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Kristol, citing NewsMax, gets Obama story wrong. Does FOX care?

Reported by Chrish - March 18, 2008 -

Not so long ago (September/October 2007) Bill O'Reilly had one of his extended hissy fits over Media Matters reporting his comments, on the Radio Factor, about the civility he encountered at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem. He railed for a week or more about the seriousness of the situation wherein a "farleft smear merchant's" reporting could be picked up by the mainstream media (CNN, 'elements' at NBC, and a local NY ABC outlet) and concluded that the media can no longer be trusted. Enter Bill Kristol and the New York Times.

What a quandary! The paper of record has been a favorite target of FOX personnel for their rumored "liberal bias," yet they've employed the farthest of the right, PNAC Chairman William Kristol, as a columnist. From the start Kristol has been sloppy in his writing. Yesterday's column 3/17/08 contained misinformation about Barack Obama, accusing the Senator of being present for Jeremiah Wright's rants even after Obama declared he had not been in the church for the offending sermons. The NYTimes published Kristol's column even though the Senator had already denied being present; when it was discovered that Kristol's source was backing down, an on-line correction was made to the article:

"In this column, I cite a report that Sen. Obama had attended services at Trinity Church on July 22, 2007. The Obama campaign has provided information showing that Senator Obama did not attend Trinity that day. I regret the error."

The report he originally cited was from NewsMax, a notoriously right-wing site that is hardly considered a reliable source. The author, Ronald Kessler, in turn cited one report from a NewsMax colleague:

"In fact, Obama was present in the South Side Chicago church on July 22 last year when Jim Davis, a freelance correspondent for Newsmax, attended services along with Obama.

In his sermon that day, Wright tore into America, referring to the “United States of White America” and lacing his sermon with expletives as Obama listened. Hearing Wright’s attacks on his own country, Obama had the opportunity to walk out, but Davis said the senator sat in his pew and nodded in agreement."

At some point during the day, Newsmax offered this "clarification:"

"The Obama campaign has told members of the press that Senator Obama was not in church on the day cited, July 22, because he had a speech he gave in Miami at 1:30 PM. Our writer, Jim Davis, says he attended several services at Senator Obama's church during the month of July, including July 22. The church holds services three times every Sunday at 7:30 and 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central time. While both the early morning and evening service allowed Sen. Obama to attend the service and still give a speech in Miami, Mr. Davis stands by his story that during one of the services he attended during the month of July, Senator Obama was present and sat through the sermon given by Rev. Wright as described in the story. Mr. Davis said Secret Service were also present in the church during Senator Obama's attendance. Mr. Davis' story was first published on Newsmax on August 9, 2007. Shortly before publication, Mr. Davis contacted the press office of Sen. Obama several times for comment about the Senator's attendance and Rev. Wright's comments during his sermon. The Senator's office declined to comment."

Editor and Publisher reported

"For his part, Kessler at Newsmax admits today that his source now has fallen away from his specific July 22 claim, saying, "he attended several services at Senator Obama's church during the month of July, including July 22," and can no longer be certain of which date he has written about."

Well, well, well. We know Bill O'Reilly hates the New York Times - HATES them - so much they're on his website's blacklist. And we know he doesn't think that mainstream media outlets should be echoing what's found on so-called farleft websites. Does the same standard apply to farright websites? We've seen the Drudge Report used as a source for a story that appeared on FOXNews.com, so apparently not. We'll see if this NewsMax/Kristol/New York Times misinformation stream makes BillO's head explode like MediaMatters reports did. On the one hand he'd have a chance to go after the NYTimes for hiring a sloppy, fact-challenged hack like Kristol; on the other, he'd have to go after a neo-con fave like NewsMax. What to do, what to do? Glad I'm not him. (on SO many levels.)