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5 November 2008

America’s irresponsible media

A Republican bewails the lack of scrutiny applied to Barack Obama during the election campaign and a

By Evan Lips

How I would have loved to have had my ear against the door outside of the Boston Globe’s conference room on the morning of October 30th.

“A British paper discovered that Barack Obama’s aunt is living in squalor in a slum in South Boston.”

“A British paper!?!?”

The Boston Globe, headquartered in South Boston, had the story in its back yard. Yet it was the Times Online that first broke the news that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s aunt is living illegally in the US despite being served a deportation order several years ago.

She has collected welfare while managing to contribute – illegally – $260 to her nephew’s campaign.

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This issue might seem trite, given the millions that both candidates have amassed during months of campaigning. But it begs a bigger question – where are the priorities for the American media?

Reporting centered on emotion and not based on researching the facts is alarming. But it is nothing new to this presidential election. There have been several instances where the media – confronted with relevant news regarding Barack Obama – has decided simply to remain silent.

It’s appalling to think that the press, an institution defended in the United States Constitution (The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom…of the press.”) has squelched its own freedoms in order to help their candidate win – Barack Obama.

It’s no secret that the America mainstream media has a decidedly liberal bent to it. And this election may serve as “exhibit A.”

Consider several startling instances:

The Los Angeles Times is in possession of a 2003 tape where Senator Obama paid tribute with Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi at a private event. The Times is refusing to allow the pubic to review the tape claiming that they promised anonymity to the source that provided them with the tape. Khalidi served as a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1970s.
Barack Obama had three reporters from newspapers that had endorsed John McCain removed from the campaign jet. Obama has built a campaign around inclusiveness and bringing people together. Where was the outrage from the rest of the media? Is this what we can expect if he wins?
Statements made by Obama appear to have had expiration dates on them, meaning that as soon as he contradicts himself, the media covers its mouth. On March 18, 2008, Obama said, “I could no more disown Jeremiah Wright than I could disown my own grandmother.” As soon as Reverend Wright became an issue, Obama cut off all ties to Wright. Yet contradictions such as this have largely been ignored.

In late October, the non-partisan Pew Center for Media Research reported significant bias in the way major news media has covered the campaign.

Pew reviewed hundreds of TV and print news reports about the candidates. The results were disturbing.

Fifty-seven percent of all stories about McCain were negative, compared to 29 percent of stories about Obama; just 14 percent of McCain stories were clearly positive, compared to 36 percent of Obama stories. Twenty-nine percent of McCain stories were neutral, compared to 35 percent of Obama stories.

And maybe the incident here in Boston can serve as an example of America’s decline in objective reporting.

What advantages did the Times Online have over American media giants such as the Boston Globe and the New York Times? The answer appears to be simple – common sense and attentive research.

The key to the story lies in a book that has been read by millions, especially those involved with the Obama campaign. Dreams From My Father, an autobiography, is a story of how the presidential hopeful traced his Kenyan roots and focused his life’s mission.

The American media seems to have ignored the passage indicating that at least one relative of Senator Obama’s had left Kenya and immigrated to America.

At one point in the book, Senator Obama’s half-sister speaks about Africans who had emigrated to the West and presumably disappeared:

“Like our Uncle Omar, in Boston . . . They’ve been lost, you see.”

Lost, kind of like the mainstream media here in the United States. It may have been beneficial to American voters if more British news groups had covered our election.

It disturbs me to think about what other things they would have uncovered.

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