Monday, September 20, 2010

My take on NY Times article corraborated by Politico: Obama Advisers Weigh Ad Assault Against GOP & Tea Party

On Sunday, I opined that a New York Times article, which reported that the White House and DNC may soon wage an ad campaign depicting the GOP as a "dangerous" party controlled by "Tea Party extremists", had been revised and toned down due to White House pressure.

Monday, the Politico posted an article which corroborates this point.

First, here's a recap of my previous post: The New York Times on Sunday quoted a Democratic strategist - who had spoken with White House advisers - as saying that the aforementioned ad campaign [fear-mongering campaign] was necessary because "we need to get out the message that it's now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party because the people who have taken over the party are radical, and there are going to be real consequences if we put them in charge."

As I noted yesterday, The New York Times later revised the aforementioned quote.
The newly revised and edited article no longer contains the quote in its entirety. The article, in its current form, now quotes the Democratic strategist as simply saying: "We need to get out the message that it's now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party..."

Although, the word "dangerous" was still left in tact, the second half of the sentence: "because the people who have taken over the party are radical, and there are going to be real consequences if we put them in charge," has been deleted.

Looks like the New York Times' editorial staff got scared off by someone. The statement - which reflected a strategy of fear-mongering on the part of the White House - was subsequently edited, and toned down.

Here's a couple of links where the unedited version of the article can be read:

The current edited version can be read here -

Also, the title, as originally posted on the Times website, had read: "Obama advisers weigh ad assault against the GOP".

The title, in its newly edited and more milder form, now reads: "Obama Aides Weigh Bid to Tie the G.O.P. to the Tea Party"
That was gist of my previous post.

And, here's what the Politico wrote on Monday:
The White House is pushing back hard against a New York Times report that the president's political team is considering a national ad campaign that would cast the GOP as taken over by tea party extremists.

The story is “100 percent inaccurate,” a White House official told POLITICO.

Times Washington Bureau Chief Dean Baquet counters that the "piece is accurate.”

But White House complaints have had some effect. Although the Times has not posted a correction or otherwise acknowledged making changes to the piece, it dialed back its claims overnight, changing the headline and the lead sentence of the story to de-emphasize the notion that the White House is weighing an anti-GOP ad campaign.

The initial headline read, “Obama Advisers Weigh Ad Assault Against the GOP,” and the first sentence reported that “President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a national advertising campaign that would cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.”

The Times subsequently changed the headline to: “Obama Aides Weigh Bid to Tie the GOP to the Tea Party.”

And the opening sentence now says that the White House is considering a “range of ideas, including national advertisements."
[Ed. note: I too, had noticed that the opening paragraph had been altered, but I did not deem it necessary to discuss this point in my post.]

Incidentally, the Politico fails to mention that the Democratic strategist's quote had also been edited. I would also add that the New York Times' revision was not merely an attempt to "de-emphasize the notion that the White House is weighing an anti-GOP ad campaign," but also, and perhaps more importantly, an attempt to obscure the fact that the White House was embarking on a fear-mongering campaign and resorting to scare tactics.

Back to the Politico:
Richard W. Stevenson, the paper's deputy Washington bureau chief, said: "The sourcing on the story was solid. When [the White House] provided us an on-the-record statement late Sunday night disputing the story, we promptly inserted it into the piece in a prominent way. We often tweak the wording of stories and headlines between editions to reflect editing judgments and additional reporting, and that’s what happened in this case."
Sorry, Mr. Stevenson, I don't buy that for a moment. The truth of the matter is, you caved into White House pressure and toned down your report so as to obfuscate the true nature of the White House and its deceitful, fear mongering tactics... President Obama has consistently accused his critics of using scare tactics against him, when in truth, it is the President and his cronies who are the real fear-mongers. And it is precisely this point that you intentionally tried to obscure from the public.

More from the Politico:
Those changes were not enough to satisfy the White House, according to sources.

“The Times is just flat-out, 100 percent wrong,” a White House official said. “The first time Obama’s advisers heard about a national ad campaign is when the story showed up on the Times’ website last night.”
Yeah, right!

Ultimately, the editors at the 'Grey Lady' caved in to the White House: spliced the aforementioned quote, tinkered with other portions of the article, and manifested nothing more than dishonest and shoddy journalism.

As it turns out, my observations and suspicions were well-founded. And I'm feeling pretty good about that..... real good!

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