Americans believe in fair play. That’s why we’re outraged when a ballplayer cheats. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa went from American heroes to pariahs overnight when we discovered that they were juicing. That may be why voters switched from Kerry to Bush when we learned that The New York Times had used a forged document on the eve of the 2004 election to “prove” that President Bush had pulled family stings to escape being drafted for Vietnam.
Unfair play may account for some of Sarah Palin’s popularity, as we see her being treated shabbily by the media. And now the media seem set on building up sympathy for Michele Bachmann by distortions of her words.
Ironically, the disdain many rightfully feel toward Bachmann leads them to heap undeserved scorn on her, on top of the scorn her candidacy deserves. And this is helping her, not only with her right-wing base but also with moderate people who believe she’s being treated unfairly.
So some of the media are reporting that Bachmann blamed hurricane Irene on the big-government Democrats in—ugh—WASHINGTON, D.C. Here’s how it went at a widely covered campaign stop in Florida.
“WASHINGTON, D.C., you’d think by now they’d get the message. [Ticking off with her fingers] an earthquake! [nodding and turning toward another part of the crowd]…a hurricane [smiling as she’s bathed in crowd laughter—any speaker’s dream]…[Now she stops and grins, looks heavenward and waves her arms to more laughter] ARE YOU LISTENING? The American people have done everything they possibly can. Now it’s time for an act of God and they’re getting it.”
Some of the media reported that she was joking—The Chicago Sun-Times, CNN, and NBC-TV 4 in D.C. played fair But MSNBC’s Martin Bashir reported it as a serious position of Bachmann’s, as did ABC, The Nation, The New York Times The St. Petersburg Times, and Time. The New York Times and CBS websites posted only excerpts of a later speech, where the joke wasn’t done so well, and the viewer couldn’t be absolutely sure she was joking.
Not only is this distortion unethical, it’s positively counterproductive. It’s even got Ethics Bob defending Bachmann, and he hates hates hates to do that.
Tags: 2004 election, ABC, big government, CBS, CNN, D.C., ethics, fair play, forgery, hurricane Irene, Mark McGuire, Martin Bashir, media, Michele Bachmann, MSNBC, NBC-TV 4, President Bush, Sammy Sosa, Sarah Palin, St. Petersburg Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Nation, The New York Times., Time, Vietnam draft, Washington