38 AM

How in the tank for Obama are you if you will throw your employer under the bus. I wonder if the right is allowed to use that line?

Cindy Munford on September 19, 2008 at 10:41 AM

Time Magazine’s Karen Tumulty is worried she’s sullied her credentials. She bloviated that the Raines ad was racist noting that Jim Johnson wasn’t mentioned. Now, Team McCain already had the Jim Johnson ad cut and ready, but it didn’t come out until today.

Tumulty is now back peddling trying to find her way out of the box she built around herself.

These charges of racism are scurrilous.

gabriel sutherland on September 19, 2008 at 10:45 AM

The Obambla campaign is starting to resemble the last hours of the Bismarck: getting itself shot to pieces, fires and explosions rocking its hull, and a damaged rudder forcing it to steam in circles. As a last similarity, as the Bismarck took water through it’s blasted hull, it listed to port (left).

Bishop on September 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM

It seems that the lesson is that readers shouldn’t trust the reporting at the Washington Post.

My chagrine knows no bounds.

tgharris on September 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM

With Obama throwing everyone under the bus, I’m beginning to feel sorry for the bus.

Sapwolf on September 19, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Karen, there is still a place left under the magic bus.

Sapwolf on September 19, 2008 at 10:49 AM

Addendum: Even TNR scoffs at the “dishonorable lie” response from Obama. At worst, McCain relied on undisputed reporting in the Post. I guess Obama is also saying that the Post can’t be trusted.

Wow. When TNR tells you that you are full of sh!t, you’d better watch out. The house of cards is slowly crumbling.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on September 19, 2008 at 10:51 AM

McCain needs to make an effective case that he is NOT GWB. Bush is viewed as a liar by a majority of the country and Oslime-a has effectively tapped into that. When faced with accusations of both candidates lying, Oslime-a is given the benefit of the doubt because McCain is a rep. McCain is doing a fine job of exposing Oslime-a’s lies and he needs to keep it up, but he has to really work on his credibility as a straight talker. Hopefully, his mention of his call for regulations on fannie and freddie are just the tip of the iceberg in achieving that goal.

csdeven on September 19, 2008 at 10:56 AM

Analysis: This John McCain ad is based on a disputed premise.

There’s no dispute that Obama has no background in economics — but then, neither does McCain, which makes this an odd charge for the Arizona senator to hurl.

Fannie Mae did collapse, requiring a government takeover, and Raines, its former chairman, paid $25 million in April to settle a case brought by federal authorities investigating his role in the agency’s accounting problems. But he has never been a close adviser to Obama.

Memo to H. Kurtz: The point that a person without a background in economics is taking advise from a person who is responsible in part for the current financial crisis. How does this align with the Obama Campaigns canard of “Change”?

Wildcatter1980 on September 19, 2008 at 11:12 AM

Edit: “The point is that a person…”

Wildcatter1980 on September 19, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Obama sucks…..

MarkABinVA on September 19, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Howard usually tries to approach this task without bias

kurtz is now, and has always been, a blatant partisan. He’s a leftist, clear and simple, and a tool of the democrat party.

peacenprosperity on September 19, 2008 at 11:17 AM

What are we to make of this omission

That kurtz is doing what he has always done, working for the furtherance of the democrats agenda. Stay away from the kool-aid bowl, Ed. You can no longer recognize the enemy.

peacenprosperity on September 19, 2008 at 11:19 AM

If those stories were wrong why didn’t Obama condemn them when they came out? Why did he not dispute their accuracy? Second why hasn’t The Washington Post written a retraction?

Jdripper on September 19, 2008 at 11:19 AM

…….it listed to port (left).

Bishop on September 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Forget the Bismark! Forget the Bus! Put all them lieing ass dogs on the Titanic and throw them a rope with an anchor tied to it.

Rovin on September 19, 2008 at 11:20 AM

It seems that the lesson is that readers shouldn’t trust the reporting at the Washington Post. After all, these articles contain no corrections and have not been retracted, and more to the point, never raised an objection from Barack Obama until now.

Yep. And Barack loves to use WaPo when it suits his purposes, like in this ad which uses no less than 3 quotes from their pages, one of which calls McCain’s campaign “truly vile”.

Buy Danish on September 19, 2008 at 11:29 AM

Through fnma and freddie mac the federal government now controls over half the mortgages in America. With the takeover of AIG, and don’t fool yourselves with the loan talk, that’s what the government has done, they control the largest insurer in the nation. They are going door to door down here in Florida giving people applications to apply for money from fema to fix damage to their houses from tropical storm fay. mccain and barry are talking up bailing out (taking over) the auto industry. I never would have believed that this country would go communist in my lifetime but here we are. We have a presidential race coming up and our choices are a european style communist and a hardcore marxist.

peacenprosperity on September 19, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Kurtz is trying to define “close adviser” as different than “has consulted with Obama on occasion”. I think Kurtz sees “taken calls from” and “members of Mr. Obama’s political circle” as more “far-away adviser” rather than “close adviser”. Nuance, for sure. And completely disingenuous.

jwehman on September 19, 2008 at 11:33 AM

So when I tell you that Howard is talking out of his hat, I say it with respect and affection.

Howie is and always has been a left-wing hack. And I say it without respect, much less affection.

flenser on September 19, 2008 at 11:38 AM

The McCain ads against Raines and Johnson are probably MORE effective BECAUSE they quote the Washington Post, which most people consider to be a left-of-center paper, and liberals tend to trust.

When MSM writers such as Howard Kurtz start questioning their own paper for political purposes, their credibility takes a hit.

Great ads, Mac!

Steve Z on September 19, 2008 at 11:40 AM

Oh, how Howie does not want it to be so. The connection to this financial collapse and bailout may be the knock out punch for BO.

d1carter on September 19, 2008 at 11:43 AM

peacenprosperity on September 19, 2008 at 11:32 AM

And in addition, now with control over so many revenue streams the government doesn’t have to increase taxes evertime they want more money from us. They will be able to increase insurance premiums, arbitrarily change the terms of your mortgage, increase PMI, etc.

peacenprosperity on September 19, 2008 at 11:44 AM

peacenprosperity on September 19, 2008 at 11:32 AM
And in addition, now with control over so many revenue streams the government doesn’t have to increase taxes evertime they want more money from us. They will be able to increase insurance premiums, arbitrarily change the terms of your mortgage, increase PMI, etc.

peacenprosperity on September 19, 2008 at 11:44 AM

So true! The FED and the Treasury (and Bush) are allowing far too much nationalizing—socialism of our capital free market system at the taxpayers expense. Guess who PAYS for all this in the end?

Rovin on September 19, 2008 at 12:08 PM

St. Barry is using the ancient tactic of “deny, deny, deny; make counter accusations”.

It’s possible that the WaPo overstated Raines’ role in the campaign; perhaps Raines himself bragged about being an advisor at a cocktail party or something when he wasn’t.

Or possibly both Obama and Raines are lying about their relationship now- a very real possibility.

Either way, given that McCain had a solid source, it’s dishonest of Obama to call it a lie.

Hollowpoint on September 19, 2008 at 12:08 PM

This is why we need the updates (and in this case addendums), to be timestamped.

Addendum: Even TNR scoffs at the “dishonorable lie” response from Obama. At worst, McCain relied on undisputed reporting in the Post.

After the jump we get a link to here:
Misadventures In Giving the Benefit of the Doubt
Posted: Friday, September 19, 2008 11:12 AM

geckomon on September 19, 2008 at 12:54 PM

If being on economic committees in the Senate doesn’t qualify as “economic experience” how does Joe Biden have any foreign policy experience?

thedudesblog on September 19, 2008 at 1:01 PM

Seems others see the biased atmosphere at the Wipe-O the same as I.

madmonkphotog on September 19, 2008 at 1:05 PM

nice research, ed.

keep ‘em honest for us.

jimmer on September 19, 2008 at 1:51 PM

So now they’re saying it was a Style section reporter who actually talked to Raines and got the quote. So what?

I’d trust the accuracy of an off-the-cuff contemporaneous remark by a disinterested reporter a lot more than some hedging, defensive statement months later in response to some investigative reporter.

capitano on September 19, 2008 at 3:16 PM

Addendum Update!

Zengerle has retracted all Benefit of the Doubt. He cites the AP:

Obama’s campaign says Raines is not an Obama adviser and that McCain’s campaign knows it because Raines said so in an e-mail earlier this week to Carly Fiorina, a top McCain adviser. Obama’s campaign provided The Associated Press with a copy of the e-mail.

The ad was released on Thursday.  Fiorina was excommunicated by Camp McCain following her faux pas on Wednesday.  What day did Raines send his email?  The AP doesn’t say!  They coyly offer up “earlier this week.”  On the basis of an email of uncertain date to which even the Obama spokesman attests Ms. Fiorina did not reply, Zengerle assumes that not only did Fiorina read it in timely fashion but instantly apprised the appropriate official in the McCain campaign amidst consternation which she herself had induced (also “earlier in the week”) — all of which Zengerle takes as proof positive that the McCain campaign knew they were peddling an outright lie before their ad was aired.
Did it even occur to Zengerle to ascertain the date of the Fiorina comment to which Raines putatively objected — once he was subsequently made aware of it in a “forwarded note” from an unspecified party on an unspecified day and time? He seems perfectly comfortable imputing a lie to McCain on that highly questionable basis, while assuming nary a hint of possible misdirection on anyone else’s part.
Considering just how many “advisors” Obama has thrown under his bus with risible disclaimers, who wouldn’t have discounted Raines’ email – whenever Fiorina might have gotten around to reading it.  Jim Johnson, ias I’m sure we all recall, wasn’t an advisor either; he was simply invited to vet Obama’s Vice Presidential options on an unofficial non-profit basis.

JM Hanes on September 19, 2008 at 11:07 PM

And here’s something from a blog on obama’s website:

Franklin Delano Raines (born January 14, 1949 in Seattle, Washington) is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae who served as White House budget director under President Bill Clinton. He is currently employed by Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign as an economic adviser.

http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/keithbryan/gGgmX7

my guess it wont be up for too long

galtg on September 20, 2008 at 4:36 PM