WaPo Changes AttackWatch.com-Related Post Title to Make It About ‘Conservative’ Instead of General Ridicule (See Update)
The Obama administration and the Obama campaign aren’t the only ones who should be embarrassed by the AttackWatch.com snitch site Obama for America recently created. As demonstrated last night in a series of Associated Press searches (not in quotes) which resulted in nothing relevant and still don’t (here on “attackwatch.com”; here on “Attack Watch”; here on “Obama campaign”; and here on “Obama for America”), the establishment press has mostly ignored Attack Watch and its authoritarian aroma.
When not ignoring it, the press has mischaracterized those who are ridiculing it. A particularly embarrassing case in point occurred yesterday at the Washington Post’s “Blogpost” blog. After posting an item by Elizabeth Flock headlined “Attack Watch, new Obama campaign site to ‘fight smears,’ becomes laughing stock of the Internet,” the Post replaced the headline’s last two words with “conservatives” — quite inaccurately, it turns out.
Evidence that “the Internet” was used in the original headline includes the fact that the word is still in the post’s URL, or web address:
At most blogs, a post’s URL is determined when the writer clicks on the “publish” button. At that point, the blog program creates a hyphenated string containing the key words in the post’s headline. Unless WaPo’s software is unique (highly doubtful), “Internet” was in the original headline.
Additionally, a Google Web search on the last five words of the “Internet” version of the headline returns a couple of items posted by people who saw and noted it in its original form at The Augur’s Well blog and at a tweet by LaborUnionReport.
Flock’s post shows that a more generalized description of critics was more appropriate:
As the 2012 presidential campaign heats up, President Obama’s campaign team has set up a new Web site, AttackWatch.com, to challenge negative statements about the president made by Republican presidential candidates and conservatives.
Obama for America national field director Jeremy Bird told ABC News that the site’s goal is to offer “resources to fight back” against attacks. Mostly, that means fact checking statements from the likes of GOP presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and conservative commentator Glenn Beck and offering evidence to the contrary. The site is designed in bold red and black colors, and uses statements like “support the truth” and “fight the smears.”
The response to the site has been less than stellar.
… Tommy Christopher of Mediaite noted sarcastically of the site, “Great. Sounds like a terrific content-generating resource for right-wing bloggers, too. Everybody wins!”
While the initiative is reminiscent of a similar online effort launched during the 2008 campaign, called Fight the Smears, the intimidating design and language of the new site seems to be what’s causing a bigger ruckus.
Fight the Smears looked and felt far less scary …
Last time I checked, Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher was not anywhere near conservative. In fact, Christopher has come in for a bit of media bias-related criticism at NewsBusters.
As for the old “Fight the Smears” being “less scary,” that has less to do with the site having been designed differently than the fact that its beneficiary was a presidential contender, not the President of the United States. Though the old site betrayed the candidate’s authoritarian tendencies, which was scary in a very real sense, at least the candidate didn’t have the full scope of the federal government’s resources at his disposal. Now he does — and yes, humor and ridicule aside, the fact that he’s allowing his campaign to flaunt its intimidation, albeit ineptly, is indeed scarier.
It seems that the Post’s headline writers simply couldn’t stand the idea that Obama’s snitch has been attacked from all sides; so it wanted to pretend that it was only coming from conservatives. It’s not.
One of the commenters at the WaPo blog post had an even stronger point about the paper’s degree of interest in the story:
Pravda on the Potomac buries this story on a blog. If a Republican pulled this fascist sheet it would be front page news for months.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.
UPDATE, Sept. 16: Tommy Christopher contacted NewsBusters (effort appreciated), noting the following –
… the original version of the WaPo article did not contain that quote from me, it only sourced conservatives. The quote from my piece was added after the headline change. Second, while I was happy to get the link, that quote was not representative of my piece, which was a balanced take on the site’s merits, and was written before I’d seen any of the reactions to it.
Okay, so the WaPo item was conservatives-only when the title said “Internet,” and then had a non-conservative “balanced take” reaction when the title was changed to make the story about “conservatives.” “Gang that couldn’t shoot straight” comes to mind.
Additionally, non-conservative, usually plays-it-straight Jake Tapper has weighed in with “The Problem with the Obama Campaign’s ‘AttackWatch’ Website.”