Friday, April 24, 2009

4/7/08: A "report" that McCain called wife a vulgar term turns out to be nothing more than a vicious rumor --- at best

Also see:
The political evolution and "legitimization" of HuffPost

And as you read this article, keep in mind Ms. Huffington's admission, several weeks after the 2008 election, that Barack Obama is one of only three people she text messages (Addendum 5)

Fresh on the heels of this false HuffPost headline and key copy about McCain, just one day earlier...

On April 7, 2008, HuffPost's top news thread, splashed on the front page, was entitled:
McCain: Democrats' Stance on Iraq Flawed

Directly atop that legitimate news story about Sen. McCain's comments on military issues (sourced from AP), as shown in the screen capture below,
HuffPost featured the following teaser headline:
Report: McCain's Temper Flare-Up; Called Wife A C*nt

First, we don't know of any "legitimate" news organization that would use such underhanded means of undermining a presidential nominee, than to sandwich a legitimate news story with such a vulgar --- and as shown below, unproven --- allegation. And we defy any credible journalism professor to claim that this is an appropriate means of enlightening the American people as to the vital facts that are necessary for them to make an informed decision on who should be our next president.

Second, let's obtain a legitimate definition of the word "report." We contend that when most (thinking) people hear the word "report," they associate it with some official account by a credible source or organization: the 9/11 Commission Report; a report card; an FBI report on the proliferation of online stalking. According to
Merriam-Webster, the word "report" means:
(1)(a) common talk or an account spread by common talk; rumor (b) quality of reputation (2)(a) a usually detailed account or statement (b) an account or statement of a judicial opinion or decision (c) a usually formal record of the proceedings of a meeting or session.

We're going with (2)(a). The reader may be tempted to go with (1)(a), but remember ---
HuffPost bills itself as "The Internet Newspaper," plays the news straight, and is supposedly divided clearly into "news" and "opinion" sections (more here). Further, according to Ms. Huffington herself:
"I actually believe that the news is not right-wing news or left-wing news, it's the news. And that will be the sensibility, that will basically permeate our news coverage." [...] Huffington told me [the] news headlines would run on the right side of the home page while the group blog would be on the left side. (5/3/05)

"A lot of the discontent with traditional journalism is because too many reporters have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth, consequences be damned." (7/29/08)

We already know what "truth" and "news" mean, so let's proceed to see how much of either is actually contained in the teaser headline that was placed above the story about McCain's opinion on military issues.

When one clicked on that teaser, they were brought to a page at something called "Raw Story," the salient parts of which read as follows (emphasis added):
The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter, which will arrive in bookstores next month, reports an angry exchange between McCain and his wife that happened in full view of aides and reporters during a 1992 campaign stop. An advance copy of the book was obtained by RAW STORY.
John McCain's temper is well documented. He's called opponents and colleagues "shitheads," "assholes" and in at least one case "a fucking jerk."...

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

So at the end of the day, what we have here are three unknown "reporters," whose identity (and even existence) cannot be confirmed, who (allegedly) told an extremely inflammatory story about an (alleged) event that may or may not have happened, involving one of the two major nominees for the presidency of the United States.

And yet, HuffPost decided to label this a "report" --- and place it not in its blogs (which it easily could have done, as Cliff Schecter is one of its official bloggers), but directly atop a serious, legitimate account of what McCain actually said, in regards to a matter of vital national interest.

About now, you may ask, "Well, what exactly is 'RawStory'?" Good question. Here is what they say about themselves. (You will have to judge for yourself whether RawStory is a legitimate "news" source for anything.)

Thus, what we had here was not a "report."

It was (and is) a rumor --- an extraordinarily incendiary, vicious, vulgar rumor --- that was being deliberately spread in the second-most-prominent space* on "The Internet Newspaper," without a shred of proof with which to substantiate its legitimacy.
*Second only to its splash headline on its front page --- but which, on this day, was the legitimate McCain story, as indicated on the screen capture, above.]

We wonder how Ms. Huffington, when she was running for governor of California, would have felt about a "report," prominently featured in the #1 political blogsite, which is supported by the biggest advertisers, that claimed something equally horrific about her... say, that she called a black laborer at her Brentwood mansion a "n*gger"? That during a drug-addled orgy, gave one of her lovers a venereal disease? Would she find it acceptable "journalistic" practice to classify such a rumor, based on anonymous sources, who cannot produce one verifiable fact to back up their assertions, as a "report" on her?
What it if such vicious rumors (oops, "reports") were directed at one or both of her daughters --- say, that they had called a Muslim waiter "a filthy terrorist raghead," a term they then claimed they'd learned from their mother?

Judging from the acts (and as shown below, omissions) of the political blogsite that bears her name, Ms. Huffington apparently would have no problem with any of the above, and would consider it "fair play."

We don't --- and we contend that neither would any liberty-loving American with even an iota of honor, integrity, or an understanding and acceptance of what the words "report," "journalist" and "honesty" actually mean.


ADDENDUM 1: April 8, 2008 --- McCain vehemently denies Schecter's allegations; HuffPost doubles-down, provides Schecter with a venue to respond, in which he diverted and obfuscated instead of validating his claims, or apologizing

On April 8, 2008, the New York Daily News ran a story entitled: Bio: John McCain Swore Oath - At His Wife. Excerpt (emphasis added):
Sen. John McCain's defenders are blasting a new biography that claims the White House hopeful once hurled the most vile of epithets at his wife, Cindy.

Democratic strategist Cliff Schecter claims in "The Real McCain" that the presumptive GOP nominee uttered the shocking slur in front of aides and reporters while campaigning for the senate in 1992. [...]

McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker brands the book "trash journalism" and tells us, "The story is completely fabricated."

So what did HuffPost do, in reaction to this revelation?
Did it post a retraction, or a clarification --- or, an apology? No.

Instead, it allowed Schecter to publish a reply in his HuffPost blog space, in which he didn't apologize either. Rather, he (and by default, HuffPost) doubled-down on his (and HuffPost's) smearing of McCain, here, with diversions and obfuscations.


ADDENDUM 2: April 9, 2008 --- McCain vehemently denied allegations "reported" in Schecter's book, and on HuffPost... but HuffPost failed to put up any "report" of this fact (let alone promote it with equal prominence)

this article from U.S. News & World Report. Excerpt (emphasis added):
The McCain campaign has furiously denied the reports, calling them "fabrications" and "trash." McCain, asked during an appearance today on Fox News whether the alleged Renzi incident was true, replied, "No." Campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker told U.S. News that both stories are "untrue and driven by partisan interests and blind sources."

Interestingly, one of HuffPost's "editors," Nico Pitney, was also quoted in this article (emphasis added):
"[W]e noted in our report on the book that the story was anonymously sourced; we wanted our readers to be aware of that... [A]s with any such reporting—whether it's in the New York Times, a Bob Woodward book, or an account from Cliff Schecter—people have to consider the information critically and make up their own minds."

Now, take a look at that screen capture from April 7, 2008 atop the HuffPost again --- and ask yourself if what Pitney alleges is true:


ADDENDUM 3: May 2, 2008 --- A blogsite dissects Cliff Scheckter, and reveals his sordid history of propaganda and conspiracy theories

From Classical Values blog:
Schecter, the accuser (a guy who snarks that Republicans can't read) sloppily recites conspiracy theories based on things on the radio he is unable to recall:
If I remember correctly, the host went on to say that -- especially based on recent reports of news outlet complicity in the military analyst scandal -- they are feeling a potential threat should Obama get elected. If he goes after BushCo, the media would be implicated, too.

To avoid that possibility, they have to eliminate Obama.

The media want to "eliminate" Obama because he might "go after" Bush if elected (criminal prosecutions for war crimes) and this might spill over to a media scandal?


In a post titled "Group that wants Bush to be "President-for-Life" linked to Bush Administration itself," Schecter promoted the paranoid conspiracy claim that a right wing clique linked to Dick Cheney (who else?) wanted Bush to kill all Arabs in Iraq, populate it with Americans, so that the military would love Bush, who would then become president -- forever and ever! Here's a partial quote in italics (with Schecter's reactions in plain text):

That valuable historic example? Julius Caesar.

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results...

Eyebrows raised yet?

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

Mine are. Raised, that is.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming "ex-president" Bush or he can become "President-for-Life" Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

Putting the rather strange Caesar analogies aside, the author of the above (soon pulled from the FSM site) was not only an embarrassment to FSM, but he's clearly a crackpot.


ADDENDUM 4: HuffPost calls Cindy McCain a "dick"

Apparently, this is supposed to be "humor." But unlike HuffPost's "report" that falsely accused Sen. McCain of calling his wife Cindy a c*nt, what you're about to see is a provable fact.

Sometime in the spring/summer of 2008, mixed in with its "news" blurbs on its main page, HuffPost placed a picture of Cindy McCain, with the headline, "Cindy McCain Is A Dick."

The link led to this page:

Opening copy (emphasis added):
Cindy Lou Hensley McCain (born Cindy Lou Hensley on May 20, 1954) is the wife of U.S. Senator, ill-fated presidential candidate, elderly curmudgeon, and dick John McCain. She, herself, is a multi-millionaire, pill-popper—a combination sometimes referred to as a “pillionaire”—and an excellent example of why people should stop after one facelift, two max. She is also a dick.

As a potential though seriously long shot First Lady, anything and everything about Cindy McCain was seized upon and exaggerated by the media. Like her hideously plastic appearance. And the period of her life she spent zonked out on Percocet. And that she obviously has a fetish for old balls.

And who/what is the source of this "humor", and/or "Dickipedia"?

Why, none other than HuffPost itself --- the first and only blog to be enabled to field a question at a presidential news conference, which is supported by the biggest advertisers in the world, and which counts among its bloggers top members of the U.S. Congress
(1, 2, 3, 4, 5):

At a time like this, it's worth revisiting what Ms. Huffington herself said about this type of speech (not to mention when it is directed at the wife of a nominee for President of the United States):

"(O)ur desire (is to) not to have the Huffington Post become a forum for... potentially libelous charges." (10/29/07)

"If you're looking for the usual flame-throwing, name-calling, and simplistic attack dog rhetoric ... don't bother coming to the Huffington Post." (5/6/05)

"We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abusive or hateful language or comments." (3/20/08)

Oh, if only that were all true, what a different site HuffPost would be.


ADDENDUM 5: After the election, Ms. Huffington admitted how close she is with Barack Obama

It was only after the election, on November 21, 2008, that Arianna Huffington publicly acknowledged for the first time how close she is with Obama:
“I only text (message) three people - my two teenage children and Barack Obama.”

Might this fact, along with other accusations that HuffPost was acting as "a 'conveyor belt' for pro-Obama propaganda," help to explain its willingness to publish articles such as these throughout the campaign, to undermine Obama's opponents --- particularly Sen. McCain? More examples:
3/16/07: False headline re McCain quote on contraceptives incites torrent of hate comments

4/6/08: False headline, copy claim McCain wrong on Iran - al Qaeda connection; foments misconception-based hate comments (HuffPost: "Approved!!!")

Perhaps one day soeone in a position of influence will ask HuffPost to answer this question.


No comments:

Post a Comment