This piece in the Washington Post literally left my mouth hanging open

September 20th, 2008


….the Washington Post accuses one of John McCain’s newest campaign ads of stretching the truth.

But, viagra sales salve in the very same article, viagra usa click they admit the commercial was 100% accurate AND that either the Obama campaign is now lying about the ad or the Washington Post’s own reporter is a liar.

And yet, John McCain is somehow at fault.

I’ve got to honest with you guys, I’m absolutely astonished at the audacity of this

Linking Obama to Ex-Fannie Mae Chief Is a Stretch

QUOTE FROM McCaign COMMERCIAL: “Obama has no background in economics. Who advises him? The Post says it’s Franklin Raines, for ‘advice on mortgage and housing policy.’ Shocking. Under Raines, Fannie Mae committed ‘extensive financial fraud.’ Raines made millions. Fannie Mae collapsed. Taxpayers? Stuck with the bill.”

An already nasty presidential election campaign is getting nastier. The meltdown on Wall Street has touched off frantic attempts by both the McCain and Obama camps to secure political advantage and indulge in guilt by association. Over the past 24 hours, both campaigns have issued what are, in effect, video news releases attempting to show that the other side’s “advisers” are somehow responsible for the crisis. The latest McCain attack is particularly dubious.


The McCain video attempts to link Obama to Franklin D. Raines, the former chief executive of the bankrupt mortgage giant, Fannie Mae. It then shows a photograph of an elderly female taxpayer who has supposedly been “stuck with the bill” as a result of the “extensive financial fraud” at Fannie Mae.

The Obama campaign issued a statement by Raines on Thursday night insisting, “I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters.” Obama spokesman Bill Burton went a little further, saying in an e-mail that the campaign had “neither sought nor received” advice from Raines “on any matter.”

Remember these denials, I’ll get back to them.

So what evidence does the McCain campaign have for the supposed Obama-Raines connection? It is pretty flimsy, but it is not made up completely out of whole cloth. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers points to three items in the Washington Post in July and August. It turns out that the three items (including an editorial) all rely on the same single conversation, between Raines and a Washington Post business reporter, Anita Huslin, who wrote a profile of the discredited Fannie Mae boss that appeared July 16. The profile reported that Raines, who retired from Fannie Mae four years ago, had “taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.”

OK, so they just admitted that the claim in McCain’s ad is 100% accurate. (Even though they apparently think their own reporting is “pretty flimsy.”) And remember that denial the Obama campaign issued? Well, if the Post’s own earlier stories are right, than it is the OBAMA campaign that’s lying.

Since this has now become a campaign issue, I asked Huslin to provide the exact circumstances of that passage. She said that she was chatting with Raines during the photo shoot, and asked “if he was engaged at all with the Democrats’ quest for the White House. He said that he had gotten a couple of calls from the Obama campaign. I asked him about what, and he said, ‘Oh, general housing, economy issues.’ (‘Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific?’ I asked, and he said ‘no.’)”

By Raines’s own account, he took a couple of calls from someone on the Obama campaign, and he or she had general discussions about economic issues. I have asked both Raines and the Obama people for more details on these calls.


The McCain campaign is clearly exaggerating wildly in attempting to depict Raines as a close adviser to Obama on “housing and mortgage policy.” If we are to believe Raines, he did have a couple of telephone conversations with someone in the Obama campaign. But that hardly makes him an adviser to the candidate himself — and certainly not in the way depicted in the McCain video release.

So how is this a wild exaggeration? McCain’s commercial uses the exact quote from the Post’s articles.

That the Post has the balls to accuse the McCain campaign of stretching the truth when the entire commercial is based on articles that ran in their own paper goes a long way towards explaining why people think the mainstream media is completely in the tank for the Democrats this election season.

I can’t tell you how hard it was for me not to curse in this post. I promise I was swearing up a storm when I was reading the original article.

Entry Filed under: Media

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Debunked  |  September 20th, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Asking somebody for general advice once or twice isn’t quite the same thing as that person being an “advisor for” you. If that is the qualifications for somebody to be one’s advisor, I apparently have a ton of advisors.

    They also didn’t say the claim was false. They said that the hard link McCain portrayed was exaggerated and flimsy. You know as well as anybody that that commercial was meant to link Obama directly to Raines, when no real connection exists between the two.

    No, I would say they’re trying to keep the link on a realistic level rather than the McCain’s attempted portrayal that Obama is basing his policies on the advice of this failed economic advisor.

    As far as “mainstream media completely in the tank for the Democrats” you should note that article didn’t even bring up the fact McCain’s campaign manager has a direct Fannie Mae connection who received money from the company in the past.

    I would expect if they were completely “in the Democratic pockets” they would have mentioned that connection on top of the rebuttal.

    Afterall, it’s not like McCain has never released ads that deliberately lied, mislead or exaggerated claims from another source…

  • 2. elliot  |  September 20th, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    The commercial never called Raines “an advisor.”

    And I bet your standard would be different if it came out that the head of Exxon Mobile talked to George Bush just once on the phone and “advised” him to invade Iraq for the oil.

    I’m not saying that Raines told the Obama campaign something similar.

    I am saying that the ad truthfully reflects the story in the Washington Post. If the Post’s story was wrong, that doesn’t make the commercial based on it a baseless attack.

    I’ve got to tell you, if I was running the McCain campaign’s advertising, I would say “no more questionable ads. I want stuff we can point to when the press comes asking about it.”

    If, after saying that, my agency came to me and showed me this concept for a commercial and then showed me the quote from the Post it was based on, I’d say, “Cool. I’m not sure we can get much better grounding than that, but let’s actually quote the Post to cover our butts.”

    Of course, I’d be making the same mistake someone at the McCain campaign actually did: relying on the integrity and accuracy of the mainstream media.

  • 3. Debunked  |  September 20th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    The quote earlier this year in the Post stated:

    [Raines] had “taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.”

    The reporter herself said that when she spoke with Raines, he said the questions from Obama pertained to:

    “Oh, general housing, economy issues.’ (’Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific?’ I asked, and he said ‘no.’)”

    So, yes, I’ll grant that the first quote that the McCain camp pointed to from the Post is misleading.

    However, their ad was basically trying to insinuate that Raines was a prime adviser to Obama on economic issues. And that’s the point that was stretching or exaggerating the truth. Yet again, if you look at the Post’s “Pinocchio test” rating system, two Pinocchio’s means it was an exaggeration or an omission of facts. Which is what they gave that ad.

    Was the Post partially to blame for a misleading statement? Yes. Was the McCain camp also to blame for exaggerating that statement? Also, yes.

  • 4. elliot  |  September 20th, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    I think we’re just about on common ground.

    I do think the commercial is meant to give an exaggerated impression.

    (I believe that’s what all political advertising does.)

    But if I were the Post, I think I would have had the humility to say, “you know, I see where the McCain camp could have thought that from our own reporting. But our reporting was a less than accurate picture of Raine’s relationship with the Obama campaign and, thus, so is the McCain campaign’s commercial.”

  • 5. folkbum  |  September 21st, 2008 at 9:19 am

    For another take, try here, where we learn among other things that “At least 20 McCain fundraisers have lobbied on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” and “McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis was hired — after running McCain’s failed 2000 presidential campaign — to head up a group called the Homeownership Alliance, a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac advocacy group.”

    I have to say, it takes a lot of balls for McCain to go after Obama for a guy who “took a couple of calls” when McCain’s own ties are considerably stronger and deeper.

  • 6. Nick2  |  September 21st, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    A bit off topic but Ace is teasing some story about Obama’s campaign manager Axlerod

    Well Ace’s tease:

    “The basics? Axelrod’s astroturfing. An attempt to get a blatantly dishonest anti-Palin ad to go “viral” on YouTube. Gross deception in pumping out fake “amateur grassroots” ads which are really cooked up by a big PR firm strongly connected to David Axelrod and Obama’s officially-acknowledged ads. ”

    link to Ace

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