Yesterday, a YouTube user named NakedEmperorNews uploaded an audio clip of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) telling the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board in January 2008 that under his cap and trade plan, “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can,” but “it will bankrupt them.” The right-wing blog Newsbusters lactched onto the audio, falsely claiming it had been “been hidden from the public” and “kept under wraps until this time.”
Newsbusters’ report was quickly picked up by the Drudge Report and the conservative blogosphere began crying foul that the “audio was hidden until now because the interview was with the far left San Francisco Chronicle.” In remarks yesterday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused the paper of suppressing the interview:
“Now a couple points on this: One is that here again, why is the audio tape just now surfacing? This interview was given to San Francisco folks many, many months ago. You should have known about this, so that you would have better decision-making information as you go into the voting booth,” Palin said as shouts of “liberal media!” could be heard from the crowd.
As Fox News reporter Shushannah Walshe notes, the charge that the paper was “withholding the information” is hard to support considering that the audio file has always been available. In a blog post yesterday, senior Chronicle political writer Carla Marinucci points out that the paper “has never, hidden any interview, audio or video, of Obama from its readers”:
The truth: the paper’s January editorial board session with Obama included comments about coal. The entire interview has been in the public domain, available on line to the public — and to the McCain campaign — since early January.
”How can anyone suggest that we hid an interview that we did, immediately put up on the web — and advertised to our readers,” said editorial page editor John Diaz Sunday, regarding his hosting of Obama at the session. ”We promoted it like like hell…and I’m sure the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign scrubbed it. You can still find the whole 48 minutes and 33 seconds on line.”
Marinucci also called Newsbusters out on its “shoddy” work, adding that they have “been caught in the past simply fabricating news regarding the Chronicle’s coverage.” Marinucci says that Newsbusters has never offered a correction when errors have been pointed out.
One of Newsbusters’ purported missions is to bring “responsibility to the news media.” But failing to admit and correct errors when they are made is far from demonstrating any sort of “responsibility.” In fact, it is irresponsible.