Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fried Bacon, Jr.

Perry Bacon, Jr. is the byline on today's front page Washington Post article on the "Obama is a Muslim" smear campaign creeping through America's inboxes. Although Obama had previously addressed the issue, Bacon and The WaPo felt this warranted a front page article that did more to again obscure the facts than it did shed light on what is obviously a feeble minded attempt to Swift-Boat the candidate? From the story:

Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.
Starts out ok, huh? Nothing to horrible there. Except for one minor, itty-bitty detail Bacon never finds page space to directly reference; every one of the "rumors" have been confirmed as "lies" by both the Obama campaign, and previous journalists. More:
Obama aides sharply disputed the initial stories suggesting that he was a Muslim, and in Iowa, the campaign keeps a letter at its offices, signed by five members of the local clergy, vouching for the candidate's Christian faith. Aware that his religious belief remains an issue, Obama has denied a separate charge: that he does not hold his hand to his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. This rumor stemmed from a photo that was taken while the national anthem was being played.
Ah, back to that again. I thought we'd cleared that up as well. Oh wait, we did. So what is the point of all of this? That's the trouble. There seems to be none. No confirmation or dispelling of rumor, just a National Enquirer-esque repetition of the rumors themselves. On the front page.

Under critical blow-back, Bacon has issued a statement defending the article. But with further trespass against factual reporting, his statement itself is more clear than the front page article itself.

TPM reports:
WaPo reporter Lois Romano addressed the controversy over the story. She observed that Obama has denied being a Muslim, adding that "airing some of this and giving him a chance to deny its accuracy could be viewed as setting the record straight."

Right, but the problem here is that WaPo, and not just Obama, should have "denied the accuracy" of the Obama-is-a-Muslim nonsense. The Obama Muslim smear is based on lies, not "rumors." Bacon in his statement above calls the Obama Muslim smears "falsehoods." But they aren't identified as such in the piece.
Without delving into the depravity of paranoia that would disqualify a Muslim in the first place, it is at least worth asking what the point of this article was. In it's vague rhetoric of "rumors" and implications, it does nothing to illuminated the previously verified fallacies of the smear campaign.

This now passes for journalism? This is being a "watchdog of democracy?" Would it kill today's media to ask themselves "how will what I am writing better inform the public?" In not doing so, they leave it up to us to ask how we will be better informed by reading what passes for content in many of today's newspapers, and support only those who offer us more.

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