Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Substantive answers cause misquotes

Jerry Stratton, February 24, 2008

Barack Obama has been criticized during the campaign for not being substantive enough. I tend to agree with those criticisms, but the fact is he’s not in a substantive campaign yet. And when he tries to provide a substantive answer—even one about the process of elections rather than the issues—media doesn’t want to handle it. This weekend’s flap is a case in point.

The quote on CNN was “Obama: I’d get different treatment if I lost as much as Clinton.”

But Obama didn’t say that. The reporter said that. Obama said “if you’re the title holder, you don’t lose it on points”. He was explaining why (in response to that question) it made sense that Senator Clinton’s campaign has more resilience among voters than would a relative unknown with the same recent track record in the primaries. His explanation made sense. It wasn’t whining (as some are claiming based on the headline). But being common sense and non-inflammatory it wasn’t a newsworthy answer. So it had to be re-written.

This is a common headline tactic when a candidate gives an answer that the media outlet doesn’t find salacious enough: rewrite the question in first person and attribute it to them, or make an assumption about the answer and attribute that assumption to the candidate.

Hat tip to Don Surber.

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