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McCain's Education Ad Blasted by Fact-Checkers

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A day after this blog took issue with Sen. John McCain's new ad, which hits Barack Obama on a committee vote he cast five years ago on sex ed while in the Illinois State Senate, two big newspapers are agreeing with us.

The Washington Post declares that his ad is "dishonest, deceptive." In the ad, the McCain campaign pulls out a quote from an Education Week story from early 2007 that says Obama hasn't made a "signficiant mark" on education. The Post correctly points out that the EdWeek story, however, was "generally favorable" to Obama and detailed his grassroots efforts while in the Illinois legislature, and his push for early education. The Post also takes issue with the attribution of two other statements in the ad—that's he's been "elusive" on accountability and that he's defending the "public school monopoly." These come from opinion pieces in The Post and the Chicago Tribune, but you wouldn't know that if you're not closely paying attention because the attribution quickly flashes on screen. "A casual viewer or listener could easily get the impression that all the quotes came from Education Week," The Post said.

The Post further wrote:

It implies that its critique of the Democratic presidential nominee has been endorsed by the nonpartisan journal Education Week, when in fact it is a hodgepodge of quotes from a variety of sources stitched together to form a highly partisan political attack.

Meanwhile, the New York Times finds in its "Check Point" feature that McCain's ad "distorts Obama's policy." The Times essentially says that the ad distorts the coverage of Education Week, saying:

The same publication has also criticized Mr. McCain, in language that was perhaps even stronger. Early this year, in an article titled “John McCain Where Art Thou?” it complained that he offered “a laundry list of fairly vague answers” on how to improve schools and did not make education a priority.

“McCain is a campaign-finance, foreign-relations, anti-abortion, tax-cut candidate,” the magazine said. “Education is not his thing. Depending on your perspective, McCain’s relative silence on education may be a good thing. If you think the federal government has grossly overreached into the state business of education, then he may be your guy.”

But a little fact-checking of the fact-checkers finds one flaw with the New York Times: they elevate my mere blog post to an "article." "The publication" didn't write those words—I did. As a reporter who writes both blog posts and "articles," I can assure you there's a big difference. My blog posts have a lot of voice in them as I strive to bring perspective and attention to the issue of education in this election year. They're short, written in sometimes a few minutes' time, and are part of an ongoing dialogue and back-and-forth about the issue of education—and need to be taken in that context. Our stories are far more heavily edited, are much more comprehensive, and don't take on the same voice as our individual blog posts do.

1 Comment

Dear concerned citizens of America and mass media of the U.S.A.

As a concerned disabled American Veteran and American citizen, I consider it my duty and responsibility to address the following critical issues facing the voters of our Greatgrand nation, the United States of America [USA].

The citizens of the United States of America [USA] have the ultimate power and responsibility to elect the Right Ticket with the right joint "temperament, judgement, and statesmanship" to lead our nation as well as change our nation's present and future moral, political, economic, educational, health care, energy, military, and foundational soul.
In my firm professional, personal, and political opinion, the media should help the common voter to explore and discuss the following attributes of the present Republican and Democratic presidential slates:
1. Does the joint ticket have a calm, cool, and collected " temper and impulse" [Presidential Temperament]?
2. Does each ticket have sound and sustained "Judgment and Caliber"?
3. Does each ticket have a "presidential depth and degree" in regard to their purpose, policies, and positions?
4. Does each ticket have adequate, "understanding and knowledge" of workings around Washington"?
5. Does each ticket have enough "vigor, wisdom and Vision" for the future of our beloved Great-grand Nation?
6. Does each ticket possess enough joint foreign policy experience and exposure based on "American Values, Virtues, Vastness, and strong soul"?
7. Are their campaign talk, slogans, ads, plans, and programs based on facts and are they free of fear, fiction, frivolous labels, unfair attacks, negativity, and impulsivity? [Danger to country and countries mission[s].
8. Does the ticket keep country or politics first? [McCain stole Obama's change and is running with it.]

As a Independent registered voter I have decided to vote for the Obama-Biden ticket. I am sure they will protect our national security, strengths, stamina and soul as well as rebuild our nation from the bottom up in all areas of need. The OBAMA-BIDEN ticket will restore our global standing with the use of maximum, firm international diplomacy and minimal force if and when indicated.

Yours sincerely,

COL. A.M. Khajawall [Ret] MD., Forensic psychiatrist, Colonel, US-AR / MC Combat Stress Control[Ret], Disabled American Veteran and Iraq Freedom team.

PS: This nation will not buy into the kitchen sink strategy. We are getting deeper into internal and external holes through these attacks and the world is laughing at us as they enjoy our partisan Pitt Bull wounds. I am sure the collective deceptive measures of the GOP, RNC, FOX, RUSH, ROVE, McCain, and his surrogates will fail to deprive American voters of their deserved leadership. Media stop cultural divide, distraction's, and possible war. It is critically against USA internal and external challenges. Media play fair and do not trivialize or personalize this election. Stakes are too high and we need to address issues without getting too emotional about personalizes. Correct the incorrect and provide voters information accurately, fairly, and in balanced. Do not allow sexism, racism, and religion become part of discussion. Stay with the facts and address the issues.

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