03 April 2008

Profiles in Hackery

This is what issued forth when ABC's "Senior National Correspondent," Jake Tapper, squatted over his keyboard this morning:
Last August, I ran into Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, outside the Senate chamber in the Capitol.

...As any close friend or family member can attest, I have an unusually keen sense of smell and immediately I smelled cigarette smoke on Obama. Frankly, he reeked of cigarettes.

Obama ran off before I could ask him if he'd just snuck a smoke, so I called his campaign.

They denied it. He'd quit months before, in February, they insisted. He chewed nicorette.

But I knew what I'd smelled and I asked his campaign to double-check and to ask him if he'd had a cigarette.

They reported back that he had told them he hadn't had a cigarette since he quit.

And maybe that was true. Maybe I imagined the cigarette smoke. My olfactory nerve somehow misfired.

Except….last night on MSNBC's Hardball, Obama admitted that his attempt to wean himself from the vile tobacco weed had not been entirely successful.

“I fell off the wagon a couple times during the course of it, and then was able to get back on," he said. "But it is a struggle like everything else.”

Now I wonder about last August.

It's not a big deal in the scheme of things -- the war on Iraq, a major economic crisis -- indeed, it's miniscule. Hardly worth mentioning.

Except that I don't like feeling that I wasn't being dealt with honestly. And as much as citizens who are suspect of the media might scoff at such a notion, many of us consider ourselves to be your representatives to help make sure our leaders are telling us the truth, and leading the country down a path we're confident is the right one. (Corny, I know.)
Dearest Jake,

Last I checked, none of the candidates for president are still in high school, yet, for some reason, that's about the caliber of "journalism" we're seeing, here.

I'm not sure what's more embarrassing:

The fact that, in the heat of what was already shaping up to be an historic primary duel, a candidate possibly sneaking a cigarette is what piqued your investigative interests, or that, months later, you think this episode provides your readers with some revealing insight into someone's character.

In your own words, this anecdote is hardly worth mentioning, yet here you are, using a national forum to call into question a man's--sorry, "campaign's"--honesty based on something you think you smelled eight months ago and a surrogate's response to it...despite the fact that, when asked directly, Obama was perfectly candid.

I'm glad you finally found yourself a framework on which to hang your self-righteous (not to mention self-aggrandizing) pronouncement about your oh-so-venerable role as the public's guardian of honesty. I'm sure you were saving that particular nugget for quite awhile. But it could not be more out of place than in the context of this juvenile hit piece.

Corny? Not hardly.

When it comes to that above-the-fray, bygone idealism pose you're affecting in order to insert yourself into the (non) story you've manufactured, "pathetic," is what comes to mind, Tapper, not corny.

Your job is not to remind us little people what your role in the public discourse is.

Your job is to report on the candidates and the real issues we can use to decide between them.

Grow up, and start doing it.

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