Media in the Tank

If the reputation of the “Mainstream” Media as an impartial provider of information has taken a severe beating in recent years, its behavior during this election put that idea to death and nailed closed the coffin. On ““, you can learn the impact of the media in making sure the average Obama voter knew the issues, the candidates, and the change for which they were voting.

Even the most jaded among us will be stunned by the results. Reporters decide what to report, and we fail to realize the incredible impact of their choices. We often rail about the biased coverage of Orthodox Jews in the press, but don’t recognize the potency of the poison being fed to our uninformed brethren. John McCain certainly had far greater resources to combat the media image than we do… so just take a look at what Obama viewers knew, and what they didn’t.

For example, nine out of ten Obama voters knew that Sarah Palin was the candidate for whom her party spent $150,000 on her wardrobe, and nearly 94% correctly identified her as the one with the pregnant teenage daughter. Over 80% knew it was John McCain who didn’t know how many houses he owns — and an even higher percentage “knew” that Palin said she could see Russia from her house, although she never said it.

I suppose it should not surprise us that when it came to the less important issues — such as our economic future and national security — the average Obama voter was considerably less well-informed. Barely 50% knew that it was his own running-mate who said that Obama was so woefully inexperienced that our enemies would deliberately test him with an international crisis during his first six months in office. Fewer than 50% were aware that the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress going into this election. And barely one in ten knew that Obama told a San Francisco audience that his policies would intentionally bankrupt anyone building a coal plant.

Yet strangely enough, Obama voters were similarly under-informed when it came to negative information about their own favored candidates, though the facts were arguably somewhat more germane than Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy or McCain’s wife’s real estate investments. Under 30% of them identified Joe Biden as the one forced to abandon a previous campaign when it was discovered that he had plagiarized a speech. Barely 40% knew that it was Obama himself who launched his political career in the home of two former terrorists, while under 20% knew that he had gone on to victory in his first election by getting all of his opponents disqualified.

It’s worth pondering the fact that under 25% of Obama voters knew that he once claimed to have campaigned in 57 states, although it was obviously a slip of the tongue. Could anyone deny that had the Governor of Alaska stumbled in this fashion, under 25% would not have known?

Repeatedly, we are treated to stories — especially from Israel — that seem like black-and-white indictments of our community. When a writer at Cross-Currents (or elsewhere) suggests a deeper look or questions the facts presented, the nay-sayers accuse us of “circling the wagons” and knee-jerk defensiveness. On that, they are not far off — because the media track record is so abominably poor that to question the presented “facts” is inevitably well-warranted. The misbehavior of a few charedim is projected upon the entire population, the misbehavior of others is downplayed, and — in innumerable cases — fiction is presented as fact. Anyone remember the demonstration where human feces were thrown? It never happened, as the police admitted later.

Two years ago, it was widely reported that a young charedi father had abused and killed his infant son. The Rabbis who encouraged assistance with his defense were condemned as allying themselves with child abusers over innocent children, or mocked for issuing a non-existent “psak” that the father was innocent.

I smelled a rat, and said so here on Cross-Currents. Actually, let me not claim that level of prescience — all I said was “innocent until proven guilty;” we should see what happens. And for that, I was similarly mocked for an untenable and unreasonable defense. One anonymous blogger (speaking of careers almost derailed by plagiarism) insisted that “innocent until proven guilty means we entertain the possibility someone else killed the child. His mother, perhaps, or a sitter or even a home intruder. It does not mean that we spread baseless, and ultimately damaging ideas about the credibility of the police.” Of course, I had not “spread baseless, and ultimately damaging ideas,” but merely said that the police report should not be taken as fact before the trial.

Well, it is two years later. Under cross-examination, the police spokesperson admitted that she could produce no source for most of the things she had told the media, or that the media had said in her name. The damage to the police’s reputation was self-inflicted, and questioning their account was hardly “baseless.” The father, needless to say, was cleared of all charges related to abuse. Judge Hannah Ben-Ami decided to convict him of manslaughter (not murder) because it was “reasonable to believe that there was awareness of the possible fatal outcome” of his actions — which stunned legal observers familiar with the meaning of “innocent until proven guilty.” It’s also, by her own statement, reasonable to believe that the father fell asleep and dropped his son, as he claims, and there was no awareness of anything — but then we’d have to look into police misconduct, and negligence by the Hadassah ER staff that ignored the baby until the damage was irreversible.

Everything I (and others) posted concerning the father’s case was proven correct. But to this day you will find media outlets, bloggers, even blog commenters right here on Cross-Currents, insisting that not only was the father guilty of the things the police admitted were baseless two years ago, but that any suggestion that we presume innocence was wishful thinking or simple stupidity. The Jerusalem Post, for its part, went back to claiming the father admitted the very same things that the police spokeswoman had to deny were ever claimed, and which were contradicted by the evidence — and which, had they been true, would certainly have resulted in a conviction on the child abuse counts.

Lost in all of this nonsense was the indictment of the Rabbinic leaders, and, by extension, the Orthodox community — “allying themselves with child abusers over innocent children.” Has anyone bothered to look at the child abuse statistics in the Orthodox world, vs. the rest of Israel (or the US)? There was, in fact, a recent and truly horrendous case that was true… but besides being unspeakably grotesque, it was thankfully also incredibly rare. In general, the devotion and caliber of Orthodox child-rearing is on a far higher standard — a fact entirely lost in the media circus surrounding the one tragic exception and the myths surrounding the unfortunate father.

Welcome to the world in which we live, where the media presentation is vastly more important than reality. I have often said that part of our mission at Cross-Currents is to counter-balance the unfriendly media — it is clear that this is both a crucial objective, and an improbable dream at best. If McCain couldn’t counter-balance media adulation of its new messiah, we hardly have the resources necessary to counter mockery of those waiting for the real one. But every person we reach, every person we encourage to think again, is a person more open to Torah. And that’s why it’s worth continuing to work for the truth.

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34 Responses

  1. Chaim Fisher says:

    Well, obviously, splattering 150 grand on your wardrobe when you’re claiming to be the candidate of the “real America” is about a thousand times worse, and more obviously true, than what happened once maybe in some other campaign according to what the right-wing bloggers are claiming.

    And Palin’s incompetence and ignorance were obvious to all, not just accusations of incidents fifteen years ago that maybe did not happen.

    The 62 million people who voted for Obama had seen him in action for an entire two year campaign and therefore had tons of information about him and judged him the more intelligent and better composed candidate for doing one of the hardest jobs in the world.

    To the contrary, it was the media that exposed Palin’s gross incompetence and McCain’s hopeless waffling and confusion during the financial meltdown. Thank you media.

  2. Prince Valiant says:

    Boo-hoo! This is the standard Republican bogeyman trick: Blame the media when things don’t go your way. Forget the fact that more people watch the right-wing Fox news than any other news station and Right-wingers dominate the radio talk shows. It didn’t bother anyone when they trashed Al Gore in 2000 (invented the internet? never said that.) or even John Kerry’s swiftboating in 2004.

    The bottom line is that the Media (all of them) find a caricature of candidates and they stick with it. It’s not a political thing – it’s a way of telling stories. Most rational people have a way of figuring this out and filtering it out during the decision-making process. It’s time to stop beating this dead horse.

  3. Reb Yid says:

    It’s funny, reading comments from those who are deriding Obama’s lack of “experience”.

    Our current commander in chief had precious little experience before 2000. In fact, as the tale has often been told, he was born on 3rd base and thought he hit a triple. Many of his business and political endeavors prior to 2000 were utter failures.

    If the posters were honest about “experience” as the true, vital issue…they would have raised it when the vastly “inexperienced” candidate ran against Gore and then Kerry.

    But they didn’t. ‘Nuff said.

  4. David N. Friedman says:

    Good grief. Yaakov Menken comes on to explain how the media creates a smear and then fails to retract it with the facts are known, as was the case of the father and his child–and in response, an Obama fan chimes in with response #1 to repeat the lie that Sarah Palin wasted $150,000 on a wardrobe! She owns none of those clothes and merely wore what she was instructed to wear–what scandal?

    The media did no investigation of Obama because they wanted him to win and if Obama fans think they know something about him–they simply are deluded. The allegation of Sarah Palin’s “gross incompetence” is based upon what, exactly? What has she done in her life to demonstrate incompetence? She has the highest popularity rating of any Governor in America and he life story is a clear success story? By contrast, what is the life story of Mr. Obama? How did he make it into Harvard Law School?–we do not know since he will release no records? William Ayers gave him his start with the Annenberg grant–what did he do to earn the right to waste a $100 million grant on nothing productive–only corruption? He forced competitors off the ballot to win his state Senate seat–while Mrs. Palin earned her many steps up the ladder of success. Mr. Obama was gifted a seat in the Senate of the US when a GOP Senator was forced to withdraw at the last minute regarding a sex scandal that was not a scandal. Sarah Palin had to beat an established incumbent of her own party to become Governor.

    Mr. Obama had numerous chances to define himself and send clear messages about who he was and in what direction he wanted to bring the country its “fundamental change.” Now that he has been elected, we sense he will actually offer no change, no reform of DemParty failed policies–only the re-establishment of those policies. The same policies of Carter and Clinton–only supposedly santized because it is HE who is presenting them. After all the failed diplomacy regarding Iran–Obama is promising “thoughtful diplomacy”–wow, someone should have told the Europeans and the Bush administration that they merely needed to be “thoughtful!”

    The word from a pro is meaningful because there is the benefit of a track record of success. We have elected a man who has no track record of success in anything but a Presidential campaign to be elected a President. Chaim slams McCain for signing the bailout bill–of course, Obama did the same thing.

    Seeing Obama “in action”–as Chaim has it– during a campaign is some joke. He gave the same speech a zillion times. An employee has reminded me that he knows the Obama model very well from his time in jail–it is that inspirational speaker paid by the state to jolt inmates out of their depressed attitude. It is tough for him to believe that guy could be President.

    The rest of us fear now it will be our time “in jail.”

  5. S. says:

    >The Change Messiah was wearing $1500 suits

    He has a hundred of them? He claims to be middle class?

  6. SB says:

    and an even higher percentage “knew” that Palin said she could see
    Russia from her house, although she never said it.

    She said, in her interview with Charlie Gibson, that “You can actually
    see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.” This
    was part of her attempt to convince us that living in Alaska qualified
    her to decide matters of foreign policy.

    Your complaints about the media are transparently partisan. This time
    around Palin was their victim of choice, but during the last two
    presidential campaigns the shoe was on the other foot.IBoth times Bush
    ran the media was in his corner. He was portrayed s a “regular guy.”
    They allowed him to run on character, and not on issues. Eight years
    ago, the media convinced us that Al Gore claimed to have invented the
    internet [untrue: he never said it] and four years ago they told us
    John Kerry didn’t deserve his war medals. [Also untrue: he qualified
    for them all] I don’t recall you getting quite this upset about those
    distortions that went in your favor.

  7. Yaakov Menken says:

    Chaim, the RNC bought the wardrobe as part of the campaign, spending its funds its way. The Change Messiah was wearing $1500 suits which landed him on the cover of GQ, all paid for in taxpayer money… either that, or money he made with Tony Rezko. And you were saying?

    Yes, 62 million people saw him strut the stage and speak effectively. He’s authored no major piece of legislation or even a decent policy paper, but two memoirs. Truly great preparation for the hardest job in the world. Do you really think electing the better speaker is a sign of an informed electorate? Having spent my college years with some of the top collegiate debaters in the United States, I beg to differ.

    Reb Yid, our current President was governor of Texas, a state with a trillion-dollar economy, where he won re-election with 69 percent of the vote before running for the Presidency. [His predecessor was the governor of Arkansas, with a population and economy roughly 1/10th the size.] Obama is a first-term Senator with no executive experience except for distributing the wealth of the Annenberg grants.

    SB, you may be too young to remember it, but Sarah Palin grew up in the era before another media-derided Republican, Ronald Reagan, helped put an end to the Cold War. There was a time not long ago when being within line of sight of the Soviet Union was a very serious matter, and what she intended to point out is that she’s been acutely aware of hostile powers since childhood. It wasn’t a bad point, at all. As Governors go, she has probably had more foreign interaction than any other in the nation — her state’s economy depends on pipelines through Canada. She’s no less qualified than Bill Clinton was at the time.

    You also seem to have completely forgotten that the media attempted to derail Bush’s re-election with forged memos purporting to prove that he avoided his reserve duty. As the Pew Center survey determined (see below), the voters recognized a liberal media bias by 2:1 odds, both times he ran. He won anyway, which means he beat the bias, not that it didn’t exist.

    “Prince”, the popularity of Fox News may be why the author of the study is convinced that the average McCain voter is much better informed about the details on both sides, so much so that he’s offered to pay the expenses for anyone proving otherwise. The claim by Al Gore that he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” was picked up by, hardly a right-wing journal. Yes, Republicans picked up on the exaggeration of what Gore had actually said… but as the Wired writer himself admits, the Internet had already been created long before Gore took note.

    To claim the media’s caricatures are “not a political thing” is curiously disconnected from a reality which was quite obvious to most Americans. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, voters overwhelmingly thought journalists favored Obama over McCain, by a margin of 70% to 9%. At the same point in the 2004 campaign, the media was cited as favoring Kerry by 50% to 22% over Bush, and similarly in 2000 favored Gore 47% over 23%. This was born out by a separate study which showed that McCain received negative coverage rather than positive by a ratio of more than 3:1, while Obama received positive coverage significantly more often than negative.

    Voters recognized the bias, they just didn’t seek out the alternative sources of information necessary to reach an educated opinion — as the study and video clearly proved.

  8. Moshe says:

    I have not seen a copy of the verdict of the Vallis case. Can you post a copy? I find it hard to believe that he got 8 years in jail (6 now, 2 on condition) for simply being careless and negligent. I have not seen the verdict, and I don’t see any link to the verdict, just rehashing old posts.

  9. Ori says:

    Reb Yid: If the posters were honest about “experience” as the true, vital issue…they would have raised it when the vastly “inexperienced” candidate ran against Gore and then Kerry.

    Ori: You could argue that George Bush was inexperienced in 2000, having only been the governor of Texas. But how can you argue that in 2004? He had been president for almost four years at the time of the elections. You could say he was an incompetent president(1), but not an inexperienced one.

    (1) I’d disagree, but that’s besides the point.

  10. rejewvenator says:

    It’s a bit odd to blame “the media” for voters being poorly informed. In our day, in the US, just about everyone has access to as much information as they car to acquire about politics and candidates. Isn’t it up to voters to take responsibility for educating themselves and casting their vote on that basis?

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    Let’s be realistic-There is no Chinese wall and has long sinced to be one between the editorial and news staffs of most mainstream media organs. The NY Times,for instance, covered Bush without even a thinly veiled sense of malignant contempt because of the outcome of the 2000 elections and viewed that as a license to disclose confidential information in articles on any issue remotely affecting national security. Its coverage on Bush and its obit for Reagan should be proof that it is edited and written for the chattering classes of the Northeast liberal elites. For any conservative, Democrat or Republican, to expect fair coverage from the NY Times, is IMO unrealistic at the best. OTOH, while there is much about the President elect that concerned many pro-McCain voters, the simple fact is that the Republicans ran their worst campaign since 1964.

  12. anonymous says:

    Yaakov Menken,
    Thank you for your post. I could not have said it better! I think I hear sizzling, do you?

  13. Maurice says:

    This was not a post about the merits of Obama v. McCain v. Biden v. Palin. It was about media bias and how we must not assume that what we are getting from the media is the absolute truth, not without further investigation. The Jewish community is tarred by allegations that are patently false…Israel has certainly been the target of highly biased, propaganda-filled stories purporting to be unbiased news, especially by CNN, Reuters and BBC, but they are not alone (nor is Fox entirely free of bias)…and how damaging the media can be, to individuals, to candidates, to Jews, to Israel…

    At least I thought that was the point. Media bias is a form of high-level lashon harah and rechilus, as reports deliberately or by virtue of just bad reporting, twist stories. We have to be careful to evaluate these stories and not take them as the truth, not in the stated versions, not without further confirmation. The campaign showed the power of rumor, lies and innuendo, and we need to be careful to not indulge in it ourselves.

    Blogs are not immune either, to say the least, but at least they can be a check upon the “MSM”; how often did MSM stories get basic facts wrong, facts that could be checked in a millisecond with Google! Yet, wrong facts were promulgated easily, or correct facts omitted.

    So forget the merits of the arguments about which candidate was qualified or not qualified, that was not the gist of this article. It was that media bias is apparent, strong and infects not just the stories about politics, but those about the Jewish community, and we need to be more vigilant about our blind acceptance of these stories as the “emes”.

  14. Natan Slifkin says:

    Everything I (and others) posted concerning the father’s case was proven correct.

    Am I missing something here? You claim that there is no reason not to believe that the father was entirely innocent, and that the baby had merely fallen.
    But according to The Jerusalem Post, the court found him guilty for “repeatedly biting, beating, pinching and punching his son,” but at the same time “the court found that Valis did not intend to kill his son, and that his actions stemmed from recklessness,” which is why he was only convicted of manslaughter and not murder.
    I don’t know if Valis is innocent or guilty, but I don’t see how he has been shown innocent, nor how he was “cleared of all charges related to abuse.” What am I missing?

  15. Miriam says:

    No big surprises on any of this. Most voters are very shallow and don’t think through issues at all. What gets frustrating to the rest of us is that no matter how much we try to get substance to the “masses,” it never takes.

    The modern man has been reduced to superficial understanding of most of their world – give us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world is a common refrain on a radio station in many big cities. And remember at least 25% of that 22 minutes is commercials!

  16. LOberstein says:

    Regarding media reporting. There is so much information out there that anyone who cares, knows more than they need to about any candidate. The internet is by far the worse culprit because there are no standards and one can lie and repeat lies without any penalty. A newspaper has a byline, a blog has these stupid asinine phony names that hide the author. One can write any slander and escape culpability. I do not understnd why writers on a blog like Cross-Currents feel they have to hide their identity, from whom and why?
    The media bias in Israel far exceeds that in the USA. There are anti religious papers that have nary a kind word about observant Jews and then there is the Chareidi media which is unable to write what is really going on for fear of either loshon horoh or of being beat up.

  17. Reb Yid says:

    Yes, there is “media bias” everywhere one looks. In fact, I doubt there’s a single significant story of interest where SOMEONE–whether more progressive or more conservative–won’t cite media bias of one kind or another.

    Of course, one person’s truth may be another person’s media bias.

    So let’s get to media bias, smears found in much of the Jewish media and blogosphere about this election, and in particular about Obama. Based on much of what was circulating in the Jewish community, one heard about terrorist groups “endorsing” Obama, associations with anti-Semites, and in general suggesting that Jews should be fearful of Obama.

    Now let’s enter reality.

    So far Obama has already picked a Jewish chief of staff (who sends his kids to Jewish day school, to boot), a Jew as White House political advisor, is likely to nominate a Jew from one of Chicago’s most prominent philanthropic Jewish families as Commerce Secretary, numerous others as well, including some very involved in the Jewish community….and al-Qaeda has already come out with a video cursing Obama (showing him wearing a kipah at the Kotel, and contrasting him with a “real” African-American like Malcolm X…you see, in their book, he’s a sellout!)

  18. steve brizel says:

    Reb Yid-I am less impressed by an appointee’s ethnic background than by his or her POV. One can wear a kippah and be an Arabist and reach a high level in the State Department simply because one believes that Israel should withdraw to what Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz borders”. Clinton’s Middle East team was populated by many who supported this POV and who seemingly could not have enough face time with an arch terrorist with a tremendous amount of Jewish blood on his hands. The fact that our enemies don’t like the President elect is irrelevant.

  19. David N. Friedman says:

    Reb Yid, media bias is not about some ditty that one man’s truth can be one man’s media bias. The bias is inherent in the fact that the media is occupied by leftists and fairness is thrown out the window. The bias is so entrenched it is not even seen by the participants as a bias and this is a large part of the problem.

    Regarding Israel, it is curious that you have already demonstrated your failure of seeing objectivity with your saying that what is truth to one is bias to another since this is the rallying cry of the anti-Israel crowd that says with such pride, regarding their support for the terrorists–what is a terrorist to one is a freedom fighter to another. Our community has long since adjusted to this phony line of reasoning since truth, freedom and terrorist all have defined meaning and there can be no confusion. The left loves to play up a confusion so that Israel is seen as the “bully,” the “occupier,” and more of a terror state than the poor Arabs themselves.

    I disagree somewhat with SteveB–I think it is revealing that our enemies have cheered for Mr. Obama for so long. The fact that one video knocks him does not contradict all the money and support he has received from Arab states and the Arab side. As for Jews close to Obama–we have Rahm E. and no one else. With Bush, we have Mukassey and Josh Bolten and many more so Obama would have to do a lot more to have equal standing in Jewish representation. And yet, this is only somewhat meaningful and Steve B is correct to look to broader policy and Obama has every indication of siding more with the Arabs than Bush and he has long since voiced his opposition to Likud and Netanyahu who has a 50-50 chance of running Israel’s next government.

    Fox News is considered “conservative” simply by including conservatives along with a number of moderates and liberals. Fair and balanced means a moderate outcome–all in. The major media outlets tilt heavily to the left and they will not hire any conservatives. This is a big problem and this is why Fox has done so well. People want balanced reporting and someone like Chris Wallace is a fair guy while his competition roots for one side and not the other. A media that is a bit hostile to both sides serves our democracy best.

    I recall a good cartoon that circulated some months ago when Obama made his speech in Berlin, “citizens of the world.” He is shown in front of the cheering masses, whispering to his associate: “Is the press getting this?”–Obama asks. His associate responds, “That IS the media, sir!”

    This is no way to elect a President and no way to promote freedom in a democracy.

  20. Noam says:

    Steve seems to have forgotten the great lovers of Israel that populated the Reagan White House- specifically James Baker and Edwin Meese. He may also have forgotten Baker telling the world that when Menachem Begin was ready for peace, he should call the White House and then he gave out the number.

  21. Steve Brizel says:

    Noam-Baker and Meese were indeed not friends of Israel, but President Reagan made the final decisions on all issues and was indeed a tremendous Ohev Yisrael, even if one disagreed with his trip to Germany in 1985.

  22. YM says:

    The results of the Zogby poll could be due to media bias, but they also might be due to the fact that most people who voted for Obama knew for months that they were going to vote for him. Once a person makes this kind of choice, they are more likely to remember information that supports their decision – positive information about their candidate and negative information about their opponent.

    However, I personally do believe that the Media is biased.

  23. Barry Simon says:

    1. I started skimming this blog because of my interest in Jewish issues. I held my nose during the 24/6 bashing of Obama during the two months before the election, much of it at best peripherally related to questions connected to Judaism or Israel. I had hoped that with the end of the election, there would be a return what I thought was the blog’s core focus. IMHO, the current post which has zero connection to anything Jewish doesn’t belong on Cross-Currents. Regard this as a plea to cut back on the political posts, especially ones that are purely political.

    2. Having said that, I can’t resist mentioning that those wishing a, er, fair and balanced take on Mr. Zeigler’s poll should look at that well known left wing rag, the Wall Street Journal: there is a blog entry today on this subject at the WSJ site from the “numbers guy” (google: numbers guy zeigler).

  24. Yaakov Menken says:

    As if one needed any more proof of my thesis, the media is now in a feeding frenzy once again. Why? Because Sarah Palin gave an interview after the annual pardon of a Thanksgiving turkey, apparently not bothered by the fact that… now imagine this… turkeys were being slaughtered on the turkey farm!

    These newscasters are not all vegetarians, which means that they are all elitists and hypocrites. Their attitude is “let the animals be killed for my food, but only low-class people should have to watch it.”

    In Jewish law, a person has to be educated and somewhat refined in order to be a shochet. Yes, it’s a bloody job, but hiding your eyes is not the way to deal with the unpleasant aspects of the world we live in.

    There’s something much more troubling about this than just the media bias… I’ll have to think more about it, and perhaps come up with a post.

  25. dovid says:

    LOberstein, you write on Nov. 20:

    “The internet is by far the worse culprit because there are no standards and one can lie and repeat lies without any penalty.” “
    One can write any slander and escape culpability.”

    I asked you twice to document three allegations you made in your Comment by LOberstein — November 16, 2008 @ 12:16 am (see Obama, Racism, and the Jews) which I assert were not true. You wrote that (1) you were informed in this blog “that it against the Torah to vote Democratic”, (2) that someone compared Obama to Hitler, and (3) that you were condemned when you protested this analogy. May we conclude, in the absence of your reply to my questions, that you also engage in very same practices that you find repulsive when committed by others?

  26. Ori says:

    Yaakov Menken: Because Sarah Palin gave an interview after the annual pardon of a Thanksgiving turkey, apparently not bothered by the fact that… now imagine this… turkeys were being slaughtered on the turkey farm!

    Ori: The video is available here. A more polished politician would have known to have the interview camera pointed somewhere else. It seems that when it comes to presenting a false (or at least misleading) front, Palin is a dismal failure. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.

  27. Charlie Hall says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while and came to wonder the following:

    A lot of the anti-Obama stuff really was out and out lies. Things like “He is a Muslim”, “He isn’t a citizen”, “He doesn’t have a birth certificate”, and “He is is a communist”. (I heard the latter from a very agitated and upset immigrant from the former Soviet Union in shul the morning after the election; two elderly shoah survivors had to take him aside and calm him down.) Some of the other stuff was a real stretch of the truth; for example he really isn’t a close associate of William Ayers. Is possible that the American people decided that since much of the anti-Obama criticism was demonstrably false yet continued to be promoted on Fox News and the Internet, it wasn’t worth paying attention to any of it, even the stuff that actually had substance?

    In any case, I suspect that the collapsing financial system would have doomed absolutely any Republican candidate, no matter whom the Democrats had nominated. McCain didn’t help himself by picking a VP even less experienced than Obama and looking like he didn’t have a clue as to what to do regarding the economic crisis. The media didn’t invent any of that.

  28. David N. Friedman says:

    For Charlie Hall–those accusations have quite a bit of truth and a significant cause of concern. The fact remains that America has elected a President who has not been vetted for any office since he ran for President and a willing press has allowed him to not answer many questions. Even with a friendly press, it is a sure sign of trouble that Obama has not been forthcoming, even concerning whether or not he was born in Hawaii. If the accusation is unfounded–he has had every opportunity to blow away his opponents and he simply wants us to take his word for it. Sen. McCain went out of his way to prove his citizenship, since he was born in the Panama Canal zone. Obama’s citizenship is in question given the fact that his father was a Kenyan and his grandmother claims she witneessed his birth in a hospital in Kenya. Further, the Amabassador of Kenya has repeated the line that they are now designating his birthplace as a historic site, with pride. There are tens of thousands of Americans who believe Obama is not constitutionally qualified to take the oath of office as President.

    Obama is now being sued in at least six states and all he has to do is produce an original copy of the birth certificate. His staff says the suits are “worthless” but they can be settled quickly and easily with some facts and proof the Obama campaign still refuses to bring forward. HI officials state that there is a birth certificate (it could be a certificate of live birth that could have been registered after his Mom came back to America from Kenya and needed medical attention)but it is guarded carefully and we must ask why? Speculation is rampant and I will not repeat all the rumors. He could declare the name of the doctor and the hospital where he was born in HI–Obama could put all of this to rest by answering the suits and not standing on legal technicalities.

    He has sealed his academic records and we know almost nothing of his early life. No other candidate has acted in this manner, Charlie and the media has allowed this to happen. It is a huge scandal and they are not going to ask any questions.

    I do not know what he is hiding but I know that his decision to seal his records is ample proof that he cannot command my vote for public office. I tried to convince everyone I know to refuse to vote for him for that reason ALONE. It may be unlikely that he is hiding the fact that he was born in Kenya, since such a lie would be the most explosive kind of lie in US political history but his behavior indicates that he is likely hiding something and it is something he desperately wants to be kept secret.

    Regarding your other claims, yes he is a Muslim in the eyes of Muslims since his father and step father were Muslim in the same way a person born of a Jewish mother is Jewish–even if they spend their whole life practicing Christianity. Further, Obama is quick to tell Christians he has a certain amount of doubt about his Christian beliefs.

    Regarding Ayers, it is simply a lie to say that he was only someone he knew in his neighborhood since his involvement with Wm. Ayers was extensive and personal. Again, he could have admitted the facts and instead, he lied about it and this is a cause of concern. Why not for you, Charlie?

  29. Charlie Hall says:

    David #29,

    Your post is proof of my point. You promote long-debunked nonsense.

    For example, a copy of Obama’s birth certificate has been available on the internet for months. Here is an example:

    And even if he *had* been born in Kenya, he would *still* be a natural born citizen because his mother was unquestionably a US Citizen at the time of his birth. I know this because my wife is a natural born US citizen who was born in Mexico to US Citizen parents. (I recently saw her Mexican birth certificate.)

    And how do I know that *anyone* is a US Citizen? If you show me your birth certificate, how do I know that *you* haven’t made a nice counterfeit? Should I accuse you of being ineligible to vote? Nonsense!! I have exactly as much evidence against you as you do against President-elect Obama. That people have been spreading such a rumor on the internet for months or years does not make it any more true. It is the kind of action that Goebbels mastered: Repeat a lie enough times and people will believe it. And the analogy isn’t as far off as you might think: Many of these lies originated with one man, a first class anti-Semite named Andy Martin with a long history of baseless allegations against public figures. (How bad is he? After winning a Republican State Senate nomination in Florida on a platform of eliminating “Jew Power”, the Republican party disowned him. I’m not making this up. Interestingly, though, a month ago even Martin disowned the “Obama is a Muslim” charge.)

    I could similarly address the rest of your accusations, but they have been satisfactorily addressed over and over again and there is no point in repeating them. The regurgitation of slanders like this on frum sites does no credit to Orthodox Judaism, which teaches us to avoid motzi shem ra. We are supposed to be the practitioners of the religion of truth, not baseless rumors. Such has mostly disappeared from other frum sites I read; why are they still being promoted here?

  30. David N. Friedman says:

    Charlie Hall, I have written no “debunked Nonsense” and literally tens of thousands of voters are very concerned that Mr. Obama has sealed his records, including his birth certificate under guard in HI. The record is also sealed in Kenya.

    It is both normal, logical and principled to refuse to vote for someone who has taken the unique action in American political history to hide his past from voters. I am proud of the fact that I worked hard to discourage every one I knew from voting for someone with the gall to be unvetted in the political process.

    Mr. Obama will not present an original birth certificate to any court or judge, even though he is now being sued in at least six states. The copy on the pro-Obama website you present is a 2007 facsimile and not an original. What is the problem with ending the drama and simply complying with the question? People are concerned since this could easily be his governing model and if he can get away with keeping so much of his past secret–why might he be forthcoming when future controversies are on the line?

    Now that he has been elected, it would be so easy to finally answer his critics and release his birth certificate and explain why he did not want it circulated. I surely hope he was born in HI and we can move on but he wants to fight the lawsuits instead of complying and the drama continues.

    It is no accusation to observe that Obama has failed to provide anyone with an original document and it is no allegation that he is being sued. To observe that the media is not interested is also very true and on the record. It seems to me that his supporters should also want all the academic records and the birth certificate and the medical records to be released before he takes office so that there will not be some scandal in the middle of his Presidency.

    Please tell me what I have said that is wrong or objectionable.

  31. Charlie Hall says:

    I would not normally respond to David #31 because there is nothing he posts there that hasn’t already been refuted, except for his inaccurate portrayal of as a pro-Obama site. Here is the information about that site:


    Our Mission

    We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

    The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.

    The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.

    If you actually look at that site you will see that it criticized both McCain and Obama for distortions and outright falsehoods. It might also be worth noting that Walter Annenberg was known during his lifetime to be an associate of Presidents Nixon and Reagan.

    I would consider the portrayal of as “pro-Obama” to be wrong, and objectionable precisely because it is wrong.

  32. David N. Friedman says:

    Charlie, if a birth certificate has been presented, why do the Obama lawyers have the file sealed in both HI and Kenya? Fact check has presented nothing to satisfy the inquiry and a 2007 copy only presents many more questions. At no time when challenged by Berg or in other suits–did the Obama team maintain that the 2007 birth certificate offered up was a legal defense of the suit–although they did claim that the suit was “garbage” and now they face a whole host of lawsuits. The way to defeat the suit is to present evidence that Mr. Obama was born in HI and not to show legal muscle to dismiss the suits. Their legal defense was that Berg did not have standing to sue to obtain the original. The standing argument has been repeated and held up in another jurisdiction. Other suits try to get around the legalities of standing, one put forward by the United States Justice Foundation includes Alan Keyes as plaintiff. The Obama team would rather spend big money against the USJF lawsuit than simply answer the query and this only makes more people every day suspicious.

    Again, I assume he was born in HI but I am puzzled why he will not provide the evidence and he insists on sealing records and hiding his past. I have now challenged you, Charlie three times about how you can support someone who behaves in this manner and all you want to do is defend the pro-Obama “fact check group” as somehow independent instead of looking at the question. Fact has NEVER written about the question of HI law and the different types of birth certificates they produce and have produced. For Obama to be qualified, he needs to have a birth certificate and not simply a cerificate of live birth since such a certificate could have been available to Obama’s mother after he was born in Kenya, *if* he was born in Kenya. Media bias is often best revealed not by what is said but by what is not being said and factcheck’s unwillingness to look at the question in depth reveals its bias. To be sure, Obama has been slammed hard by this controversy and all this supposedly independent group can do is offer the very same evidence Obama has put forward, when his opponents question his standing with full knowledge of the 2007 document. We need a 1961 document, Charlie.

    My posting was too long and did not post. Here it is split in half…..

  33. David N. Friedman says:

    Charlie, Is there a problem with a Presidential candidate sealing his birth certificate and his complete academic records or not? Please stop changing the subject. How many times must this man be sued, at great expense and effort, so as to prove that he is Constitutionally qualified to serve? If he is in favor of transparency in government–what kind of example is this creating? and it is easy to imagine that the liberal MSM would have a field day if some Republican candidate (all the more a Presidential candidate)made the decision to seal his full academic records from public view and guarded his birth records with armed guards. The outrage would be unbearable and I believe quite justified.

    By contrast, not a whimper about Obama by the media which has put this man in power with an avalanche of one-sided positive coverage. He could have easily been buried by an avalanche of negative coverage by an honest press.

    Further, Obama gets glowing media reviews about his book “Dreams from my Father” and when one brave journalist ,Jack Cashill,reveals that the book was either ghost-written or heavily influenced by terrorist Wm. Ayers–no one pays any attention whatsoever and Obama claims he barely even knew Ayers–and he is not being candid. It hardly matters that Ayers was such a big part of his early political life in Chicago and ghost-wrote his book–all that matters is that he was challenged about Ayers and he denied any significant relationship and the facts demonstrate that he is not being truthful.

    Obama’s decision to seal his past cost him votes. Now that he has won, his supporters need to be the ones to get these sealed records out to the public so he can be as successful of a President as possible. The stakes are high–if it is determined after he takes the oath of office that he is not qualified to serve–all that he accomplished would have to be reversed and that would be a mess.

    It is so easy just to tell the armed guards to go away and that it is OK to show the public what is on the document held by officials in HI. If all is in order, the question remains why he worked so hard to keep it a big secret. I surely assume there are no impeachable offenses in his actions. My big complaint is that he has acted as if there are dire reasons for not bringing his past to light and the media has not been there to press him.

  1. November 20, 2008

    […] of prescience, I must admit that when I wrote my recent post on media bias, I had no idea that the father accused of abusing and killing his infant son was sentenced on the […]

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