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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Los Angeles Times lies through its teeth to maintain claim that McCain had "no recorded basis" for saying Obama's political career was "launched" at Ayers' house

My friend Patterico pushed the Los Angeles Times to the point that it either had to leave a bold-face lie uncorrected (for the benefit of Barack Obama) or make an embarrassing admission that it had already mangled the truth. The LAT chose to stick with the lie, as I wrote last Wednesday in a guest-post at HughHewitt.com.

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[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

The editors of the Los Angeles Times are lying through their teeth to elect Barack Obama. The lie is brazen and unashamed. They are counting on the fact that those who know of their lie will be less well able to publicize it than the LAT itself was able to spread the lie to begin with, so that telling the lie will remain a net plus for the Obama campaign. Posting here is all I can do to upset that calculation, but you too can help by passing along this report.

[# More #] The Obama campaign has systematically minimized the nature, length, and extent of the contacts between him and unrepentant terrorist and modern education radical Bill Ayers, starting with Obama's description of Ayers during one of the Democratic primary debates as just "a guy from my neighborhood."

When, in the third presidential debate, John McCain described Obama has having "launched" his political career in Bill Ayers' living room, that created a direct controversy between the two presidential candidates about the nature of this political event.

The Los Angeles Times wrote that there is "no recorded basis" for McCain's claim. That's not saying that John McCain was incorrect, or had relied on reports that the Los Angeles Times believed were unreliable. That's saying that John McCain made his criticism up out of thin air.

Patrick Frey, who blogs as "Patterico," proved that there in fact was a "recorded basis" for McCain's claim, a blog post which had been put up in 2005 — long before the current campaign and before anyone had any motivation to spin the facts — by someone who had first-hand personal experience of the facts because she had attended the event at Ayers' home. She wrote that Ayers and his wife were "launching" Obama's political career.

The Obama campaign nevertheless insists that the event in Ayers' home can't properly be characterized as the "launch" of Obama's political career and that the event in Ayers' home was merely one of many contemporaneous events, others of which better deserve that description.

Okay, then. That means there are conflicting sources. But at least one such source — from someone with personal knowledge and no motivation to lie — supports McCain's claim. When the LAT itself first claimed that there was "no recorded basis" for this characterization (and implicitly but necessarily that John McCain had made this claim up out of thin air), the LAT was, at a minimum, wrong. Perhaps it was an innocent mistake in their reporting, although we should hold major media outlets to a very high standards when they're accusing a presidential candidate of making something up out of thin air three weeks before the election.

But now comes the proof which rules out the possibility, at least on an on-going basis, that the LAT was merely mistaken. Now comes the proof that the LAT is deliberately, knowingly refusing to correct its prior misrepresentation of fact. Now comes the proof that the LAT's editors will withhold even a back-page correction to protect the election prospects of Barack Obama, rather than admit their error. If it wasn't a deliberate lie before, it is now. And the proof of that is conclusive: an email from an LAT official acknowledging the existence and content of the blog post, but announcing the LAT's decision not to issue a correction and to instead continue standing on its statement that there was "no recorded basis" for McCain's claim.

According to Jamie Gold, the LA Times' "Reader Representative" (an Orwellian phrase that ought to be changed to "Obama Agitprop Mouthpiece"), the newspaper is entitled to make a secret decision about which of competing sources to believe, and then to deny that the source which disagrees with them — and supports McCain's claim — ever even existed:

Here’s what the editors say: News reports reconstructing Obama’s campaign that year suggest that the poster was incorrect in claiming that the coffee at Ayers’ home ‘launched’ Obama’s career. Accounts differ, but what editors find suggests that Obama held a number of informal coffees that fall, and that he had made clear his intention to run before his appearance at Ayers’ house.

As such, the comments by the poster may reflect that person’s impression — or misimpression — but they are not something on which the Times would base a correction.

If that's indeed what the editors have concluded, then the correction ought to have read something like this: "The LAT was completely and inexcusably wrong in writing that there was 'no recorded basis' for Sen. McCain's claim that the event in Ayers' living room 'launched' Obama's career. We ought to have reported instead that there is at least one description of the event as 'launching Obama' made in 2005 by a long-time Democrat and current Obama supporter who actually attended the event, and then there are other, conflicting reports by people who may or may not have been at that event, who may or may not have personal knowledge, but who have a different impression. We choose to believe those unnamed sources, and so the LAT continues to believe that McCain was wrong, even if there was indeed at least one recorded basis for his claim and we were badly mistaken to imply that McCain had made his claim up out of thin air. We apologize for the error."

It's theoretically possible, in other words, to disbelieve the blog report, and to therefore continue to believe McCain was wrong. But it's not possible — not without expanding the original lie by denying and concealing the existence of the blog report entirely — to continue to insist that there was "no recorded basis" for McCain's claim.

We say someone is "lying through his teeth" when the liar is so very conscious that what he's saying is a lie that he can't help clenching his jaw to try to control his face. Jamie Gold is lying through her teeth — apparently at the instruction of her editors — for the purpose of perpetuating an unfair smear of John McCain.

My contempt for the LAT knows no bounds. The likely effect of their lie is arguably smaller, but in terms of how deliberately and knowingly they've abandoned of any semblance of journalistic ethics in order to subvert an American election, what the the Los Angeles Times is doing is indistinguishable from what Dan Rather and CBS News tried to do during Rathergate with the Killian Forgeries in 2004.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 06:57 PM in 2008 Election, Mainstream Media, Obama, Politics (2008) | Permalink

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