Accuracy in Media

Soledad O'BrienOn Wednesday morning’s Starting Point on CNN, panelists Will Cain and John Berman called out host Soledad O’Brien for taking out of context Fox News president Roger Ailes’ observation that President Obama is “lazy.”

O’Brien began the segment by reading a quote from Zev Chafets’ new biography on Ailes, in which he referred to Obama as being “lazy:”

Obama’s the one who never worked a day in his life. He never earned a penny that wasn’t public money. How many fund-raisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf? I wish I had that kind of time. He’s lazy, but the media won’t report that.

But she left out the next part of the excerpt, which changed the context of what Ailes had said:

He noticed my arched eyebrows and added, ‘I didn’t come up with that. Obama said that, to Barbara Walters.’ (What Obama said was that he feels a laziness in himself that he attributes to his laid-back upbringing in Hawaii.)

After another panelist called the comments “not nice,” Cain and Berman jumped in to set the record straight:

Cain: “Everyone’s latching on to the fact that he called the President lazy…Roger Ailes did go on to say that ‘I’m only quoting from the president directly.’ He talked about an interview that President Obama gave to Barbara Walters where he said, ‘I grew up in Hawaii, which is pretty laid back.’ Roger Ailes wasn’t coming up with that on his own. And he made a point of making that.”

O’Brien: “Okay, so the ‘pretty laid back’ to ‘lazy’ is a little bit of a leap to me.”

Berman: “Barack Obama used the word ‘lazy.”

O’Brien:  “Oh, interesting. I didn’t know that.”

Cain: “He did. Barack Obama said he feels a laziness in himself that he attributes to his laid back upbringing in Hawaii.”

O’Brien: “Hmm. Interesting.”

Interesting? It was more than interesting. It was revealing because the mainstream media have been jumping all over Ailes for the “lazy” comment with some, like Van Jones, calling him a racist, without mentioning the fact that Ailes was using Obama’s own words.

O’Brien had a golden opportunity to use her new found knowledge and call out her mainstream media colleagues for their blatant misreporting, but instead chose to give them an undeserved pass.

No wonder CNN is dumping her.

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