Fox News fabricates a part of Obama’s speech
This is a guest post by Michael Thaddeus.
When President Obama spoke at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, on Wednesday, he said, “Somebody gave me an education. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn’t. But somebody gave us a chance.” [Minute 9:24 on video.] He has made similar remarks numerous times, including as early as 2009.
But when smirking reporter Steve Doocy quoted the President to Mitt Romney on Fox News, he added three words: “Unlike some people, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.” [Minute 3:39 on video.]
Those three words, “unlike some people,” were a complete fabrication. President Obama never said them or anything like them. The extra words make the President sound snide, as if he were mocking Romney.
Where did these extra words come from? Steve Doocy seemingly made them up out of whole cloth. Are reporters really supposed to do that?
What happened next? Philip Rucker at the Washington Post “reported” the story on Thursday, but he made no effort to check the fabricated quote against the primary sources, easily available online. Instead, he put Fox’s words directly into the mouth of President Obama. Are reporters really supposed to do that? I e-mailed him and the Post editors to request a correction, but he hasn’t answered, and guess what, the false quote is still there.
Update: the Washington Post has made a correction.
Then what happened? The New York Post devoted one of its two Friday editorials to slamming Obama for taunting Romney. They called him “cynical,” “misguided,” and “snotty.” Well, of course he sounded snotty! That’s because the Post used the snotty quote concocted by their colleagues at Fox News! Are newspapers really supposed to do that?
When I pointed this out to the editorial staff at the Post on Friday, they replied, “we’d be happy to consider running a letter to the editor on this subject, if you’d care to write one.” Great! But what’s the catch? “I couldn’t guarantee that we could run it.” What odds do you give me? Meanwhile, even though a prominent editorial in the Post is devoted to denouncing the President for saying something that he didn’t really say, there seem to be no plans for a correction or retraction.
So there you have it. One branch of the Murdoch empire concocts a snotty quote, supposedly from Barack Hussein Obama. Another branch vilifies him for supposedly saying the snotty thing that they themselves concocted. Meanwhile, the fabricated quote continues to reverberate in the echo chamber of the right-wing blogosphere. And thanks to the Washington Post, it will soon be as good as true.
Let’s grant that these three little words are a petty mendacity by the Iraq War standards to which we’ve become accustomed. And let’s grant that Obama’s speechwriters are shrewd and were hardly unaware of the contrast with Romney when they wrote the “silver spoon” line. Still, what makes Murdoch newspapers and TV stations think they can fabricate quotes, enclose them in quotation marks, attribute them to the President of the United States, and get away with it? It’s pretty shocking when you think about it.