A CNN reporter this week didn’t seem to know or care that a fake photo showing a bikini-clad, rifle-toting Sarah Palin had been widely debunked days earlier as a fraud, the latest in series of incidents involving apparent misstatements or inaccurate reporting by the news network.
“(John) McCain has been really good about painting (Barack) Obama as this lightweight … They don’t want that to come back on Sarah Palin, and people say, yes, she looks good in a bikini clutching an AK-47, but is she equipped to run the country?” CNN’s Lola Ogunnaike said in response to a question on the network’s “Reliable Sources” show, which aired Sunday.
Ogunnaike’s remarks, which came in response to a question by host Howard Kurtz about whether Palin’s status as a political celebrity might undercut Republican efforts to portray the vice presidential nominee as a serious, reform-minded governor, were posted on CNN’s Web site and have since been reported and discussed on numerous other independent sites.
CNN correspondents and analysts have also recently misrepresented Palin’s stance on incorporating creationism into Alaska’s school curriculum and falsely reported that she cut funds for people with special needs in the state budget.
Regarding the doctored “bikini” photo, neither Kurtz, a “Washington Post” columnist, nor anyone else on the “Sources” discussion panel ever corrected Ogunnaike by pointing out that the picture was a fake.
Speaking about Ogunnaike and the doctored photo, Kurtz told FOXNews.com on Wednesday that he figured everyone knew the photo was a fake.
“I thought that Lola was joking around since the bikini was so obviously fake,” Kurtz said. “I thought she was making a lighthearted reference to it.
“Lola is a very sharp former New York Times reporter so I seriously doubt that she bought into the notion that the governor of Alaska had in fact posed in a bathing suit carrying an assault rifle,” he added.
“Lola’s comments were made in the context of the tabloid rumors that have emerged since Sarah Palin’s nomination to the ticket,” a CNN spokeswoman said. “She regrets that she didn’t make it more clear that the photo was not only a rumor but a hoax.”
The infamous fake bikini shot first appeared during the early days of the Republican convention. But it was widely debunked within 24 hours, with bloggers and others quickly exposing the fraud by finding the original shot, reportedly taken in 2004 in Athens, Ga., by an amateur photographer of his then-girlfriend.
FOXNews.com was among the news outlets to report the fake.
During the show, Ogunnaike went on to compliment Us Weekly’s coverage of Palin, which has been widely attacked as unfair by critics and reportedly thousands of Us Weekly readers.
“I have to say,” Ogunnaike said, “I read the ‘Us Weekly’ story, and they were actually pretty good. They actually did some pretty good journalism there. … And this is a bigger story here. … They can’t afford to ignore this story because this story drives magazine sales. And that’s the bottom line, that’s what they care about. So if you throw Palin on the cover and you have the words ‘Baby Scandal,’ they know that’s going to sell magazines.”
Ogunnaike’s remarks are among several apparent misstatements made recently by CNN reporters.
On Monday night, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Palin wants “to have creationism taught in public schools.” But numerous stories –- including CNN’s own reporting from last week — have noted that Palin has made no effort to try and include creationism in the state school curriculum.
“I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class,” Palin has said. “It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”
The morning after Toobin’s remarks on creationism, CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin reported that Palin vetoed funds not only for so-called “earmarks,” but “even for people with disabilities.” This was an apparent reference to a charge discussed during a Sept. 4 interview, in which CNN’s Soledad O’Brien pressed a McCain spokeswoman on another accusation brought by Palin critics.
O’Brien twice referred to the charge that while governor, Palin cut the state’s special needs budget by 62 percent.
“Those advocates have said, as a woman who is now a mother of a special-needs child, she’s not fighting — she’s cut the budget by 62 percent since she came into office, and doesn’t that show a contradiction?” O’Brien asked McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace, according to transcript available on CNN’s Web site.
But Factcheck.org, a non-partisan group affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, is among those that have reported that Palin “did not cut funding for special needs education in Alaska by 62 percent.”
In fact, the group said in a posting published on Newsweek’s Web site, “She didn’t cut it at all. She tripled per-pupil funding over just three years.”
You're SOOOO right. Someone should really rise up and fight against Political Correctness and the Race/Gender Cards of mock-offense and over-sensitivity so often used these days by some as a political weapon.
I am sure I can count on good Democrats like you Bitonti to lead that change against Political Correctness and Mock Outrage. I salute you Bitonti!