If you would like a great example of how the Old Media takes a story that has no legitimacy at all and uses it as the basis for a smear job, the Associated Press offered a wonderful sampling of the tactic for you on June 8. From a headline that makes the issue seem more weighty than it is, to the lack of competent reporting from both sides of the matter, AP employed this favorite Old Media tactic by taking another swipe at Governor Sarah Palin with little by way of substantive evidence. It's another "seriousness of the charge" story despite the complete lack of evidence as well as a lack of any gravitas on the part of the original source of the charge.
At issue is the false charge leveled by a Huffington Post blogger that Governor Palin "plagiarized" a section of her speech as she introduced talk show host Michael Reagan in Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday, June 3. HuffPo blogger Geoffrey Dunn charged that Palin lifted several sections of Newt Gingrich's work without attribution, and AP ran with the story even as they allow Palin's lawyer to point out that she cited Gingrich twice in her speech.
The headline is particularly interesting in that it seems to imply something far more formal than a mere HuffPost blogger's blather. The AP story's headline on CBSNews.com screams, "Palin Slapped With Plagiarism Charge." After reading such a headline the "slapped with plagiarism charge" almost seems to say that some legal body had "charged" the Governor with some violation of the law. But the truth is the "charge" is more like a claim and the claim is not backed up even by the person that was supposed to have been plagiarized -- not that AP reports that, of course. Let's not let facts get in the way.
AP lays out the charge in its first few paragraphs.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been accused of paraphrasing at length from an article co-written by Newt Gingrich when she gave a speech, but her lawyer says proper credit was given to the former House speaker.
...Dunn compared Palin's speech introducing conservative talk show host Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, to an Anchorage audience Wednesday to the article urging Republicans to study Reagan, written by Gingrich and Craig Shirley in 2005.
Despite this blogger's claims, Palin did mention Gingrich as the source of the words at the outset of the speech. In fact, Palin mentioned Newt twice during her remarks the first time saying, "Recently, Newt Gingrich had written a good article about Reagan," and the second time she said, "what Newt had written in this article..." What more do you want in a spoken address to indicate a source?
On top of the false charge, AP notes that the blogger is writing a book on Palin and from his work on her thus far, no doubt it will not be a flattering look at her career. So a blogger accuses Palin of stealing from Newt Gingrich and AP reports this story despite the fact that this blogger has no legitimacy on the matter and is writing an adversarial book on her that he is hawking.
Also, notice how AP gives us the "but her lawyer says" line? Well, it turns out that through spokesman Rick Tyler, Newt Gingrich says the same thing as Palin's lawyer. Newt's own people say that no plagiarism occurred. Unfortunately, readers of the AP account were not informed of this fact.
The upshot of this whole deal is that AP used a flimsy charge made by a biased blogger and reported it as a serious matter and then didn't fully report that even the person that was supposed to have been plagiarized said there wasn't any plagiarism.
Now, don't get me wrong, here. I am not charging that a blogger is an insubstantial source merely on the face of it. I am saying this blogger lacks any serious gravitas. I am also saying that the charge itself is silly, flimsy, and foolish made solely to get the blogger attention as opposed to revealing any deep, dark Palin misdeeds.
Sadly, AP uses this bad source anyway and presents it as if it had veracity. And thus we have another smear job on Governor Palin based on unsubstantiated claims from a biased source presented to us as if it were news.
And the hits just keep comin,' folks.