If there was a daily prize for "Propaganda Tool of the Day," Politico would have won it both yesterday and today.
Yesterday, as Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted, the web site changed the title of an embarrassing report by Kyle Cheney on low attendance at an Organizing For America event from "Poor attendance at Obamacare event in Virginia" (number of volunteers who showed up: one) to "Obamacare message war goes local." Today, the web site's Reid J. Epstein, in a report on OFA's totally unsurprising initiation of efforts to assist Democratic candidates in specific contests, informed readers that two people he had interviewed for the story "asked to be removed" — and that he honored their requests. Does Politico still expect its readers and the public to believe it is practicing journalism? Excerpts, including the prize-clinching reason why the two people involved asked to be removed, are after the jump.
Epstein's piece seemingly began in promising fashion, but collapsed into utter parody at Paragraph 11 (bolds are mine):
Organizing for Action pitches help for Democrats
Organizing for Action is looking to help Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, marking the first time that President Barack Obama’s political arm has explicitly crossed into Democratic politics.
Several political operatives and potential donors told POLITICO that OFA Executive Director Jon Carson made the pitch to help Nunn in various discussions this spring.
OFA Chairman Jim Messina has also held discussions with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee about mobilizing Obama supporters in Republican-held districts in races the party hopes will be competitive, according to a Democratic official.
It’s a dramatic step for the group, founded in January, to help promote the president’s agenda. OFA says it’s not endorsing specific candidates or participating in “electoral politics,” but by telling donors that its work will directly help Democratic candidates, OFA is jumping over a partisan boundary it previously had said it wouldn’t cross.
(Most of Paragraphs 6 to 9)
... (former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes said that) "We need [OFA] to become involved in registering people who are now turning to us. That includes white women, Hispanics and, of course, African-Americans. I was encouraging him to become more and more involved. I told him, ‘Y’all ought to get involved in this race.’”
Barnes declined say how Carson responded. “I won’t get into the details of a private conversation,” he said.
OFA spokeswoman Katie Hogan said the group “is not coordinating on targeted districts with the DCCC” and isn’t working on any specific race."
"Organizing for Action does not participate in electoral politics. We are not partisan,” Hogan said. “We are an issue advocacy group that works on the agenda the American people voted for in 2012 ..."
Meanwhile, two people interviewed by POLITICO subsequently asked to be removed from the story after receiving a phone call from Carson.
Why would anyone want to read past that point? Epstein has just admitted to tailoring his story to remove interviews he had at least been considering using (actually, "remove" implies that they had been targeted for inclusion) because a hardened Democratic Party operative told the two people involved to tell him to.
Would Reid Epstein even think about responding to similar requests from conservatives or Republicans? I very much doubt it.
People who want regurgitated Democratic Party talking points and official strategy postures can go straight to the OFA, DNC and White House web sites and skip the middleman, Reid. But for serving as that middleman, you and your website are America's "Propaganda Tool of the Day.""
Here are two responses to those tempted to congratulate Epstein for his admission. First, the reporter's admission seems to be more about making sure that Jon Carson knows that he is being a good lapdog than about being forthright with readers. Second, how many times has Epstein complied with other leftists' requests to be removed or kept out of stories without telling his readers? Betcha it's a bunch.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.