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I agree that Barack Obama’s remarks about Pennsylvania voters, however badly stated, have been hyped out of proportion by the media, the G.O.P., and Hillary Clinton. The Daily Show explains it best:
What I can’t understand is the equally hysterical criticism of Mayhill Fowler, the blogger for the Huffington Post’s OffTheBus.net who originally reported Obama’s remarks, made at a campaign fundraiser.
As Marc Cooper, editorial coordinator of OffTheBus.net put it, “It was indeed a fund-raiser to which the press was not invited. Or if you wish, it was closed to press. Therefore it wasn’t on or off the record. Off the record is when journalists consensually agree to witness or hear something on the condition they not report it…Most if not all press was kept out of the room but Mayhill was invited in. She was under no obligation not to report.”
Fowler, whose presence at the fundraiser was known to Obama’s staff, did nothing other than report what she saw and heard. Would those now attacking her be doing the same if she’d reported controversial remarks made by John McCain at one of his fundraisers? And do we really want to accept the principle that candidates for the president should be able to block public scrutiny of their fundraising events?
Fowler did the right thing, no matter how dumb the debate that ensued.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”