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I just watched a hit job on Barack Obama on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. In their "Keeping Them Honest" segment Tom Foreman looked at Obama's press conference and said that Obama was pulling back on his campaign promises. This was news to me since I had listened to the entire press conference and did not notice this at all. So, I went to the transcript to make sure.

It turns out Foreman made use of some fancy editing to create facts for his news story.

Tonight, this is what Foreman claimed about Obama's tax plan:

Foreman: Time and again out on the trail he said we need tax reform right now.

[Plays campaign video of Obama talking about giving the middle class a tax break.]

Foreman: And he said again today early in his press conference tax relief cannot wait. But when asked later on in that press conference, does that mean he will pursue tax reforms in 2009, he dodged the direct question and repeated again that he still wants to help the middle class.

[Video] Obama: But, obviously, over the next several weeks and months, we're going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what's taking place in the economy as a whole.

Foreman says Obama was asked about whether he would pursue tax reform in 2009, and he suggests Obama dodged his commitment to tax cuts for the middle class. But that is not what Obama was asked. This is the actual exchange:

Question: Mr. President-elect, do you still intend to seek income tax increases for upper-income Americans? And if so, should these Americans expect to pay higher taxes in 2009?

Obama: The -- my tax plan represented a net tax cut. It provided for substantial middle-class tax cuts; 95 percent of working Americans would receive them.

It also provided for cuts in capital gains for small businesses, additional tax credits. All of it is designed for job growth.

My priority is going to be, how do we grow the economy? How do we create more jobs?

I think that the plan that we've put forward is the right one, but, obviously, over the next several weeks and months, we're going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what's taking place in the economy as a whole.

But, understand, the goal of my plan is to provide tax relief to families that are struggling, but also to boost the capacity of the economy to grow from the bottom up.

He was asked whether he would initiate tax increases on upper-income Americans in 2009. In response he reiterated his commitment to tax cuts but did not say he would raise taxes on the wealthy in 2009. He wasn't asked about "tax reforms" in 2009. Of his commitment to lower taxes for middle income Americans Obama was forceful in the press conference:

Finally, as we monitor and address these immediate economic challenges, we will be moving forward in laying out a set of policies that will grow our middle class and strengthen our economy in the long term. We cannot afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign, including clean energy, health care, education, and tax relief for middle-class families.

On Iran, Foreman claimed that Obama was backing away from his position of direct talks:

Foreman: During the campaign he strongly called for talks with Iran. His website, which is still up by the way, says "Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior." Asked today, however, if he will launch those talks as soon as he takes office he said this:

[Video] Obama: Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should, you know, simply do in a knee- jerk fashion.

Again, Obama was not asked the question Foreman claims he was asked. Here is the actual exchange about the letter sent by Iran:

Question: Senator, for the first time since the Iranian revolution, the president of Iran sent a congratulations note to a new U.S. president. I'm wondering if, first of all, if you responded to President Ahmadinejad's note of congratulations and, second of all, and more importantly, how soon do you plan on sending low-level envoys to countries such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, to see if a presidential-level talk would be productive?

Obama: I am aware that the letter was sent. Let me state -- repeat what I stated during the course of the campaign.

Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. And we have to mount a international effort to prevent that from happening.

Iran's support of terrorist organizations I think is something that has to cease.

I will be reviewing the letter from President Ahmadinejad, and we will respond appropriately. It's only been three days since the election. Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should, you know, simply do in a knee- jerk fashion. I think we've got to think it through.

But I have to reiterate once again that we only have one president at a time. And I want to be very careful that we are sending the right signals to the world as a whole that I am not the president and I won't be until January 20th.

Obama was referring to Ahmadinejad's letter when he said you should not respond in a "knee-jerk fashion". Obama also reiterated that President Bush is still President and he did not want to send mixed signals before he is inaugarated. Foreman simply made up a question and answer that did not happen.

Foreman concludes with this bit of nonsense about what would be "unfair" and perhaps these "changes" are due to Obama now having a "deeper understanding of the issues":

Forman: Now, no one should expect him to deliver on his pledges until he takes the oath. That would be completely unfair. And, maybe these slight changes reflect a deeper understanding of the issues from his briefings. Maybe the situation will really change by the time he takes the oath. But, keeping them honest we will keep watching to let you know if the promises he ran on survive intact until Inauguration Day.

Perhaps Tom Foreman needs a deeper understanding of journalism. Or perhaps he should actually read the transcript before he broadcasts disinformation over cable news.

CNN should be ashamed of themselves. "Keeping Them Honest", my ass.

[Cross posted on my blog.]

CNN contact info:

To inform other blogs and media watchdogs:

Originally posted to Mash on Fri Nov 07, 2008 at 08:00 PM PST.

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