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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

SF Chron insists that buried and unremarked Obama promises to bankrupt coal industry and bring skyrocketing electric rates weren't "hidden," but offers no explanation why they weren't newsworthy

Personally, I felt like this post made the San Francisco Chronicle look like they were totally in the tank for Obama.

It occurs to me now that that's never really been in dispute, though, has it?

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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)

On the subject of the bombshell quotes from Barack Obama about "bankrupting" the coal industry and making electric rates "skyrocket" — about which I wrote at my usual tedious length on Sunday evening, and an audio excerpt of which Hugh has since posted separately — the San Francisco Chronicle is now furiously trying to cover its collective fanny in a spectacularly unconvincing fashion.

"Political Writer" Carla Marinucci of the S.F. Chronicle righteously asserts that the audio which contained these quotes has been posted at its website since January 2008, and I have no reason to doubt that. She then offers up the Chronicle's come-back to a question from Gov. Palin on the campaign trail:

''Why is the audiotape just now surfacing?'' Palin asked the crowd, according to a report from CBS News. Someone in the crowd shouted, ''Liberal media!'

Let's be very clear: the Chronicle did not, and has never, hidden any interview, audio or video, of Obama from its readers.

But Ms. Marinucci's firey and "very clear" response is to an accusation that Gov. Palin didn't make, and Ms. Marinucci utterly failed to answer the very clear question which Gov. Palin did ask.

The very clear fact is that Ms. Marinucci, along with staff writer Joe Garofoli, wrote a lengthy news article about the interview on January 18, 2008, in which they and their editors necessarily had to have made the editorial decision not to even mention either Sen. Obama's statement that his plan would "bankrupt" those building new coal-fired plants or that it would cause electric rates to "skyrocket." Ms. Marinucci claims that the Chronicle "promoted" the story of its interview with Obama, and that's true enough — the story she wrote did appear on page A1, where it would make the most favorable impression possible for Barack Obama in his then-fierce battle against Hillary Clinton — but a Google News search of that newspaper for that day reveals six total returns mentioning Obama, exactly none of which also include the words "coal" or "bankrupt" or "skyrocket."

Ms. Marinucci didn't just "bury her lede." Rather, in metaphoric terms, she took it out onto the Golden Gate Bridge, shot it in the back of the head, and pushed it off into an unmarked watery grave in hopes that the corpse would never float to the surface.

Then two days later, editorial page editor John Diaz wrote a puff piece about the interview entitled Obama's Straight-Ahead Style. Its online version did contain a link to the tape (h/t InstaPundit), and it includes this sentence: "He demonstrated depth on an assortment of issues: mortgage securities, coal, California air-pollution laws." What a lovely and informative journalistic choice of words! As Mr. Diaz sees things, a deliberate policy decision to bankrupt an industry and cause electric rates to skyrocket merely demonstrates a candidate's "depth," but is not worthy of further comment. (I would have chosen, I think, a two-word formulation instead, as in: "He demonstrated deep insanity on an assortment of issues ....") Technorati indicates that the Chronicle never again linked to that video, nor to the .mp3 audio version linked today by Ms. Marinucci.

Cumulatively, that constitutes awful, indefensible journalistic judgment — the current national interest in these quotes proves that conclusively, but anyone working for a junior high school newspaper would have instantly realized the newsworthiness of these quotes if he or she were not completely "in the tank" for Obama.

Leaving these quotes buried in a fifty-three minute, 336MB video is not, in my own judgment, quite as bad as the Los Angeles Times' making (and then hiding behind) an unethical promise to a source not to release a videotape of another newsworthy event (the Khalidi dinner). But certainly when we see how the Chronicle's top writers and editors used such pathetic and compromised judgment in picking and choosing what to report as newsworthy from the Obama interview, the public has even more reason to doubt that the LA Times has been forthcoming, fair, and complete in its reporting on the videotape it's still concealing entirely.

Once upon a time (in 1930s, to be a bit more specific), when a pair of comic book authors named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster needed an identity and a "day job" for the alter ego of their crime-fighting super hero, they dreamed up "Clark Kent," a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet. If they were making such choices today, such idealists would do better to cast Superman's alter ego as a used car salesman, a carnival barker, or even an investment banker than as a reporter for any mainstream media source. "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" has been sacrificed for "Spin, Bias, and Obama's The One." With all too rare exceptions, there's nothing "professional" left in the profession of journalism, folks. Lois Lane would probably be in the tank for Obama — foreshadowing lots of future rescues that are going to be needed if he's elected — but I think Clark Kent might weep for his disgraced profession.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 05:15 AM in 2008 Election, Energy, Mainstream Media, Politics (2008) | Permalink

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