The "Balls in the Hat" Game
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Tom Toles Is a real Journalist!

Tom Toles gives his opinion of the ethics, competence, and goodwill of his Washington Post colleague Perry Bacon and their boss Len Downie:

Opinions: Tom Toles Cartoons - ( Obama's Eating of Vegetables Fuels Rumors About Him: Barack Obama doesn't hide his enjoyment of peas and beans, fueling Internet rumors that he's a jihadist vegetarian who will take the oath of office with his hand on a slab of damp tofu. He denies the rumors, but he sure does eat a lot of vegetables, including tofu at times, and the real significance of the rumors is how they will hurt him if they get repeated enough.

Inside: Are the rumors true? More discussion of them first.

More on Perry Bacon Jr.:

CJR: Is Perry Bacon Serious?: Paul McLeary: In The Washington Post this morning, reporter Perry Bacon Jr. wrote what may be the single worst campaign ‘08 piece to appear in any American newspaper so far this election cycle. In the front-page piece, Bacon muses over how the chances of Barack Obama getting elected president might be affected by the fact that he’s not Muslim. Seriously. To build his case, Bacon stumbles artlessly through all manner of rumor, innuendo, and xenophobic smear—never bothering to refute any of it, even though there is plenty of well-documented evidence to knock down much of this stuff.... Further down in the piece, we’re given the evidence for Bacon’s assertion: selected quotes from a variety of right-wing nut jobs.... Problem is, none of this is true, though Bacon never gets around to telling us that...

One Million Strong:: Washington Post Slammed for Giving Platform to Smear Campaign: 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.

WaPo lends credence to ridiculous Obama-Muslim nonsense - The Carpetbagger Report: As the presidential campaign has unfolded, there have been a handful of Washington Post articles about Democratic candidates that were so awful, I felt genuinely sorry for the newspaper. An odd front-page piece on John Edwards selling his house, a bizarre front-page expose on Hillary Clinton’s charitable donations, and the 1,300-word hit-job on the “controversy” surrounding Edwards’ haircut come to mind. But today’s lengthy front-page piece on “rumors” about Barack Obama’s non-existent Muslim background may be the worst, most irresponsible piece of journalism I’ve seen from any respectable news outlet this year. I’ve gone through it a couple of times, and I can’t quite figure out what the Post’s editors were thinking publishing the piece at all, better yet on the front page.

The SideTrack: Fried Bacon, Jr.: Under critical blow-back, Bacon has issued a statement defending the article. But with further trespass against factual reporting, his statement itself is more clear than the front page article itself. TPM reports: 'WaPo reporter Lois Romano addressed the controversy over the story. She observed that Obama has denied being a Muslim, adding that "airing some of this and giving him a chance to deny its accuracy could be viewed as setting the record straight." Right, but the problem here is that WaPo, and not just Obama, should have "denied the accuracy" of the Obama-is-a-Muslim nonsense. The Obama Muslim smear is based on lies, not "rumors." Bacon in his statement above calls the Obama Muslim smears "falsehoods." But they aren't identified as such in the piece.' Without delving into the depravity of paranoia that would disqualify a Muslim in the first place, it is at least worth asking what the point of this article was. In it's vague rhetoric of "rumors" and implications, it does nothing to illuminated the previously verified fallacies of the smear campaign. This now passes for journalism? This is being a "watchdog of democracy?" Would it kill today's media to ask themselves "how will what I am writing better inform the public?" In not doing so, they leave it up to us to ask how we will be better informed by reading what passes for content in many of today's newspapers, and support only those who offer us more.

As I have said before, every day that the Washington Post prints another newsprint edition, an angel loses its wings.