( – promoted by Clark)

A couple of examples of right-wing frames (or sloppy journalism, if you’re feeling more charitable) on the Post-Dispatch’s blogs.  First, Media Matters for America thoroughly dissected how badly the mainstream media has distorted General Wesley Clark’s comments on McCain.  The basic idea is this: all of the major network newscasts suggested that Clark “questioned McCain’s service record” and then go on to play a quote of Clark saying, “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”  The problem, of course, is that Clark specifically praised McCain’s service record and his statement was actually a response to something that his interviewer said.  Here’s an extended part of the exchange:

SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean —

CLARK: Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

In other words, Schieffer suggested that being shot down was somehow relevant to being qualified, and Clark disagreed with him.  Big honkin deal.

Unfortunately, the Post-Dispatch is not immune to this kind of nonsense.  Bill Lambrecht recently posted an item on this (update: I’m having trouble getting the link to work, so you can go here and scroll down to find the article if the original link doesn’t work) that followed the usual pattern.  Lambrecht made it sound as if Clark pulled the quote out of the blue and made no mention of the context.  Though he notes that Clark said he wasn’t criticizing McCain’s service record, the title of the post, “Wes Clark: I’d never diss McCain’s service, but…’ clearly expresses skepticism about Clark’s claim.  I don’t have that much more to add, since Media Matters’ takedown of the networks pretty clearly applies to Lambrecht’s post as well.  But I really hope that public scrutiny can pressure the media to stop using out-of-context comments to manufacture drama.  

Next item below the flip:

Now we have Bill Kristol’s Representative in St. Louis Alex Mayer expressing his concern over Obama’s decision to not take public financing.  You may remember Mayer from his earlier claim that the reason media coverage in Iraq has declined is because everything is going so well there and the media doesn’t like happy stories (and his completely ignoring the fact that there are scores of grisly murders, massive bombings, and infrastructure breakdowns happening nearly every day in Iraq).  So Mayer unsurprisingly claims that the public financing decision proves Obama is not really an agent of political reform, and that he’s not really “grassroots-driven,’ etc. etc. etc.  Here was my response to Mayer in the comments:

The reason Obama suggested (with a disclaimer) that he would take public financing is because he wanted to reduce the influence of big money on politics. Given that he is now funded by small donors at an unprecedented level, he is now more accountable to a larger number of people than any politician in recent memory. Therefore, he has remained completely true to the principle he was fighting for, the principle of making politicians accountable to the people rather than corporate interests, even if he isn’t following his initial plan on how to work for that principle.

What is especially funny about all of these “concerned” articles in the media is that they completely ignore, with no sense of irony, John McCain’s violation of public finance laws. McCain opted into public financing for the primaries, used this to secure a loan, and then illegally opted out back out after his fundraising numbers started getting better. The head of the FEC told the McCain campaign that he couldn’t do this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/… (or see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/… for the timeline). Yet the violation of public financing law by the media-anointed “straight-talk express” is apparently a non-story to Alex and most other pundits.

Now I’m not particularly surprised that Alex would go with these Republican talking points, but it is a bit sad to see that the media in general is so willing to engage in complete hypocrisy in criticizing the candidates. The best thing that could be said (which still isn’t very good) is that they are noticing Obama’s lead in all of the polls and would like the campaign to be closer as it would be better for business.

I’m sure there will be a lot more discussion as Mayer doesn’t back down on his posts, and I encourage anyone more familiar with the wonky details of campaign finance reform to jump into the fray in the comments.  This kind of msm concern trolling should not go unchallenged.