Media Matters, Columbia Journalism Review Slam Washington Post

Yesterday, as we all know, the Washington Post saw fit to elevate a whisper campaign to the front page of the newspaper.  The Post quoted extensively from charges about Obama's background without bothering to call them false or to refute them.

CBS featured the Post article on its website with the headline "Obama Dogged by Muslim Rumors."  As Greg Sargent put it:

Look -- Obama is not"dogged by Muslim rumors." He is the victim of a smear campaign based on lies. These two things are not the same. And incidentally, to whatever extent Obama is "dogged" by these rumors, surely this will only be facilitated when news orgs like WaPo fail to make a serious effort to knock them down before printing them.

The Washington Post tried to defend itself yesterday.  The author, Perry Bacon, sent out this email:

I thought the facts that 1. these falsehoods persist and 2. Obama make mentions of his time living in a Muslim country on the campaign trail as part of his foreign policy were both worth remarking. I think the story makes clear, including in the candidate's own words, he is a Christian.

This is precisely the problem.  Nowhere in the Washington Post story, of course, are these stories called false. 

The Post quotes the "candidate's own words" and nothing but the candidate's own words.  It does absolutely no reporting as to whether one side or the other is speaking the truth, even implying through its quoting of multiple sources of the smear that the charge has some basis.  And the Post calls Obama's words "denials," as Steve Benen puts it, "as if the attacks might have some merit."

Second, Bacon essentially blames Obama for the smear campaign against him, citing Obama's mentions of his childhood in Indonesia, as if they provoked and justified the response.

The Columbia Journalism Review slammed the article last night, calling it "the single worst campaign ‘08 piece to appear in any American newspaper so far this election cycle." 

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