Political Reporters: Erratic in a Campaign

Even in the age of YouTube Political reporters can’t even be trusted to report a political ad accurately.

I’ve now seen on national TV news and read in places like Politico several accounts of the Obama response ad to the McCain attack strategy where the voiceover notes that McCain is “erratic in a crisis.”

Not one of these stories has noted that the ad includes an on-screen dated citation of a USA Today editorial clearly giving the source for the on-screen quotes “From McCain, an erratic response to crisis” and “Out of touch” on the economy

In fact nearly every negative phrase in the ad is sourced on screen from a media outlet in this way. The contrast with McCain’s and Palin’s undocumented attacks on Obama is strong. (There’s nothing in the New York Times article that Governor Palin mentioned about “pallin’ around” or any other form of close association.)

Several reports allege that the Obama campaign chose the word “erratic” to refer to McCain’s age –but the word choice was USA Today’s — in the headline and body of its editorial.

This isn’t partisan bias on the part of the press — it’s the usual laziness about details and cautious “objectivity” of providing examples from each campaign of some form of behavior (negative campaigning, in this case), without examining whether there is any real categorical or moral equivalence. You might call it intellectual spinelessness, or the soft bigotry of formal objectivity.