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Opting-out of political smears

Monday, November 03, 2008 by Dave Winer.

I don't think reporters should pass on misleading stories. It would be better to act as a firewall, a defense against obvious campaign lies. It should be especially easy when they charges are aimed at the media itself. Permalink to this paragraph

Example. Sarah Palin, in the last days of the campaign, is saying that the SF Chronicle withheld comments from Obama saying he would "bankrupt the coal industry." Permalink to this paragraph

CNN: Palin knocks Obama over months-old coal commentsPermalink to this paragraph

A picture named republican.jpgThe statement she's referring to was made in January, when Obama was still pretty green, and spoke perhaps a little too directly, with too much of truth. I don't think he said he would or wanted to bankrupt the coal industry, rather that he wanted to do something to reverse global warming. Almost anything we do to keep this planet habitable by our species will make it harder for the coal industry, which by definition pumps carbon to the atmosphere. Coal is carbon, pure and simple, and when you burn it, it goes into the atmosphere. That should be expensive. We should encourage development of technology that generates electricity without doing that. Permalink to this paragraph

Anyway, the Chronicle says it published the comments in print and as full video. I think MSNBC should check that out before passing through the Palin charge without comment. You don't have to call her a liar, you could just ignore the statement.  Permalink to this paragraph

SF Chronicle: Palin suggests Chronicle withheld Obama remarksPermalink to this paragraph

In any case, it's gratifying in the final days of the campaign to see the media not getting totally obsessed with other obvious smears. It's just the extremes in the blogosphere that are focusing on the crazy stuff. Maybe that could be the norm in political coverage. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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