Accuracy in Media

Helen Cooper at the New York Times offered readers yesterday 585 words. . .about Barack Obama’s hair.

She writes,

“WASHINGTON — Well, that didn’t take long. Just 44 days into the job, and President Obama is going gray.

It happens to all of them, of course — Bill Clinton still had about half a head of brown hair when he took office but was a silver fox two years later, and George W. Bush went from salt and pepper to just salt in what seemed like a blink of an eye….

…..Mr. Obama’s graying is still of the flecked variety, and appears to wax and wane depending on when he gets his hair cut, which he does about every two weeks. His barber, who goes by only one name, Zariff, takes umbrage with bloggers who alternately claim Mr. Obama, 47, is dyeing his hair gray (to appear more distinguished) or dyeing it black (to appear younger). “I can tell you that his hair is 100 percent natural,” Zariff said. “He wouldn’t get it colored.”

And for all of his 16 years giving Mr. Obama his “quo vadis” haircut — black parlance from the 1960s for close-cut locks — Zariff said he is not about to start ribbing Mr. Obama. “We do not tease about the gray at all,” he said.…”

From reading the article, we can find that Cooper conducted (at least) four interviews on this prestigious topic and went back into the video archives to find a quote in which Obama refers to his own ever-grayer locks.

And today, Peter Baker provides us with even more verbose, rapt coverage. . .of Obama’s teleprompter use:

“Presidents have been using teleprompters for more than half a century, but none relied on them as extensively as Mr. Obama has so far. While presidents typically have used them for their most important speeches to the nation — an inauguration, a State of the Union or an Oval Office address — Mr. Obama uses them for everyday routine announcements, and even for the opening statement at his news conference.

He used them during a visit to a Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Ill. He used them to make brief remarks at the opening of his “fiscal responsibility summit.”…..

…For Mr. Obama, a teleprompter means message discipline, sticking close to his intended words. Every president uses prepared remarks, of course, often reading from paper or note cards. But while some of his predecessors liked to extemporize, Mr. Obama prefers the message to be just so….”

In this 1,124 word piece of “balanced” reporting, Baker notes important occasions on which our new President has used the device, his first noted occasion of teleprompter use (the 2004 Democratic convention), and when Obama decides to turn the device on (speeches) and off (question and answers).

In addition, Baker quotes four opinions on Obama’s teleprompter reliance and a statement from the White House thereupon, summarizing the teleprompter successes and gaffes throughout the careers of past Presidents.

Baker’s article made it onto the front page of the website today.

Doesn’t the New York Times have real news to be covering?







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