UPDATED 6:28 PM CST: Before I go into my diary, I'd like to point you to the new website Barack Obama has started that chronicles all the smears, lies, distortions and false campaigning John McCain has decided to resort to in a desperate attempt to avoid discussing the issues. Its appropriately titled "The Low Road Express."
OK, here's some straight talk: Jake Tapper is full of shit and he knows it.
You may be wondering why I would choose such harsh terms to describe this well known contributor to the political discussion. Well, its easy. Jake Tapper slyly plays the race card last night by - wait for it - claiming Barack Obama injected race and Xenophobia into the campaign himself!
The first inkling of this developing smear was when I perused the story at TPM. (I took the pains to include the date stamp so you can see exactly how this new controversely developed.)
07.31.08 -- 12:42AM // link | recommend (72)
Jake, Jake, Jake
Jake Tapper says Obama's is being 'inflammatory' for hinting that McCain is doing what he's doing.
Late Update: Jake responds.
Now, being the insatiable web surfing fool that I am I couldn't resist following the Link TPM provided to find out what caused dear Jake to accuse the Barackster of such "inflammatory" speech. Upon arriving at the ABCNews blog, I could barely believe my eyes. In a positively bizarre article penned on July 30, 2008 at 10:45 PM titled - I kid you not - "Did Obama Accuse McCain of Running a Racist, Xenophobic Campaign?" Tapper writes:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but does it not seem as if Obama just said McCain and his campaign -- presumably the "they" in this construct -- are saying that Obama shouldn't be elected because he's a risk because he's black and has a foreign-sounding name?
Ladies and gentlemen, OBAMA SAID NOTHING OF THE SORT.
Here's the passage that the Tap man drew that conclusion from quoted in its entirety:
Obama said that "John McCain and the Republicans, they don’t have any new ideas, that’s why they’re spending all their time talking about me. I mean, you haven’t heard a positive thing out of that campaign in ... in a month. All they do is try to run me down and you know, you know this in your own life. If somebody doesn’t have anything nice to say about anybody, that means they’ve got some problems of their own. So they know they’ve got no new ideas, they know they’re dredging up all the stale old stuff they’ve been peddling for the last eight, 10 years.
"But, since they don’t have any new ideas the only strategy they’ve got in this election is to try to scare you about me. They’re going to try to say that I’m a risky guy, they’re going to try to say, 'Well, you know, he’s got a funny name and he doesn’t look like all the presidents on the dollar bills and the five dollar bills and, and they’re going to send out nasty emails.
"And, you know, the latest one they’ve got me in an ad with Paris Hilton," Obama said, referring to a McCain campaign ad launched today. "You know, never met the woman. But, but, you know, what they’re gonna try to argue is that somehow I’m too risky."
Freudian slip, anyone?
Obama spoke in general terms. Jake is the one who tried to make it the race card by suggesting Obama only brought it up because he's black. Obama framed it as what the Republicans do to Democrats. He threw in his name because the GOP has been attaching sinister connotations to his name for months. Obama never mentions his race in the entire conversation, Jake draws that conclusion all by himself.
I also need to point out that these comments were made before a predominantly white crowd at a town hall meeting in Rolla, Missouri. They laughed approvingly throughout the entire commentary. Trust me, if there was racism involved you would have seen them react quite differently.
Obama isn't the one playing the race card; Tapper is.
UPDATE I: Surprise, surprise. Rick Davis of the McCain campaign comes through right on schedule by also accusing the Obama campaign of race baiting. For proof of Obama's race baiting, Davis suggests the Obama campaign is filterng the attacks on McCain through - cough cough - the "liberal blogosphere:"
From Ben Smith at Politico:
Rick Davis tells Andrea Mitchell that inquiries from journalists -- spurred, he claimed, by the Obama campaign, as well as claims on liberal blogs tht the 'Celeb' ad had a racial edge, helped prompt his allegation that Obama was playing the race card.
Very interesting, you say?
Bullshit, I say. Here's why.
Based on what I've seen this far: Last night at 10:45 PM, Jake Tapper plays the race card in a screaming headline, deflecting the attention to Obama by claiming Barack did it himself. At 12:42 AM, TPM's Josh Marshall mocks Tapper's suggestion that when Obama said "he’s got a funny name and he doesn’t look like all the presidents on the dollar bills" Barack was being "inflammatory". Guess how Jake responds? Check out the title of Tapper's entry at 7:02 AM:
Prominent Liberal Blogger Says Britney Ad Implies Obama Has a "Taste for Young White Women"
Tapper goes on to quote the "liberal blogger" Josh Marshall of TPM - ahem - quite liberally. In fact, the entire 7:02 AM blog post is pretty much dominated by "liberal blogger" Marshall's comments. Then, there's a response from "The McCain Campaign" that naturally denies everything, followed by a closing "What say you?" from Tapper himself. Finally, after "inquiries from journalists" Davis attempts to attack Obama for what? Instigating a spat brewing between two journalists in the blogosphere?
Quoth Davis, via Politico:
The blog items, he said, were a third factor driving his comment. "I can only assume [the items] did not come out of the blue," he said, apparently crediting Obama's campaign with suggesting the theme to bloggers.
Now, I can understand Davis' disagreement with Josh Marshall's assertion. He's a Republican. That's what they do. And, whether you agree with Marshall's comment or not, at least Marshall cites past incidents of gutter tactics by the GOP to reach his conclusion. That's a hell of a lot more than Tapper did before he jumped to his assertion that Barack Obama played the race card. And, while I'm discussing Tapper's knight jump exegesis, may I introduce you to a well worn media tactic I like to call the "Alex Trebek" defense? It goes a little something like this:
- Reporter wants to inject a controversial topic into the public discourse.
- Reporter may not want to risk the blowback of being the first person to bring up the topic.
- Reporter decides to raise the controversial topic anyway, because he/she knows that if they do, the ensuing controversy will be an excellent way of generating media attention for him/herself which in turn helps further their career.
- Reporter decides to inject the controversial topic into the public discourse in the form of a question, knowing full well that the magical technique of putting a question mark at the end of even the most controversial statements eliminates any possible blow back upon the reporter, because they didn't actually draw that conclusion themselves, they were simply asking - and hey, that's what reporters always do.
I'll take "plausible deniability" for $500, Mr Trebek.
More from Rick Davis on the subject:
"His campaign actively has been feeding to journalists, all night last night and all day today, the notion that somehow something that we have done in our campaign -- which I could not identify to you today -- somehow had racial overtones," he said, in an apparent reference to the claim -- seen on liberal blogs -- that pairing Obama with two oversexed young white women carried a racial edge.
Nevermind the fact that Marshall, Atrios and others panning the ad are the ones drawing parallels between the "Celeb" ad and the "Harold, Call me?" ad that sank Ford's Senatorial hopes in 2006. What I cannot understand is where Davis gets off claiming Obama is responsible for the pushing the connections. Is Davis really trying to suggest that political campaigns routinely feed stories to sympathetic bloggers to trash their opponents? Does he really want to go there? Is he giving us the green light to tie the GOP directly to the racist, homophobic bile that oozes from the wingnut bloggers on the right?
Finally, as the Ben Smith blog entry concludes I caught this comment at its end:
Davis first cited Obama's comments in Missouri that Republicans would seek to scare voters about his name and appearance.
So, let's review. Rick Davis is citing a disagreement in the "liberal blogosphere" between independent bloggers as prrof that Barack Obama is deliberately injecting race into the campaign, yet the only evidence he offers to support the assertion are comments made by Barack in Missouri that Jake Tapper claims were "inflammatory." Meanwhile, Jake Tapper gets to use the Alex Trebek defense to get away with accusing Obama suggesting the whole thing in the first place.
Like I said: Jake Tapper is full of shit and he knows it.
UPDATE II Apparently the MSNBC video didn't embed like I thought it had, so instead here's a quick clip of ZBarack responding to all the negativity coming from the McCain campaign: