Tim Russert Peddles Fraudulent "Fairy Tale" Claim to Help Sen. Obama's Campaign
Tim Russert was at his fraudulent
worst best yesterday. Not only did he distort Sen. Clinton's MLK quote - like other news organizations did - to portray a misleading picture of what she actually said, he also showed what was virtually just the final sentence of a long statement by President Bill Clinton, a sentence chosen in order to deliberately portray President Clinton negatively - as if Clinton had been referring to Sen. Obama or his campaign as being a "fairy tale" - and then showed critical comments by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Donna Brazile in response to the "fairy tale" comment. In other words, in keeping with his standards of journalistic malpractice, Russert intentionally truncated ~90% of Bill Clinton's actual remarks to dramatically distort and mislead the public on what President Clinton actually said. (You can see why - the Obama campaign and Michelle Obama have also intentionally and deceptively created their own fairy tale about what Bill Clinton actually said).
It is wrong that Sen. Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgement and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, well how could you say, that, when you said in 2004, you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution, you said in 2004 that there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war, and you took that speech you are now running on, off your website, in 2004, and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since. Give me a break [audience applauds]. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen...
I've previously pointed out some of these very aspects of Sen. Obama's record - the website scrubbing (in 2003, not 2004), his acknowledgement of common ground with Bush on the war, his repeated statements that he was not sure how he would have voted on the 2002 Iraq resolution if he had been in the U.S. Senate (as opposed to being in the IL Senate, where he was not privy to the intelligence reports), his voting in favor of funding the Iraq war repeatedly once in the Senate, his vocal speech in the Senate opposing Sen. John Kerry's resolution to force a timetable-based withdrawal from Iraq, and his voting virtually identically with Sen. Clinton on Iraq (these are undoubtedly some of the many reasons why Sen. Edwards, whose Senate record on Iraq is worse than Sen. Clinton's, has been touting Sen. Obama as one of the Greatest Agents of ChangeTM - that should tell you a thing or two about Sen. Edwards' own principles and portrayals of himself as a Change AgentTM). These are some of the facts that the Clinton campaign has now posted on their "Fact Hub" website - and Sen. Clinton highlighted some of these very facts in her response to Russert's fraudulent style of questioning (NOTE: see Big Tent Democrat talking about the Clinton Double Standard on this issue in some parts of the blogosphere).
Needless to say, it was utterly predictable and embarrassing to see Russert regurgitating false, Obama-friendly talking points without doing the job of an honest journalist - i.e., exposing the falsehoods and distortions of the Obama campaign for what they are. What did surprise me though is the response of people like Rep. Jim Clyburn and Donna Brazile - who should have known better than to make the kinds of comments they did without checking the facts for themselves. Donna Brazile in particular should be deeply embarrassed and stop being an "expert" commentator in the media if this is how she plans to behave in this election - uncritically buying false media narratives. Why? She of all people knows that Al Gore was repeatedly savaged over remarks he never made, over deliberate distortions of his statements. If she has learnt nothing from that experience, she has no business being in the limelight as an "experienced" commentator on politics. At the minimum, she owes the Clintons a very strong apology.
This is the latest episode in a series of false insinuations from the Obama campaign that the Clintons are racist. This is the kind of campaign that will lose Sen. Obama the general election if he becomes the nominee because there are a lot of Americans who are not in the least bit racist who will start believing that Sen. Obama is a divisive figure, a person who will repeatedly and falsely paint opponents or critics as being racists in order to win the election. If Sen. Obama has legitimate grievances - like the stupid comments of Bill Shaheen which Sen. Clinton never condoned and forced Shaheen to resign over - those are justifiable to air. However, stupid remarks by Clinton supporters or surrogates are not the views of the Clintons. If we use that same standard with Sen. Obama, we would be forced to infer that Sen. Obama is a vehement bigot, somewhat racist and someone who likes to repeatedly and falsely smear other people as being racists - none of which I believe is true in reality. The bottom line is that it is not acceptable to falsely accuse patriotic Americans who have fought very hard for minorities and African-Americans through their lives, of being racists. Moreover, when prominent people make false charges of racism, they severely undermine the civil rights movement and those who are fighting to reverse racism in American society.
There is no doubt that racism is a major problem in America. One of the best books on this subject is the extraordinarily compelling and scholarly book "White-Washing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society" by Michael K. Brown, Martin Carnoy, Elliott Currie, Troy Duster, David B. Oppenheimer, Marjorie M. Shultz, and David Wellman. I highly recommend that anyone who wants to understand racism in America should read this book.
P.S. Eric Kleefeld over at TPM Election Central portrays Bill Clinton's subsequent remarks on this utterly fake "fairy tale" controversy as a clarification of what Clinton originally said. President Clinton did not need to give any explanations. The whole media campaign against his remarks - stoked by the Obama campaign - was a fraud. Sen. Obama's claim to have been always and staunchly against the Iraq war is a fiction - a fairy tale - given his actual record. Kleefeld could have simply included a video clip or transcript of Clinton's statement which would have removed any doubts that this attack on the Clintons was, at its core, a deeply fraudulent attack. I'm not sure why he didn't. (NOTE: I just noticed, Media Matters has more on Russert's truncation of the Clintons' quotes).
A final comment. The latest controversy is over Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson's remarks defending the Clintons and criticizing Sen. Obama. Read Big Tent Democrat and Taylor Marsh for more on this.