Shut Up Whiners
Dana Milbank flat-out lied in his article parroting Obama's "presumptuousness," got caught, and now can't face facts.
In a July 31 washingtonpost.com online discussion, Dana Milbank dismissed participants' criticisms of his July 30 column -- a "sketch" of Sen. Barack Obama's "premature presidency" -- as "whines." Indeed, Milbank began the discussion by acknowledging that "some of you have some thoughts you'd like to share about yesterday's Sketch on the premature presidency of Barack Obama," and before taking questions, wrote: "I've decided to approach today's chat as a wine writer would. ... Today, I am inaugurating the Whine Enthusiast, in which I will rate your whines."
The Washington Post itself was not quite as dismissive, publishing a correction to one falsehood (in a column rife with misleadingly cropped quotes, false insinuations, and negligent reporting, as Media Matters for America noted). Milbank falsely asserted that Obama "g[a]ve British Prime Minister Gordon Brown some management advice over the weekend." The Post ran the following correction: "This column incorrectly said that Sen. Barack Obama shared his views on how to avoid micromanagement with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last Saturday. Obama shared those views with British opposition leader David Cameron."
Referring to a July 29 meeting Obama had with members of the House of Representatives, Milbank wrote in his column: "Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, 'This is the moment ... that the world is waiting for,' adding: 'I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.' " Milbank cited the quote in support of his thesis that Obama was becoming a "presumptuous nominee" and as evidence that Obama's "own hubris" may be his "biggest challenger." Several participants in the online discussion, apparently in reference to this quote, accused Milbank of "misquot[ing]" Obama, "omit[ting] the full context of his quote," and "intentionally butcher[ing] Barack Obama's words to sell papers."
During the discussion, a reader from Pasadena, California, asked Milbank: "I do wonder whether or not echoing a Rovian talking point, complete with misquote, is really your best starting point." Milbank responded:
Under challenge is a quote in the story, and in an earlier post on the washingtonpost.com blog, The Trail, by my colleague Jonathan Weisman. We cite a witness to Obama's private meeting with House Democrats telling us that Obama said "this is the moment ... that the world is waiting for" and "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."
House Democratic aides got up Thursday morning and decided that the quotes looked bad. While not challenging the quotations themselves, they said that the quotes were out of context. This is interesting, because our source who was among the people complaining about the quotes yesterday sent us the quotes in writing in an email Wednesday night.
Evidently no recording was made, so we'll probably never know the exact wording.
Milbank's trying to become the next Maureen Dowd and I'm sure he got quite a few backslaps from his Beltway friends on this one. He's not going to bother with such trifles as fact-checking or accuracy. The narrative is set, and anyone who wants to change it is just a whiner who's pissed off that their guy just got zinged.
He's winning "America's Next Top Clueless Pundit," and he's not going to turn in his crown now.
It really is some news operation that looks with nothing but contempt at their readers.
...on the other hand, Bob Herbert is pretty clear-eyed today.