PDA

View Full Version : The Smear Gap



DenButsu
08-21-2008, 11:32 PM
The Smear Gap
Jonathan Alter

This is hardly the nastiest campaign in recent memory. But it's not shaping up as the "civil" contest that both candidates promised either. Instead, we're seeing the emergence of a "smear gap". John McCain making stuff up about Barack Obama, and Obama trying to figure out how hard he should hit back.

As usual, news organizations are deeply afraid to say that one side is more negative than the other. Doing so sounds "unfair." It's much easier, and less controversial, to say that "both candidates" are being negative. That would be "balanced", but also untrue.

One of the wonders of the Web is that it's now possible for neutral observers to determine the truth or falsity of various attacks, and to have that information instantly available to anyone. The best arbiter is factcheck.org, which is sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania (Disclosure: Newsweek.com has a partnership with factcheck.org). If you don't believe me about the smear gap, check their analyses of campaign ads.

Obama has negative ads airing in more than a dozen states below the radar of the national media. One ad, in Ohio, links McCain to the 8,200 lost jobs at DHL, the German-owned overnight delivery service. That goes too far. McCain's support for a merger involving DHL hardly makes him culpable for the job loss. But overall, and to his credit, Obama has not engaged in anywhere near the number of falsehoods as McCain.

For about a month, McCain's campaign has been resorting to charges that are patently false. When Obama traveled abroad in July, to positive reviews, McCain decided he had to make attack ads that went far beyond the norm. In the past, plainly deceptive ads were the province of the Republican National Committee or the Democratic National Committee or independent committees free to fling mud that didn't bear the fingerprints of candidates. But not this time. These smears come directly from the candidate.

First, a McCain ad charged that Obama was responsible for higher gas prices, which was not just false but absurd. Next, an ad said Obama had cancelled his trip to visit wounded soldiers in Germany because he couldn't bring the press along. I was in Germany at the time, and as every reporter knew, the visit to the military hospital was never going to be open, not even to a press pool. It appeared on no press schedules. Obama had cancelled the visit when it was clear that the Pentagon viewed it as political. The charge was simply untrue.

The now famous Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad, accusing Obama of...

...............

But when he resorts to these kinds of falsehoods, and casts such aspersions on his opponent's patriotism, John McCain is no longer putting his country first. If he were, he would recognize that the interests of the nation require a relatively truthful campaign. To fulfill his image of himself, McCain should stop lying about his opponent. For a man with his claims to honor and integrity, that's not too much to ask.Newsweek (http://www.newsweek.com/id/154058/output/print)

b1e9a8r5s
08-22-2008, 01:17 AM
While I will not dispute anything in your article (although I reserve the right to do so at a later time), I do think, and have seen many articles to suggest this, that the media's (favorable, and dominant) coverage of Obama over McCain actually plays to McCain's advantage. (I'm not sure if this is the proper thread for this, but didn't want to start my own, but if you feel the need, do so). Here's the thing. When Obama was doing so great and gaining all the momentum in the world, it was because the election was about Bush. Obama was talking about Bush and how McCain was a third term and so on (not that he has stopped this rhetoric). However, as reports, such as the Washington's Post's admission that they coverage Obama at a 3:1 level as to McCain have come out, they have given credence to McCain's celebrity adds. McCain has successfully changed the election from being about Bush to being about Obama. It is these terms that McCain has a very good chance as Obama does have potential limitations in terms of experience as well as his liberal record and changes in positions.

(The above was not meant to be a knock on Obama, but just a commentary on how I see the race.)

DenButsu
08-22-2008, 01:35 AM
Point taken, and I pretty much agree with it in terms of the mechanics (that McCain has successfully shifted the focus of this election to Obama). And it's fine to bring it up in this thread.

Tragic Johnson
08-22-2008, 03:08 AM
Newsweek (http://www.newsweek.com/id/154058/output/print)

Newsweek? :speechless: Jonathan Alter? :speechless: Talk about liberal bias and liberal talking points.

See how dumb that sounds.

DenButsu
08-22-2008, 03:59 AM
Newsweek? :speechless: Jonathan Alter? :speechless: Talk about liberal bias and liberal talking points.

See how dumb that sounds.

Well, I understand the point you're making.

Let me just say for my part, though, why I chose to post this (when there are a lot of other pieces that I pass over):

1. I wouldn't claim that Alter is unbiased. But I do think he's pretty fair. I mean he's a Newsweek guy - that ain't exactly The Daily Kos, ya know? - and he doesn't have an agenda in the way, say, Olbermann does. He's not on the attack. Also, I do think he's quite knowledgeable about politics, including Republican politics. For example, last October he wrote a piece saying Huckabee was the GOP's best bet (http://www.newsweek.com/id/57616/page/1). That was long before any surprise primary victories put Huckabee on the MSM map. I think that shows a pretty remarkable level of insight for someone who's not located deeply within Republican politics with their finger on the real pulse of what's going on there.

2. In this particular article, he leans heavily on factcheck.org's research and findings, and I do think that's a source that a lot of people from both the left and right can agree at least makes a pretty sincere effort to be unbiased and factually based. I mean, if their list of lies that Obama's told about McCain is really short and their list of lies that McCain's told about Obama is really long, and the number of untruthful ads from each candidate also reflects that major imbalance, then I think it's a pretty hard presentation to dispute. So I think the factual basis of his argument gives it validity well beyond any bias that he might have.

FearAD
08-22-2008, 01:38 PM
Newsweek? :speechless: Jonathan Alter? :speechless: Talk about liberal bias and liberal talking points.

See how dumb that sounds.

Biased? No republican can use the word bias as long as Fox News is around.

b1e9a8r5s
08-22-2008, 03:19 PM
Biased? No republican can use the word bias as long as Fox News is around.

HUH?! How does that make sense? For the sake of arguement, let's say Fox News is completely biased to the right. How does that stop Newsweek or any other publication from being biased to the left? They aren't mutually exclusive you know.

Jerry34
08-22-2008, 03:35 PM
I don't read Newsweek that often. But I happened to catch this article this week that I think paints Bush in a pretty good light (or at least the last few years of the administration).

http://www.newsweek.com/id/151731

SmthBluCitrus
08-22-2008, 03:46 PM
Yea, I like Zakaria. And, I rather enjoyed that article. For Newsweek being such a "liberal" magazine, I thought that article was a good and accurate representation of the past few years of the administration.

PHX-SOXFAN
08-22-2008, 03:53 PM
I don't read Newsweek that often. But I happened to catch this article this week that I think paints Bush in a pretty good light (or at least the last few years of the administration).

http://www.newsweek.com/id/151731

I guess if you view a person who screwed up every major decision for 5-6 years in a row only to make a few descent ones lately as "good". I think it outlines the close-minded, poorly planned, appoint your friends, don't work with anyone outside your set of views, ego driven, corporate catering, religious driven, unilateral and detrimental foreign policy, catastrophic economic policy, uninformed, c average students, ignore the experts (powell and greenspan), go your own way and the hell with the consequences administration. But wait, we'll back off on a few small things at the end.:rolleyes:

QuietWyatt
08-22-2008, 04:05 PM
Newsweek? :speechless: Jonathan Alter? :speechless: Talk about liberal bias and liberal talking points.

See how dumb that sounds.

Yes that sounds pretty dumb. Thanks for the laugh.

SmthBluCitrus
08-22-2008, 04:06 PM
I guess if you view a person who screwed up every major decision for 5-6 years in a row only to make a few descent ones lately as "good". I think it outlines the close-minded, poorly planned, appoint your friends, don't work with anyone outside your set of views, ego driven, corporate catering, religious driven, unilateral and detrimental foreign policy, catastrophic economic policy, uninformed, c average students, ignore the experts (powell and greenspan), go your own way and the hell with the consequences administration. But wait, we'll back off on a few small things at the end.:rolleyes:

Have you read the article?

Jerry34
08-22-2008, 04:21 PM
I guess if you view a person who screwed up every major decision for 5-6 years in a row only to make a few descent ones lately as "good". I think it outlines the close-minded, poorly planned, appoint your friends, don't work with anyone outside your set of views, ego driven, corporate catering, religious driven, unilateral and detrimental foreign policy, catastrophic economic policy, uninformed, c average students, ignore the experts (powell and greenspan), go your own way and the hell with the consequences administration. But wait, we'll back off on a few small things at the end.:rolleyes:

I was more addressing the earlier posts in this thread saying that Newsweek was a liberal rag.


Newsweek? Jonathan Alter? Talk about liberal bias and liberal talking points.

See how dumb that sounds.

If it was so liberal, I don't think they would have bothered with this story.

PHX-SOXFAN
08-22-2008, 06:25 PM
Have you read the article?

yeah, I just read it before my post. There's a difference in the repercussions of his decisions. the terrible ones for the first six years are the ones that are going to have much more impact than the more centrist policies recently. too little, too late. the damage is done. Iraq is what it is because of poor policy, the economy is in it's current state because of poor policy and poor reactionary policy

gcoll
08-23-2008, 05:24 AM
There's not really a smear gap.

This author seems to have missed the "in the pocket of big oil" ads.

Which ad alleged that Obama was responsible for higher gas prices?

SmthBluCitrus
08-23-2008, 07:42 AM
yeah, I just read it before my post. There's a difference in the repercussions of his decisions. the terrible ones for the first six years are the ones that are going to have much more impact than the more centrist policies recently. too little, too late. the damage is done. Iraq is what it is because of poor policy, the economy is in it's current state because of poor policy and poor reactionary policy

Granted his weak points outweigh the strong, and I don't think a couple years of decent decisions makes up for the previous six years of ... well, you know.

But, that's the point of the article. Some of us (ahem) get so caught up in bashing Bush for the express purpose of our Democratic agenda (big D) that we forget that he's changed his foreign policy stance recently. And, that if Obama comes in and changes that direction he'd be making a big mistake.

Obama can't come into the Oval Office and expect things to be as they were in 2004, he's going to have to go into office and run things the way they are in January 2009.

that's what the article is about. It's not saying anything close to "well, Bush has learned from his mistakes, lets give him a pass."

DenButsu
09-03-2008, 12:45 AM
More evidence of the smear gap


Obama got MoveOn.org to shut down its 527 (http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/06/moveon_to_close_its_527.php) so that it wouldn't run attack ads on his behalf.


But McCain has done nothing to condemn or even discourage the smear group "American Issues Project" from running attack ads (http://strategy08.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/shadowy-527-group-launches-ayers-attack-on-obama/) that make it seem like Obama (who was 8 years old at the time) supported Bill Ayers' attack on the capitol.

And McCain just hired the guy who orchestrated the smear push poll (Former officials of Sen. John McCain's 2000 campaign expressed shock and disbelief Monday to learn than the GOP presidential nominee had hired South Carolina political consultant Tucker Eskew. Eskew, along with Warren Tompkins and Neal Rhodes, were key members of then-Gov. George W. Bush's South Carolina team during the 2000 primaries. McCain and his team long held Bush, Tompkins, Rhodes and Eskew responsible for the various smears against McCain and his family in the Palmetto state during that contentious contest.)in South Carolina in 2000 that started the rumor that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child (and one wonders if he'll accuse Obama of the same?):


Former officials of Sen. John McCain's 2000 campaign expressed shock and disbelief Monday to learn than the GOP presidential nominee had hired South Carolina political consultant Tucker Eskew.

Eskew, along with Warren Tompkins and Neal Rhodes, were key members of then-Gov. George W. Bush's South Carolina team during the 2000 primaries. McCain and his team long held Bush, Tompkins, Rhodes and Eskew responsible for the various smears against McCain and his family in the Palmetto state during that contentious contest.


And now Roger Stone is making noise about creating a 527 to "take the wood" (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/212663.php) to Obama.

Think McCain will do or say anything to prevent that?

Don't hold your breath.

ari1013
09-03-2008, 12:27 PM
There's not really a smear gap.

This author seems to have missed the "in the pocket of big oil" ads.

Which ad alleged that Obama was responsible for higher gas prices?
The one that was on TV here for a good two weeks. It said that Obama and the Democratic leadership are leading the fight against drilling for more oil which means that you and I have to pay more at the pump.