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Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Wages of Sloppy Journalism»

By Yglesias

Earlier today, The New York Times “reported” that “Mr. Podesta has been mapping out the transition so systematically that he has already written a draft Inaugural Address for Mr. Obama, which he published this summer in a book called The Power of Progress.”

This is false.

Podesta published a book this summer, The Power of Progress, that was written with John Halpin. The book contains, as a literary conceit, a hypothetical inaugural address for a progressive president. The book was in the works for over a year, and the “inaugural address” section was submitted to the publisher in March before Obama was the nominee and when, indeed, Podesta was supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Nevertheless, CBS News reports:

Taking aim squarely at what McCain’s campaign feels is the presumptiveness of Barack Obama, McCain was referring to a report in the New York Times that says John Podesta has already drafted an inaugural address for Obama.

“There’s ten days left in this election, maybe Barack Obama will even have his first State of he Union address ready before you head to the polls,” McCain continued. “I guess I’m a little old fashioned about these things. I’d prefer to let the voters weigh in before presuming the outcome.”

The Obama campaign says the charge is “completely false,” and points out that the address McCain is referring to appears in a book Podesta wrote before Obama was the nominee.

It’s true, as CBS News is reporting, that the Obama campaign says the charge is completely false. However, it’s also true that the charge is in fact completely false. If when candidates launched false attacks, news organizations reported the falseness of the attacks in a straightforward manner, then they might not be so eager to launch them.

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