Of “canards” and canaries
posted at 6:41 pm on July 18, 2012 by Jazz Shaw
As some of our usual weekend readers may recall, I posted an article on Saturday which brought up some rather
typical offensive comments the President made on Friday about business owners. It seemed like pretty typical fare from Barack Obama, albeit a bit more honest than usual in the sense of being a Kinsley gaffe. Also, it was a really slow news day, and I was briefly happy that the President had given me something else to write about. But beyond that I didn’t think much of it.
That’s why I was rather surprised when a writer for Talking Points Memo contacted me requesting a phone interview about the piece. (For those not familiar, TPM is also known as one of the more prominent members of the Unofficial Committee to Reelect Barack Obama.) Now, I’ve been interviewed by a few horses from this stable in the past, particularly during our 2010 congressional race, and it never ends well. But what can I say? It’s the dog days of July, the news cycle is often very slow and I was bored. I decided to do the interview, going into it with open eyes and the knowledge that it was going to be twisted in the worst possible light.
The article went live today and it certainly didn’t disappoint, at least in terms of my expectations. The title alone tells the whole story:
Let’s start with the definition of Canard.
1 a : a false or unfounded report or story; especially : a fabricated report
b : a groundless rumor or belief
Here’s another definition which the author, David Taintor, might want to look up. Hack.
5. a drudge
6. (Communication Arts / Journalism & Publishing) a person who produces mediocre literary or journalistic work
If you read through that entire piece of tripe, a rather desperate, Obama supporting meme is very quickly established. Obama must have been simply “taken out of context” with those remarks. Come on, guys! You know what he meant to say, right? Mr. Taintor even got his canards (another word for “duck,” by the way) in a row early with this offering.
Referring to large-scale infrastructure investments like bridges and highways and the Internet, Obama recycled a line he has used often on the stump but with a slight variation: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
David then goes on to perform some sort of “investigative journalism” to describe how my simple Saturday blog post somehow sparked an explosion of “false” hype which wound up “in Mitt Romney’s mouth.”
Here’s the part of the story – and the wide ranging, roughly 1/2 hour interview – that you didn’t hear if you only read this TPM piece.
David did the usual routine of acting like some sort of above the fray, independent, “just the facts M’am” journalist, posing all sorts of questions and engaging in a discussion. But the majority of that interview had very little to do with the quote he references, as if it were the entire article. I brought up the more serious, and far more offensive comment which I highlighted in my original article. Let’s replay it.
I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
That was the part that I found “offensive” more than anything else, and I told David so repeatedly. (That portion of Obama’s comments never appears in the TPM article nor my direct comments on it.) At one point I asked him about this – and I’m paraphrasing from memory because I’m not paranoid enough to tape all of my own calls at home. I asked him if even he wouldn’t find those comments offensive. He responded deftly, saying that he was covering the story and didn’t want to make it about him. I agreed, so I rephrased the question, asking him if he couldn’t see how even some people who might be naturally inclined to support Obama and favor government taxation and spending as the best path to curing our nation’s ills might find that offensive. He agreed, most congenially, that he could indeed see how such people might. I can’t even count the number of times I quoted that specific piece of Obama’s remarks to David during our discussion. It was the major point of the piece.
Of course, none of that appeared in the article.
David tried to treat this as some story of a bored blogger seizing on an out of context comment which wound up in a Romney speech. But the fact is, the actual words of the president which I was focusing on were the meat of the issue, and it’s looking more and more like they will come back to haunt him. David Taintor wants to talk about canards. I’d prefer to talk about canaries… in coal mines. If the unofficial Obama reelection committee is working this hard to hide it, you can tell that this is an early indicator of how much trouble they are in. Obama spoke about what he truly believes on Friday, laughingly chiding small business owners for thinking they are “so smart” or that they “work so hard.”
Real working people know that anyone building a business in today’s competitive environment truly must be smart, hard working and brave to even attempt launching a successful, private commercial endeavor. This attitude by the president offers a stark choice to American voters. And TPM’s efforts to cover it up or wash it away under the illusion of an “out of context comment” will not win the day.