Washington Post Publishes 5,500 Word Front Page Sports Story on 'Obama's Basketball Love Affair'

Exactly one month ago, the Washington Post published a 5,400 word front page hit piece on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's high school years which included a now infamous hair-cutting incident.

On Sunday, the Post devoted 5,500 words, beginning on the front page of the sports section, to an excerpt of David Maraniss's new book with the headline "President Obama’s Love for Basketball Can be Traced Back to His High School Team":

To say that President Obama loves basketball understates the role of the sport in his life. He has been devoted to the game for 40 years now, ever since the father he did not know and never saw again gave him his first ball during a brief Christmastime visit. Basketball is central to his self identity. It is global yet American-born, much like him. It is where he found a place of comfort, a family, a mode of expression, a connection from his past to his future. With foundation roots in the Kansas of his white forebears, basketball was also the city game, helping him find his way toward blackness, his introduction to an African American culture that was distant to him when he was young yet his by birthright .

Here's the front page of the sports section:

That article at the very top is the one in question with a picture of Obama with his high school basketball team.

This is what the editors of the Post's sports section thought was the most important story from Saturday, a day which included: Maria Sharapova winning the French Open and completing her lifetime Grand Slam; Union Rags winning the Belmont Stakes; the Miami Heat beating the Boston Celtics in game seven of the Eastern Conference NBA finals, and; the New Jersey Devils beating the Los Angeles Kings in game six of the NHL finals.

Nope. More important was President Obama's high school basketball days in Hawaii four decades ago.

It's not like Post readers hadn't heard about the current White House resident's teen years before. It published a 10,000 word piece about the junior senator from Illinois' past in August 2008.

Of course, you can't put 5,500 words on one page, so the post devoted all of pages D6 and D7 to the President's basketball past:

The headline at the top of page D6 read, "At Punahou, his first taste of winning, adoration."

Tough to get free advertising like that, isn't it?

As for the President's pot smoking in high school that Maraniss covered in some length in his book, that was actually relegated to the second to last sentence in the very last paragraph at the very end of this 5,500 word love letter (emphasis added):

Virtually none of this part of Obama’s basketball history was recorded in Dreams From My Father. Nor should that have been expected. Most anecdotes in his memoir flowed through the thematic stream of race. So the reader learned of a few jolting moments of awareness and understandable anger, such as when a JV coach flippantly used the word “niggers” to describe black players in a pickup game, and then lamely tried to differentiate them from people like Obama. The result was powerful storytelling. But what he left out unwittingly made it easier for political critics decades later to portray him as a stranger in their midst, whose life was outside the American mainstream -- a purposefully negative construct derived from distorted history. If there is a representative teenager’s life, Barry Obama lived a version of it in Hawaii in the late 1970s. Several things stood out -- he went to a prestigious school, he lived with his grandparents, his father was gone, his mother was infrequently present, he was a hapa black in a place where most people were a lighter shade of brown-- and those traits helped shape his particular character, but they did not make his life odd or mysterious. He smoked pot with his Choom Gang and goofed around outside the classroom, where he came across as smart and mature if not notably studious, but the central activity of his high school life was basketball. With equally strong roots in the Kansas of his ancestors and the playgrounds of black America, basketball connected the disconnected parts of him -- and he was good enough to play with “the best bunch of guys” on the best team in Hawaii, one of the best teams in the nation.

As NewsBusters reported back in August 2008, this was similar to how Obama's pot smoking was handled back then.

The author of that piece was - surprise, surprise! - David Maraniss.

Sick-making, isn't it?

It should go without saying that everyone at the Washington Post ought to be ashamed of this obvious campaigning for Barack Obama, and should seriously wonder if they're currently working for a newspaper or the committee to reelect the President.

(HT Dan Gainor)

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Noel Sheppard's picture

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