January 22, 2007

Fox Pulls an AP

And Captain Ed has the details:

The curse of single sourcing has bitten more than just the AP lately. Insight Magazine, a publication of the Washington Times, ran a single-sourced story last Friday about Barack Obama regarding the choice of school his stepfather made while they lived in Indonesia, and Fox News spent all day talking about it. In this case, Fox used the news item to hit at both Obama and Hillary Clinton without ever confirming anything about the sourcing. Howard Kurtz, in his indispensable media-watch column, explains:
Insight, a magazine owned by the Washington Times, cited unnamed sources in saying that young Barack attended a madrassah, or Muslim religious school, in Indonesia. In his 1995 autobiography, Obama said his Indonesian stepfather had sent him to a "predominantly Muslim school" in Jakarta, after two years in a Catholic school -- but Insight goes further in saying it was a madrassah and that Obama was raised as a Muslim. Fox News picked up the Insight charge on two of its programs, playing up an angle involving Hillary Clinton. The magazine, citing only unnamed sources, said that researchers "connected" to the New York senator were allegedly spreading the information about her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. ...

On the morning show "Fox & Friends" on Friday, co-host Steve Doocy said that madrassahs are financed by Saudis and teach a radical version of Islam known as Wahhabism, though he said there was a question whether that was the curriculum in the late 1960s, when Obama attended the school. Another co-host, Gretchen Carlson, said that those on the show weren't referring to all Muslims, only "the kind that want to blow us up." ...

On Friday afternoon, John Gibson, host of Fox's "The Big Story," began a segment this way: "Hillary Clinton reported to be already digging up the dirt on Barack Obama. The New York senator has reportedly outed Obama's madrassah past. That's right, the Clinton team reported to have pulled out all the stops to reveal something Obama would rather you didn't know -- that he was educated in a Muslim madrassah."

Kurtz reminds readers that reputable news agencies used to refuse to run stories from anonymous sources unless they could get independent confirmation. Those days are apparently over. Instead, we have the dynamic of one news agency running a story, and then other news agencies report on the reporting of that story, until everyone forgets that the basis of the entire issue came from one source, and one who refused to go on the record at that.

I'm admittedly very late to the table on this one, but both Insight and Fox were well out of bounds in heaping such uncorroborated scorn upon Barack Obama. Politics is a hard-nosed business, but no child can control what school he goes to, and to imply that Obama is some sort of Islamist Manchurian candidate—the angle Fox seemed to be trying to promote across several shows—goes beyond the pale.

Fox and Insight should either produce named sources to back their allegations—I find that doubtful—or they should retract their commentary during these same time slots by these same hosts and publicly apologize to both Barack Obama for making the slur, and to Hillary Clinton for stating her campaign was behind it.

I disagree with the politics of both individuals, but there are certainly valid issues upon which someone can criticize either of these candidates without having to stoop to such scurrilous single-sourced accounts.

Update: Insight strikes back. Ouch. Getting catty...

Update: Allah has CNN's debunking.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 22, 2007 04:22 PM | TrackBack

The Fox slam does sound unsubstantiated.

So far, all I see here is a late night one-liner, nothing of substance.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at January 22, 2007 05:40 PM