Ben Smith, Obama’s Opposition to Born Alive, and the Media

A strange thing happened during last week’s debate. One of the candidates actually brought up what could be President Obama’s least covered but most controversial on the record stance ever. The candidate was Newt Gingrich and Obama’s stance was against the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act:

After that moment though something a bit more predictable happened. Ben Smith, formerly of Politico and now the head of Buzzfeed’s political reporting operation, immediately tweeted out a defense of President Obama by lumping him in with a larger group of critics:

Knowing full well that the national version of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which was identical in language to the 2003 Illinois version that Obama killed in committee, passed the House without recorded opposition and the Senate by unanimous consent I wasn’t about to let that defense go unchallenged. So I tweeted back to Smith and called him out on what he was saying. Drew M joined in as well and Smith ended up responding.

Smith first claimed that the federal Born Alive Act and the Illinois version that Obama lead the opposition to were not identical. However, when confronted he said that he “misremembered” and changed his defense of Obama to the claim that, though identical to the national bill, the state bill would have a different impact.

This would not be the last time Smith’s arguments changed through the course of our discussion. The next change would come in his defense of the media’s handling of this story. Or, rather, in whether or not the media covered this story much at all.

During an email exchange, brought on by Smith’s request for a link to the transcript of Obama’s speech against the Born Alive Act on the Illinois Senate floor, Smith took two contradictory positions on how the media covered the stance. At first Smith claimed that “this was pretty intensely reported on in ’08” but later, after a detailed exchange about the media coverage, Smith claimed that Obama hadn’t broken with his party and therefore the story “didn’t get much coverage”.

Thankfully Ben Smith has agreed to let me publish our email exchange so others can see exactly how he rationalizes the utter lack of coverage on this story. I think this exchange is informative not only because Smith contradicts himself and reveals inclined he is to defend the president but also because his thinking is, more than likely, shared by many reporters in the liberal media. I highly doubt an exchange like this with most other reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, or CBS News, where they willing to be as honest as Smith was, would have turned out any different.

I have published the transcripts of our email exchange here. I’d urge you to read the entire back and forth to get the full context of our conversation as well as a full understanding of why this issue and the media’s mishandling of it are so important.

Illinois House May Vote on Blago Impeachment Next Week

According to the Associated Press:

The Illinois House could vote as early as next week on whether to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The Illinois House has bumped up its schedule and will meet several days next week. They had been set to reconvene on Jan. 12.

This comes as a little bit of a shock to me. After they showed no political back bone a couple weeks back I figured they would never actually vote to impeach Blagojevich. Maybe the Burris appointment and the circus that followed it has made them think twice?

But I still doubt this will come to anything execpt maybe another tent in the circus. You see, while it only takes a majority of the house to impeach it takes two thirds of the Senate to convict. Thats a pretty big feet for a state congress that couldn’t (or wouldn’t) even pass a bill taking the appointment power out of Blagojevich’s hands.

We shall see what happens…

blago target

(Picture from Chicago Magazine)

Burris Throws Blagojevich Under the Bus

blagojevich and burrisThe day after the awkward, poorly staged, and all around strange press conference where Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich defied everyone and choose former Illinois Attorney Gen. Roland Burris to replace Barack Obama in the Senate Burris has gone and pulled an Obama by completely trashing Blago.

Here’s how CNN put it:

The man appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat said Wednesday his appointment to the position is legal, despite the charges against the governor.

Former Illinois Attorney Gen. Roland Burris said Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty, even though his behavior “is reprehensible.”

“I don’t look upon the governor’s problems as my problems. I look at the governor’s problems as his problems,” Burris said.

Ouch… but if that wasn’t enough, it gets even better. In the same enthusiastic manor he accepted the appointment from Blago, Burris is now doing a back flip to support the current attorney general’s attempts to impeach Blago: Continue reading “Burris Throws Blagojevich Under the Bus”