It seemed to be a perfect example of a tasteless political fib: Michelle Obama invoking a heart wrenching but untrue story about her daughter Sasha's medical woes. A conservative blogger concluded:So what does this intrepid CBS reporter use as evidence? Why the White House website, of course. So let's have a look at what she said.
"Today Mrs. Obama says (Sasha) was four months old but fortunately did not have meningitis. Yet just eight days ago her husband said she was three months old and was diagnosed with meningitis." One blog used the opportunity to reprint the Obama-as-Joker photo, HotAir.com called it "serious incompetence" on the Obamas' part, it appeared on Breitbart.tv, and the crowd over at FreeRepublic.com dubbed the president a "chronic liar." There's just one problem with this nice little gotcha story. There's no evidence that either Obama lied.
I will never forget the time eight years ago when Sasha was four months that she would not stop crying. And she was not a crier, so we knew something was wrong. So we fortunately were able to take her to our pediatrician that next morning. He examined her and same something's wrong. We didn't know what. But he told us that she could have meningitis. So we were terrified. He said, get to the emergency room right away.She does not say she had meningitis. She doesn't definitely say she didn't, but why would the NY Times say she did not? Maybe the CBS News reporter should ask them instead of bashing us.
And fortunately for us, things worked out, because she is now the Sasha that we all know and love today -- (laughter) -- who is causing me great -- excitement. (Laughter.)
Here again is Barack Obama. Note at the 2:40 mark the president says:
"when our youngest daughter Sasha was diagnosed with meningitis at three months old".
Compare that with the NY Times report we linked in the original story.
In her speech, Mrs. Obama also told the story of how her daughter Sasha would not stop crying when she was 4 months old. A doctor’s visit revealed she might have meningitis; she ultimately did not, but the illness produced a scare.So all we did was point out the obvious: Barack Obama claimed his daughter was diagnosed with meningitis at three months old, while the NY Times report says she was four months old and did not have meningitis. Oh, but we're supposed to be the ones factually challenged, according to CBS News. That's CBS News, of all places. You remember them: It's fake, but accurate.
Maybe if Declan Mccullagh wants to do his homework he ought to call the reporter at the New York Times instead of taking a cheapshot at conservative blogs for something we pointed out three weeks ago. Better yet, maybe Mccullagh and the rest of the "mainstream" media should have noticed the obvious differences in their stories last month when the rest of us pointed this out. But no, they can't do that. Instead they have to take a swipe at the folks doing the work the media refuses to do.
Instapundit and Hot Air link. Thanks!
Ed Morrissey notes:
Normally, McCullagh does better work than this, but this is just embarrassing. We specifically included the New York Times link in our blog posts and quoted Zeleny. It wasn’t just a comparison of the two speeches. Either McCullagh is too unschooled to read, or he deliberately omitted it to tell his own tall tale about bloggers. I’d say this effort should win McCullagh the Mary Mapes Award at CBS.Ouch.
Next time, read the whole post and click the links, Tiffany Network.
Update: By the way, in case you're inclined to think Mrs. Obama isn't prone to embellishment and exaggeration, look no further than this clip from her appeal to the IOC the other day.
Update: An alert reader has pointed out the CBS News article has been altered without noting an update or the fact they've changed their story. I don't have a screen grab of the original or a cached version, but we have enough evidence. First, the commenter says:
The CBS report has now been updated apparently (without noting that it has been changed).
Now it says that Zeleny's account is incorrect and that Michelle didn't say the diagnosis was mistaken. Video of Michelle is provided.
So even though the bloggers' error results from relying on the NYT, CBS is still attacking them rather than the NYT.
A separate issue is whether CBS has independently confirmed that Sasha had Meningitis.
New NEW 10.06.09 - 12:08 pm Indeed, the new and improved CBS story now says:
By contrast, when Michelle Obama gave a speech about health care a few days later, on September 18, the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny wrote a blog post for the Times' "Prescriptions" blog saying: In her speech, Mrs. Obama also told the story of how her daughter Sasha would not stop crying when she was 4 months old. A doctor's visit revealed she might have meningitis; she ultimately did not, but the illness produced a scare. (Emphasis added)This was not part of Mccullagh's original report, which is why we made sure to point out our original link to the New York Times back on September 18. As we said originally, had he simply done the legwork and noted where we got the information from, he'd have saved himself from his own beclowning. After this was pointed out today, Mccullagh apparently realized he'd been busted and rewrote his article, the height of duplicity.
Indeed, Ed Morrissey noted this in his post this morning as well.
There’s just one problem with CBS’ reporting. They never address the New York Times report that said this:So in an effort to demonstrate bloggers aren't telling the truth, the CBS News reporter alters his own report, without telling the readers the truth.
In her speech, Mrs. Obama also told the story of how her daughter Sasha would not stop crying when she was 4 months old. A doctor’s visit revealed she might have meningitis; she ultimately did not, but the illness produced a scare.
You can't make this stuff up. Unless, of course, you work for CBS News, where making things up and altering your articles without informing the readers is apparently standard operating procedure.
Ace links. Thanks!
Update: After exchanging emails with Mccullagh, he insists he didn't change his story, so I'll take his word for it, such as it is, so we'll stand corrected on that point. Still, he ignores the larger point which is I used the NY Times as the source that said the Obama child did not have meningitis. I suggested again he check with the writer from the Times. Also, by claiming the original story here was incorrect he disregards the differing statements of the Obamas.
Update: Mccullagh updates himself.
Update 6:35pm ET Tuesday: It appears as though at least one thin-skinned blogger doesn't like it when his mistakes are pointed out. Over at JammieWearingFool, you can see a report saying, incorrectly, that my article didn't mention the New York Times: "This was not part of McCullagh's original report." Of course it was: I haven't updated last night's story until now. After leaving up the incorrect report all day, JammieWearingFool finally sports an update saying "we'll stand corrected on that point" but defending everything else.As you can see in my previous update I clarified that point and did so several hours ago. Unlike Mccullagh, I have a life and don't have the time to spend all day glued to a keyboard. Still, Mccullagh refuses to make any effort to question the inconsistencies in the two wildly different tales woven by the Obamas.
As for being thin-skinned, he emailed me to make the assertion that I suspect him of being an Obama suck-up, which I never did, either here or in any emails to him. So not only is Mccullagh a lazy reporter who refuses to make any effort to contact the NY Times reporter, he's also seems paranoid and fancies himself an amateur mindreader. Maybe the next time he analyzes blog posts 18 days after the fact he'll do a little more homework. I pointed out my error, but he apparently can't bring himself to do so.