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Matthews Glows On Obamamercial: 'Fabulous...Just Right...Realism' --10/30/2008


1. Matthews Glows On Obamamercial: 'Fabulous...Just Right...Realism'
Chris Matthews came aboard the shortened Countdown after MSNBC, unlike FNC and CNN, aired the Obama campaign's half-hour infomercial on Wednesday night, and oozed over how "it was romance. It was realism" and "most important, the connection with the average person in the economic turmoil we face right now I thought was fabulous." Plus, the setting reminiscent of the Oval Office demonstrated "he's comfortable and we should be comfortable and will be with him in such a setting." Bottom line for Matthews: "I thought everything was just right."

2. NBC Frets Obviously Fake Flyer Will Confuse Its (Dumb) Viewers
Suggesting Brian Williams and the producers of NBC Nightly News assume a significant portion of their viewership is pretty dumb, the newscast began a story about how, as Williams fretted, "number of rumors and myths and threats that might keep some people away from the polls this year," by highlighting a flyer, riddled with glaring misspellings and non-words, which made a false announcement about the date to vote. Rehema Ellis, who asserted voter "anxiety is valid," intoned: "In Virginia, an official-looking flier is on the Internet saying, 'Republicans vote on November 4th and Democrats on November 5th.'" Ellis then decided she had to explain the obvious: "Not true. Tuesday, November 4th, is election day for everyone." Amongst the other "rumors and outright misinformation aimed at holding down voter turnout" which Ellis proceeded to fact check: "Outstanding parking tickets make you ineligible to vote."

3. ABC's Claire Shipman Probes Voters for Racism: Is Obama 'Uppity?'
On Wednesday's Good Morning America, reporter Claire Shipman used a test designed by a liberal professor to interrogate the supposedly unconscious racist views of a group of undecided voters. After taking the complicated quiz, which involved linking words with colors, Shipman grilled the men and women about whether negative advertising had changed their view of Senator Barack Obama. "Anyone here have a sense that he is arrogant," she challenged." Shipman followed up, "Anybody think he's uppity?" The ABC correspondent, who once cooed over the "fluid poetry" of Obama, wasn't dissuaded by the instance that none of voters thought of the Democrat that way. She solemnly intoned: "But in fact, although 'ready' and 'calm' were in the top five [test results], 'uppity,' that classic southern expression drenched in racial overtones, was the number one word subconsciously associated with Barack Obama." And at no point did Shipman mention that Professor Drew Weston of Emory University, the co-designer of this test, is a liberal who bashed Senator John McCain and asserted the Republican's only chance to victory was "the low road."

4. NBC's Andrea Mitchell: Even the Weather is Against McCain
NBC's Andrea Mitchell devoted virtually her entire story on Wednesday's Today show to jotting down all the negatives going against the McCain campaign, including Obama's advantages in fundraising, ad time, the polls and even the weather as she passed along this omen: "Still, at a time when everything can be viewed as a sign of how things are going, they [McCain campaign] called off their midday rally outside Philadelphia because of stormy weather."

5. CNN Graphics: 'Palins & the Fringe' vs Obama 'Braving...Attacks'
CNN practiced a more subtle form of bias during two reports in October by using its on-screen graphics. On October 14th's Newsroom program, a graphic accompanying a segment on Sarah and Todd Palin's connections to the Alaskan Independence Party proclaimed: "The Palins and the Fringe." On the other hand, a chyron from a report on Tuesday's Situation Room about Barack Obama making campaign stops in bad weather raved, "Braving Rain & Attacks: Obama in PA. and Virginia."

6. WaPost Puts Obama's Sleazy Online-Donor Security Avoidance on Page...2
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Obama campaign confirmed that it's "allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity." Why is this story not on Page One? (It's in small print on the Post's home page: "Obama Accepting Untraceable Prepaid Credit Cards.")

7. NYT Headline:'East Germany Had Its Charms, Crushed by Capitalism'
"East Germany Had Its Charms, Crushed by Capitalism." A book review headline that's a worthy companion to 1992's infamous: "A Gulag Breeds Rage, Yes, but Also Serenity." Veteran New York Times contributor and book critic Richard Eder reviewed "New Lives" by German novelist Ingo Schulze, a book that excoriates what colonizing Western capitalism has done to the former East Germany. Schultz portrays capitalism as a force bulldozing everything in its path, even worthwhile values that had survived the Communist regime. That set up this jaw-dropping headline in Wednesday's paper: "East Germany Had Its Charms, Crushed by Capitalism."


Matthews Glows On Obamamercial: 'Fabulous...Just
Right...Realism'

Chris Matthews came aboard the shortened Countdown after MSNBC, unlike FNC and CNN, aired the Obama campaign's half-hour infomercial on Wednesday night, and oozed over how "it was romance. It was realism" and "most important, the connection with the average person in the economic turmoil we face right now I thought was fabulous." Plus, the setting reminiscent of the Oval Office demonstrated "he's comfortable and we should be comfortable and will be with him in such a setting." Bottom line for Matthews: "I thought everything was just right."

The initial reaction from Matthews when prompted by Keith Olbermann:

I thought it was Hollywood. It was romance. It was realism. The technical quality of it, the production values were perfect, the way they timed going to live, the biographical material. But most important, the connection with the average person in the economic turmoil we face right now I thought was fabulous. Of course, there we see the setting, which is very much like an Oval Office setting, showing that he's comfortable and we should be comfortable and will be with him in such a setting. I thought everything was just right.

I thought, the most important part of it, I thought, was the biographical, showing him talking about his mom and talking about him taking a chance in history and not wanting to miss it having seen his mother die at a young age. It was very human and I think you'd have to be a tough customer not to be touched by it.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The infomercial also ran at 8 PM EDT/7 PM CDT on CBS, NBC and Fox, as well as Univision, BET and TV One.

NBC Frets Obviously Fake Flyer Will Confuse
Its (Dumb) Viewers

Suggesting Brian Williams and the producers of NBC Nightly News assume a significant portion of their viewership is pretty dumb, the newscast began a story about how, as Williams fretted, "number of rumors and myths and threats that might keep some people away from the polls this year," by highlighting a flyer, riddled with glaring misspellings and non-words, which made a false announcement about the date to vote. Rehema Ellis, who asserted voter "anxiety is valid," intoned: "In Virginia, an official-looking flier is on the Internet saying, 'Republicans vote on November 4th and Democrats on November 5th.'" Ellis then decided she had to explain the obvious: "Not true. Tuesday, November 4th, is election day for everyone."

For expert comment, Ellis turned to Jonah Goldman of Election Protection, a group partnered with a who's who of left-wing groups, including NBC News and MSNBC. (After her story, Williams plugged Election Protection to answer view concerns about "voting problems or problems at the polls.") Goldman worried: "New voters aren't as familiar with the way that elections run, and because of that, they're more vulnerable to these types of misinformation."

Election Protection's list of partners: www.866ourvote.org

Amongst the "rumors and outright misinformation aimed at holding down voter turnout" which Ellis proceeded to fact check: "Outstanding parking tickets make you ineligible to vote" and "Can voters dealing with home foreclosure lose the right to vote?"

An article in Tuesday's Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, which ignited left-wing bloggers, "Phony flier says Virginians vote on different days," reported: "The somewhat official-looking flier -- it features the state board logo and the state seal -- is dated Oct. 24 and indicates that 'an emergency session of the General Assembly has adopted the follwing (sic) emergency regulations to ease the load on local electorial (sic) precincts and ensure a fair electorial process.'"

October 27 newspaper story: hamptonroads.com

Check the posted newspaper story for an image of the flyer, or gp here: media.hamptonroads.com

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The intro and start of the story on the Wednesday, October 29 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: It is estimated one in nine voters have already cast their votes in early voting in 32 states. Turnout, by all accounts, is robust, record-breaking in some spots. But there's also a downside, a number of rumors and myths and threats that might keep some people away from the polls this year. So tonight we try to cut through the confusion. Our own Rehema Ellis reports on making your vote count.

REHEMA ELLIS: In this historic election, more than 15 million Americans have already voted in 32 states. As turnout grows, so do concerns.
MAN ON STREET: It's my first time. I don't know what to expect.
ELLIS: The anxiety is valid. In Virginia, an official-looking flier is on the Internet saying, "Republicans vote on November 4th and Democrats on November 5th." Not true. Tuesday, November 4th, is election day for everyone.
JONAH GOLDMAN, ELECTION PROTECTION: New voters aren't as familiar with the way that elections run, and because of that, they're more vulnerable to these types of misinformation.
ELLIS: While it's true voting rules differ from state to state, authorities say rumors and outright misinformation aimed at holding down voter turnout are creating lots of questions. Questions, such as, can voters dealing with home foreclosure lose the right to vote? No....

ABC's Claire Shipman Probes Voters for
Racism: Is Obama 'Uppity?'

On Wednesday's Good Morning America, reporter Claire Shipman used a test designed by a liberal professor to interrogate the supposedly unconscious racist views of a group of undecided voters. After taking the complicated quiz, which involved linking words with colors, Shipman grilled the men and women about whether negative advertising had changed their view of Senator Barack Obama. "Anyone here have a sense that he is arrogant," she challenged." Shipman followed up, "Anybody think he's uppity?"

The ABC correspondent, who once cooed over the "fluid poetry" of Obama, wasn't dissuaded by the instance that none of voters thought of the Democrat that way. She solemnly intoned: "But in fact, although 'ready' and 'calm' were in the top five [test results], 'uppity,' that classic southern expression drenched in racial overtones, was the number one word subconsciously associated with Barack Obama." And at no point did Shipman mention that Professor Drew Weston of Emory University, the co-designer of this test, is a liberal who bashed Senator John McCain and asserted the Republican's only chance to victory was "the low road."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Writing at the New Republic Web site on June 23, he attacked:

With all that stacked against him, the only road that could take McCain to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the low road, one of the few pieces of infrastructure left in good repair by President Bush. His father paved it against Michael Dukakis....The path to success for McCain is to make the election a referendum on his opponent, by working in silent concert with 527 groups and media outlets such as Fox News to pursue character assassination, guilt by association, and, most of all, the effort to paint Obama as different, foreign, unlike "us," and dangerous (and did I mention that he's black?).

See New Republic: www.tnr.com

Speaking of unseen bias, do those words sound like ones coming from an objective, fair source or a person who wants to see racism everywhere? And Shipman gave no real explanation as to why viewers should buy the validity of this so-called test. She breezily explained its workings this way: "The test shows a picture of the candidates while flashing words in different colors. You have to identify the color by pressing a key. The longer it takes you to do that, the more meaning that word has for you." (During the test, she did briefly ask the group about subconscious feeling they might have over McCain's age, but mostly focused on Obama.)

Shipman followed up her questions about Obama being "uppity" and "arrogant" with video of John McCain's now-famous "celebrity" ad played. (This was the one that featured images of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and large Obama crowds.) Over the footage, Shipman insinuated, "And that's the point, say the experts. Ads like these, suggesting arrogance, or who-does-he-think-he-is, can make a lasting impression."

She closed by adding, "But whether they [the ads] ultimately enter your decision making process is up to you. Well, the conscious you." So, in other words, it's not possible to poke fun of Obama as a celebrity or call him arrogant without being a racist?

As noted earlier, Shipman seems to have her own bias, conscious or subconscious, towards Barack Obama. On the January 18, 2007 GMA, speaking of the (then) simmering primary battle between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, she rhapsodized, "And the side-by-side talent show? Next to Obama's fluid poetry, Hillary Clinton's delivery can seem overly cautious." What should viewers take away about Shipman's "unconscious mind" from that particular quote? See a January 19, 2007 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:43am on October 29:

DIANE SAWYER: And with six more days to go until the election, you have to look back and realize what a withering, torrent of negative ads the American people have been subjected to in the past months. And most of us think, oh, they don't affect us. We tune them out. Right? We're above and beyond all of that. Well, stay tuned because senior national correspondent, Claire Shipman has a test.
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: The unconscious mind. What exactly lurks inside? Does any of this barrage of information stick? And how does it affect what you might do when you're alone in the voting booth?
PROFESSOR DREW WESTEN (Psychology, Emory University): You can be pulled in two levels by your gut. One of them is the conscious, gut-level feeling of this isn't how I should be voting, or this is how I should be voting. And another is a gut-level feeling that you're not even aware of.
SHIPMAN: Drew Weston and Joel Weinberger put these largely undecided Virginia voters through a simple, online test that measures implicit biases. Thoughts you might not have even known are in your head.
JOHN ROBILETTE (Virginia voter): I was surprised by this.
SHIPMAN: They might not have thought ads like this affected them.
VOICE [OBAMA AD]: Out of ideas. Out of touch.
SHIPMAN: Is anybody here who thinks John McCain is too old to be president?
KEITH HAGEN (Virginia voter): I think if you get through the riggers of a campaign, I think you're physically fit enough to be president.
SHIPMAN: But, according to their test results, old was one of the top five words they associated with John McCain, along with Bush, out of touch and erratic. And the buzz words about Obama?
SARAH PALIN: As someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists.
SHIPMAN: Is there anyone who thinks he has connection to terrorists?
ALL: No.
SHIPMAN: But, in fact, that word, terrorist, was one of the top three in their unconscious minds about Barack Obama.
ROBILETTE: Are you sure this is fool-proof, this test?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Well, I don't know how honest we're all being.
SHIPMAN: The test shows a picture of the candidates while flashing words in different colors. You have to identify the color by pressing a key. The longer it takes you to do that, the more meaning that word has for you. And words that evoke fear are especially prone to stick.
PROFESSOR JOEL WEINBERGER (Psychology, Adelphi University): We're more open to negativity. Just, our brain is. It's wired that way because we are wired to avoid threats more so than we're wired to go after positives.
SHIPMAN: It's this, the strip of prefrontal cortex, our thinking brain, that battles our unconscious brain as we make decisions. And so what about that loaded issue of race? Is it a factor in how they might vote?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: No.
ROBILETTE: Absolutely not.
SHIPMAN: But- Anyone here have a sense that he is arrogant?
ALL: No.
SHIPMAN: Anybody think he's uppity?
ANDREW DARROW (Virginia voter): No.
SHIPMAN: But in fact, although 'ready' and 'calm' were in the top five, 'uppity,' that classic southern expression drenched in racial overtones, was the number one word subconsciously associated with Barack Obama. Does it surprise you guys?
ROBILETTE: I am surprised by that. I am. Because it doesn't figure into my consciousness.
SHIPMAN: And that's the point, say the experts. Ads like these [video of McCain's "celebrity" ad plays to Shipman's audio], suggesting arrogance, or who does he think he is, can make a lasting impression. But whether they ultimately enter your decision making process is up to you. Well, the conscious you.
DARROW: It's the back of your mind, until the day you go to that poll. And it's still going to be there when you're sitting there deciding, am I going to press this button or that button?

NBC's Andrea Mitchell: Even the Weather
is Against McCain

NBC's Andrea Mitchell devoted virtually her entire story on Wednesday's Today show to jotting down all the negatives going against the McCain campaign, including Obama's advantages in fundraising, ad time, the polls and even the weather as she passed along this omen: "Still, at a time when everything can be viewed as a sign of how things are going, they [McCain campaign] called off their midday rally outside Philadelphia because of stormy weather."

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday morning, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

First up, Mitchell started her piece by tallying up all the Obama media appearances: "John McCain is trying to get his message out as Barack Obama tries to dominate the airwaves with a prime time infomercial just before the World Series game, a late night rally with Bill Clinton and an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Now Mitchell did air a clip of McCain quipping to Philadelphia voters that at least he's not going to delay their chance to watch the Phillies in the World Series, but she countered: "John McCain took a shot at Barack Obama's planned TV blitz, but he struck out when Fox, broadcasting the rain-delayed fifth game, said that wasn't the plan. Fox is simply bumping its pre-game show for Obama's program. The Series will start on time."

Mitchell then moved on to a McCain attack on Joe Biden, "McCain ripped into Obama after Joe Biden seemed to lower the $250,000 a year ceiling for those who would get tax cuts under the Democratic plan," However Mitchell couldn't let that Biden gaffe stand as she pointed out: "Biden aides called that, 'desperate.'"

Mitchell quickly turned to yet another Obama talking point, his lead in a new poll: "In the latest sign of trouble for the Republicans a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/myspace survey of new voters and those who didn't vote last time had Obama leading McCain by more than 2 to 1."

After noting that negative poll result for McCain/Palin, Mitchell stressed another hurdle, alleged GOP backbiting: "Facing an uphill climb McCain and Sarah Palin disputed reports of infighting between their staffs."

Mitchell did show a clip of McCain and Palin dismissing the allegations of infighting but then switched to one last GOP stumbling block -- the weather: "Still, at a time when everything can be viewed as a sign of how things are going, they called off their midday rally outside Philadelphia because of stormy weather, while 50 miles away Obama plowed ahead."

The following is a complete transcript of the Mitchell story as it was aired on the October 29 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: But let's begin with the presidential election. Like I said it's now six days away and the candidates are giving it their all on the ground and on the air. NBC's Andrea Mitchell is keeping an eye on all of it. Good morning to you, Andrea.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Meredith. The candidates are battling each other in Florida today. John McCain is trying to get his message out as Barack Obama tries to dominate the airwaves with a prime time infomercial just before the World Series game, a late night rally with Bill Clinton and an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
JOHN MCCAIN: No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I'm president.
MITCHELL: In battleground Pennsylvania, where the Phillies lead in the World Series, John McCain took a shot at Barack Obama's planned TV blitz, but he struck out when Fox, broadcasting the rain-delayed fifth game, said that wasn't the plan. Fox is simply bumping its pre-game show for Obama's program. The Series will start on time. With a $100 million advantage in TV dollars, Obama hopes to reach millions of prime time viewers tonight with his economic plan.
BARACK OBAMA: John McCain has ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy towards a cliff. And now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas.
MITCHELL: McCain counters that Obama is not being candid about his tax cuts.
MCCAIN: Senator Obama is running to be redistributionist in chief. I'm running to be commander-in-chief.
MITCHELL: McCain ripped into Obama after Joe Biden seemed to lower the $250,000 a year ceiling for those who would get tax cuts under the Democratic plan.
JOSEPH BIDEN: Which should go to middle class people, people making under $150,000 a year.
MCCAIN: You getting an idea what's on their mind? Huh? A little sneak peak. It's interesting how their definition of rich has a way of creeping down.
MITCHELL: Biden aides called that, "desperate," saying Biden was just giving an example, not setting a limit on who would get a tax break. In the latest sign of trouble for the Republicans a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/myspace survey of new voters and those who didn't vote last time had Obama leading McCain by more than 2 to 1. And 64 percent of those voters viewed Obama positively. Only 24 percent were negative. McCain's positives were 29 percent. 52 percent, a majority, were negative. All of this suggests a big turnout of new voters would help Obama. Facing an uphill climb McCain and Sarah Palin disputed reports of infighting between their staffs in an interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo.
SARAH PALIN: It, it came down, the way it was supposed to, when it's all good. And it is very good. The partnership is very good. And, and John McCain he, he is a true leader.
JOHN MCCAIN: I couldn't be happier. I couldn't be happier. The enthusiasm, the support, the people who come to, and look, here's two mavericks. Here's two mavericks. Did anybody expect us to agree, to agree on every issue? We're not gonna agree on every issue but that's the fun of our relationship.
MITCHELL: Still at a time when everything can be viewed as a sign of how things are going, they called off their midday rally outside Philadelphia because of stormy weather, while 50 miles away Obama plowed ahead.
OBAMA: Whether it's rain or sleet or snow, we are going to go out and we are gonna vote, because it's too much at stake. There is too much at stake right now for us to back off.
MITCHELL: To combat discouraging independent polls, the McCain campaign has released its own internal polling. They claim that the race has narrowed significantly in the last few days and is now tied across the key battleground states. If they're right this will be a very close election despite all other predictions. Meredith?
VIEIRA: Andrea Mitchell, thank you.

CNN Graphics: 'Palins & the Fringe' vs
Obama 'Braving...Attacks'

CNN practiced a more subtle form of bias during two reports in October by using its on-screen graphics. On October 14th's Newsroom program, a graphic accompanying a segment on Sarah and Todd Palin's connections to the Alaskan Independence Party proclaimed: "The Palins and the Fringe." On the other hand, a chyron from a report on Tuesday's Situation Room about Barack Obama making campaign stops in bad weather raved, "Braving Rain & Attacks: Obama in PA. and Virginia."

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The Situation Room led its 4 pm Eastern hour on Tuesday with reports on the day's campaign stops by John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama. Host Wolf Blitzer introduced these reports by highlighting how "[a]ll three began the day in Pennsylvania, braving some pretty nasty weather and some bitter attacks." Correspondent Dana Bash then detailed the Republican candidates' push in Pennsylvania, including how McCain had to cancel a rally due to rain. The graphic which accompanied Bash's report made no mention of the weather, but focused instead on the McCain campaign's emphasis on the tax issue: "McCain-Palin One-Two Punch: Hitting Obama On Taxes."

After Bash's report, Blitzer then introduced Jessica Yellin's report on the Obama campaign, and proclaimed that "Barack Obama tried to prove today that he can stand the political heat from his opponents, and the cold and rain out on the campaign trail. In Pennsylvania today, Senator Obama rallied supporters who stood out in the mud and got soaked waiting for him to speak."

Yellin then gave a preview of Obama's speech in Harrisonburg, Virginia:

JESSICA YELLIN: It really is, Wolf, and Barack Obama is in one of the reddest parts of this one-time red state. This county went for George Bush in 2000 and 2004 by more than 70 percent -- seven-zero, and this particular city by more than 50 percent both years. But today, Barack Obama is here stumping for votes and making John McCain fight even harder in this state.
Now, we talked to a lot of independent voters here in this audience of mostly students who tend to have a conservative bent. But many of them say they just don't know which way to go this time around because of the economy, and they say they're here because they actually keep hearing different things from the two candidates. They don't know what to believe, and they said they wanted to hear it from one of the candidates themselves.
Now, one of the things we're going to hear Barack Obama drive home in his comments just a short time from now is his difference with John McCain on health care reform. He's going to go after John McCain, accusing him of proposing a plan that would provide people with worse health care than they have now. And, well, they might take it a little bit of context, but they're going to quote a comment from one of John McCain's economic advisers, suggesting that people will get better health care from their employers now than under the different proposal John McCain has in the future. So look forward to hearing that from Barack Obama just a short time from now. Wolf?

Note that at the end of her report, Yellin gave the Obama campaign's talking point about McCain's health care proposal without reporting on the McCain campaign response.

Two weeks earlier, during the Newsroom segment on October 14, anchor Rick Sanchez interviewed David Neiwert of the liberal website Salon.com about how Todd Palin was once a member of the Alaskan Independence Party and how Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been "friendly with some of its members." James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times criticized Sanchez for hinting in one of his questions that the Palins' political views might be similar to that of convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh. Rainey even mocked the sensationalism of the chyron and how Sanchez treated the story.

For more on Rainey's column in which he criticized Sanchez's segment on CNN, see Ken Shepherd's October 15 item on NewsBusters.org, "LAT's Rainey: Palin Not Most Likely to Secede," at: newsbusters.org

WaPost Puts Obama's Sleazy Online-Donor
Security Avoidance on Page...2

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Obama campaign confirmed that it's "allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity." Why is this story not on Page One? (It's in small print on the Post's home page: "Obama Accepting Untraceable Prepaid Credit Cards.") Then there's this nugget, buried in paragraphs nine and ten, about what spurred the Post story by reporter Matthew Mosk:

The Obama team's disclosures came in response to questions from The Washington Post about the case of Mary T. Biskup, a retired insurance manager from Manchester, Mo., who turned up on Obama's FEC reports as having donated $174,800 to the campaign. Contributors are limited to giving $2,300 for the general election.

Biskup, who had scores of Obama contributions attributed to her, said in an interview that she never donated to the candidate. "That's an error," she said. Moreover, she added, her credit card was never billed for the donations, meaning someone appropriated her name and made the contributions with another card.

SUSPEND Excerpt

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Mosk first reported on the Biskup mess-up more than a week ago, in an October 21 blog entry. Why did it take the Post a week for the newspaper to put this story in play in the real newspaper? Instead of putting this story on page one, the Post is highlighting two Amy Goldstein articles on the candidates' health care plans, which could have run on any day of the week.

For Mosk's first report on Mary T. Biskup, see "Obama's $175,000 Donor?" at: voices.washingtonpost.com

Despite the inside-the-paper placement, the Post deserves some credit for some digging on this story, but on the other hand, it could be argued that this doesn't need to be praised, because this is what consumers expect the press to do. What the press really seems to hate to do right now is acknowledge in any direct way that the McCain-Palin campaign can't help but look like the political-reform ticket when compared to Obama's sleazy security-disabling procedures.

Here's more meat from the Mosk story:

Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.

The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations.

In recent weeks, questionable contributions have created headaches for Obama's accounting team as it has tried to explain why campaign finance filings have included itemized donations from individuals using fake names, such as Es Esh or Doodad Pro. Those revelations prompted conservative bloggers to further test Obama's finance vetting by giving money using the kind of prepaid cards that can be bought at a drugstore and cannot be traced to a donor.

The problem with such cards, campaign finance lawyers said, is that they make it impossible to tell whether foreign nationals, donors who have exceeded the limits, government contractors or others who are barred from giving to a federal campaign are making contributions.

"They have opened the floodgates to all this money coming in," said Sean Cairncross, chief counsel to the Republican National Committee. "I think they've made the determination that whatever money they have to refund on the back end doesn't outweigh the benefit of taking all this money upfront."

The Obama campaign has shattered presidential fundraising records, in part by capitalizing on the ease of online giving. Of the $150 million the senator from Illinois raised in September, nearly $100 million came in over the Internet.

END of Excerpt

It's interesting that Mosk would acknowledge that conservative bloggers were the ones who tested Obama's online donation security, and not the "mainstream" media. Remember this when the media elites complain that the bloggers would have nothing to write about without all their "objective" reporting.

It's mind-boggling that journalists would see Obama's mind-boggling $150 million haul in September, and not immediately raise questions about it. For the most part, the number was immediately greeted as another impressive sign of the Obama juggernaut's momentum.

For Mosk's October 29 article in the Washington Post, "Obama Accepting Untraceable Donations: Contributions Reviewed After Deposits," go to: www.washingtonpost.com

NYT Headline:'East Germany Had Its Charms,
Crushed by Capitalism'

"East Germany Had Its Charms, Crushed by Capitalism." A book review headline that's a worthy companion to 1992's infamous: "A Gulag Breeds Rage, Yes, but Also Serenity." Veteran New York Times contributor and book critic Richard Eder reviewed "New Lives" by German novelist Ingo Schulze, a book that excoriates what colonizing Western capitalism has done to the former East Germany. Schultz portrays capitalism as a force bulldozing everything in its path, even worthwhile values that had survived the Communist regime. That set up this jaw-dropping headline in Wednesday's paper: "East Germany Had Its Charms, Crushed by Capitalism."

One can hardly conceive a newspaper headline that suggested a fascist society had its good points; a headline reading "Nazi Germany Had Its Charms, Crushed by Allies" is a vanishingly unlikely prospect. Was the same headline writer at work who penned (over a story of the last Soviet political prisoners being released) the infamous Times headline of February 12, 1992 : "A Gulag Breeds Rage, Yes, but Also Serenity"?

[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

After the stunner of a headline about East Germany, the review itself is almost an afterthought. Eder's apparent pox-on both-their-houses attitude is disturbing as well, though one is hard-pressed to know where the writer Schulze ends and critic Eden begins. An excerpt:

Born and educated in East Germany, where he began to write, he has directed his fire at two targets. One is the harsh and (almost worse) stultifying Communist regime. The other is the capitalist tide that flooded in from the West once the wall came down, overpowering a ravaged and demoralized society and buying up quite a bit of it.

....

For the post-wall West German ascendancy, on the other hand, he has only anger. To Mr. Schulze what happened was not reunification but something closer to colonization. Bad as things were in the East, he has suggested, there were certain values that grew up against the distortions, like plants sprouting, marred but tenacious, through rubble. The Western bulldozer crushed them with a mix of exploitation and incentive.

A minor character in "New Lives," a die-hard leftist holdout in the reunified nation, makes an argument for the old Communist states: "We, in the East, had been the guarantors that capitalism in the West had worn a human face. But that was all over now."

Odd, seemingly. Yet this very long novel describes a moral, social and economic plundering by an invading capitalism -- unrestrained in the absence of any countervailing force. Unlike Mr. Schulze's earlier work, the book has a tone of unalloyed bleakness. This bleakness colors not just the new situation but also the prewall society that he had previously treated with a measure of human complexity. "New Lives" is all scorn, for the old as well as the new.

END of Excerpt

For the October 29 book review: www.nytimes.com

For the latest instances of liberal bias in the New York Times, check TimesWatch regularly: www.timeswatch.org

-- Brent Baker