Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Look before you leap

Here's a lesson in how not to go with our first reaction when hearing a news report that pisses you off.

As some of you may have heard, Michelle Obama, the wife of Barack Obama, has been called out in some reports for allegedly taking a swipe at Hillary Clinton's personal life. Here's one such report:

At another stop, in Atlantic, Michelle said she travels with her husband in part "to model what it means to have family values," adding "if you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House." She didn't elaborate, but it could be interpreted as a swipe at the Clintons.

Now I had heard that the Obama campaign denied that this was a swipe at Hillary, but I couldn't see how it could be interpreted any other way. If she wasn't criticizing Hillary then who exactly was she criticizing. And if she was criticizing Hillary than it was a pretty stupid criticism since the Clinton's ran the White House just fine while they were in the midst of their family troubles.

Thankfully I didn't leap on this and post about it because this is a classic example of where context matters. Here's the full quote, as released by the Obama campaign:

"Our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I'm home before bedtime."

She was talking about her own family!

The reporter who originally highlighted this either wasn't paying attention or just wanted to find some excuse to manufacture a "cat fight" where there wasn't any. Because only that could excuse taking what was an obvious comment about her own family and turning it into an attack on someone else.

And don't get me started on the news channel (can't remember which one) who headlined this story last night with the chryon "Oh no she didn't!"


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