The Most Bizarre Journalistic Malpractice Yet?

It’s a contender, anyway: the Associated Press claims that Sarah Palin’s criticism of Barack Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers was racist!

The AP’s article is an “analysis” by one Douglass K. Daniel, described as “a writer and editor with the Washington bureau of The Associated Press.” It has to be read to be believed:

By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and doesn’t see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign. And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret. …

Her reference to Obama’s relationship with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground, was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were “pals” or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career. …

Palin’s words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee “palling around” with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn’t see their America?

In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers’ day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.

Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as “not like us” is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.

Most troubling, however, is how allowing racism to creep into the discussion serves McCain’s purpose so well. …

John McCain occasionally looks back on decisions with regret. He has apologized for opposing a holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. He has apologized for refusing to call for the removal of a Confederate flag from South Carolina’s Capitol.

When the 2008 campaign is over McCain might regret appeals such as Palin’s perhaps more so if he wins.

When the McCain campaign ran an ad that had a white woman in it, it was denounced as racist. When it ran an ad that had an African-American man (Franklin Raines) in it, it was denounced as racist. Now the McCain campaign links Obama to a white man, the former terrorist, and still anti-American, Bill Ayers. That’s racist too. I think we’ve exhausted just about all the possibilities. The only non-racist thing McCain can do, apparently, is concede the election.

There once was a time when the Associated Press was a respected news-gathering agency. Some years ago, it began to abandon that mission in order to transform itself into a liberal advocacy organization. That transformation is now pretty much complete.

2008 will be remembered, I think, as the year in which the collapse of traditional American media became irreversible. The AP has plenty of company.

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