Saturday, May 1, 2010

National Enquirer's Nasty Obama Affair Rumor


You know, I am not one of those people rushing to embrace gossip from the National Enquirer just because it broke the John Edwards affair because I think we should look more at its long history of spreading malicious rumors rather than the one or two times where it's gotten its facts right. Consequently, while not surprised that the NE is sharing gossip, claiming that President Barack Obama is having an affair with a former campaign aide, Vera Baker, I think this Obama rumor is just that--rumor--a sensational tidbit published to sell papers. Baker denies the seedy tale.

My distaste for the Enquirer and how it compiles its stories is not news.

However, today I consider that the potential damage of rumors spread by the Enquirer has grown. Having broke the Edwards story, the Enquirer has become more dangerous. When it spreads rumors today, otherwise smart people who would have dismissed its stories in the past, now may believe them because they think that gossip sheet's become a credible news source. But it's not. It's not. It's not. It's not!

And I will keep saying that thinking people should not accept the National Enquirer as a reliable news source because its journalism ethics stink, and I'm snobby that way. Therefore, I don't care what the Pulitzer committee says to stroke the NE.

TMZ.com seems to be more careful about its stories. While it did run that photo of Obama last year, "Baby Got Barack," I've seen nothing yet from the website saying the president's cheating on his wife, Michelle. Neither has Joy-Ann at The Reid Report seen any bites from TMZ on this one. She takes a look at how Mediate.com has been sucked into this mess.

One of Mediate's contributors, Frances Martel, recounted the Enquirer story as though it was fact. Now Mediate's on the defensive. Joy says Martel is a "former College Republican," and she calls the young thing Mediate's "Ann Coulter."

Ah, the conservative connection? Naturally some of them are eager to give the Enquirer props here. Field Negro takes a swing at Matt Drudge for reporting this story. If you don't believe politics plays into the matter, consider that Drudge claims "anti-Obama operatives" area offering $1 million for proof of the affair.

Back in 2008, someone commenting at the Democratic Underground felt that even gossip tabloid coverage may be politically motivated sometimes.

But let's leave conservatives alone on this one for a while and remain focused on the National Enquirer's history of thinly-sourced stories. I'm old enough to recall Carol Burnett's libel lawsuit against the rag. She won, and libel cases are hard to win, especially if you're a public figure. How much have they published that's false but people simply don't have the patience and resources to sue? Yep, one accurate, groundbreaking story (Edwards), does not a reputation make, especially not with the rest of its horrible reporting lining birdcages in our rear view mirrors.

At Gather, Nick Faraday is very skeptical. He writes that "it shows how:
most of the stuff you have to put up with being the President has nothing to do with actually being the president! There are too many partisan games to be played, too much money to be made! Why not actually focus on if the guy is doing a good job, instead of wondering if Obama had an affair with Vera Baker?
I just don't believe the Enquirer rumor. I've swallowed hook, line and singer the great love story that the first couple projects. It appeals to the last crumbly romantic bone in my body, I suppose. I just don't think he'd cheat on Michelle Obama, which would also be a betrayal of his daughters' trust. He's smarter than that.

Obama could prove me wrong. He's human, but until I've been proven wrong, I think the National Enquirer story is garbage.

In the meantime, John Edwards's affair won't go away. Oprah had his mistress, Rielle Hunter, on her show last week.

Update: Thank you, Mom-101. That Village Voice assessment is so solid that I had to add it here as a link.
The lingering urge to trust the Enquirer after their brush with the truth in the John Edwards affair has all but been squandered on this recycled story, and it didn't even have a chance to grow legs beyond the weekend. It will be interesting to watch whether Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, et al. dare to touch this thing with the Enquirer, of all places, already issuing what resembles a correction in the world of "real journalism." (VV)
False alarm indeed.

1 comment:

Mom101 said...

Oh, give me a break. Just because they got one out of millions of stories right doesn't make them legitimate.

According to the Village Voice, they've retracted the story.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2010/05/national_enquir_1.php