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Greta Van Susteren Misrepresents Chicago Tribune's Obama Endorsement, Accuses THEM Of Bias

Reported by Ellen - October 18, 2008 -

During a show that was nearly all Republican talking points, Greta Van Susteren accused the Republican-leaning Chicago Tribune of media bias in their endorsement of Barack Obama. Overlooking most of the newspaper's reasoning for making its first-ever endorsement of a Democratic candidate for president, Van Susteren complained that the paper unfairly criticized Sarah Palin's lack of experience while giving Obama a pass on what Van Susteren considered an equal lack of experience. But the paper's endorsement was based on Obama's record, not his level of experience. And while Palin was characterized as unqualified, the paper did not say it was because of her short time in public office. With video.

The segments on the October 17, 2008 edition of On The Record included Part 2 of a discussion about William Ayers' time as a 60's radical (with an FBI agent as the only guest), an interview with the governor of Nebraska who just persuaded the University of Nebraska to cancel an upcoming speech by Ayers and more allegations of voter fraud. There was no Obama spokesman on the show, nobody to compare the dangers of voter disenfranchisement with the alleged threats of voter fraud.

Van Susteren very carefully avoided alluding to the Tribune's historic endorsement as a plus for Obama. First, she sandwiched it between two other stories about “attacks” on Palin (the last story about Palin not shown in the video below).

“18 days until the election and the attacks on Governor Palin are continuing from all directions, including from some conservatives,” Van Susteren began, immediately suggesting that it was an unfair pile-on.

That led directly to a clip of “Governor Palin react(ing) to the attacks on her family.” Attacks on the family? Another implication that the attacks were unfair and uncalled for. But the only attacks we saw came from Peggy Noonan's editorial in the Wall Street Journal (not in the video below) and included nothing about Palin's family.

Van Susteren continued, “Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune is endorsing Senator Barack Obama for president, the first time the newspaper has ever endorsed a Democrat for the White House. But their reasoning is curious. Here's part of the endorsement: McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate... but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead... McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president.”

Van Susteren added, “Now this seems odd. The Chicago Tribune questions Governor Palin's experience but doesn't mention Senator Obama's. Governor Palin's a two-year governor. Before that, she was a small-town mayor. When you take away the time spent campaigning for president, Senator Obama is a two-year member of the United States senate and before that, he was a state senator. That experience seems virtually equal to us. Disagreeing with or scrutinizing Governor Palin's policies or her vision is one thing but criticizing her experience without comparing it to Senator Obama's seems a bit unfair.”

Actually, the Tribune did not question Palin's experience, it questioned her fitness to serve. It said she was “unqualified” and “not prepared to step in... and serve as president” but it never said that it was because of her time in office.

On the other hand, the Tribune expressly praised Obama's record while acknowledging his newness to the national political scene. The paper wrote:

Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.

It doesn't seem much of a coincidence that Van Susteren read none of the reasons the paper chose to endorse Obama.