No fury like Findlay scorned

Yesterday in this space, I praised the Washington Post's story on misinformation circulating about Barack Obama in Findlay, Ohio.  But the Findlay Courier didn't like the story one bit. Here, via Romenesko, is the heart of the paper's editorial on the subject:

[Reporter Eli] Saslow crafted a picture of credulous, rumor-swallowing bigots, even though several of his interviewees said they just weren't sure what to believe.

In what's perhaps the most offensive sentence in this entirely offensive story, Saslow wrote: "When people on College Street started hearing rumors about Obama — who looked different from other politicians and often talked about change — they easily believed the nasty stories about an outsider."

But nobody he quoted said anything about Obama's race or appearance. Nobody mentioned his calls for change. And Don LeMaster's comment a couple paragraphs later is a strong indication that he doesn't "easily believe" whatever he hears. He said, "(Obama's) a good speaker, but you've got to dig deeper than that for the truth. Politicians tell you anything. You have to look beyond the surface, and then there are some real lies."

To us, that's a fairly rational viewpoint, but not to the Post.

So: are the good people of Findlay just a bunch of healthily skeptical "heartland" voters who've been wronged by the elite liberal media?

Not quite. Here, for example, is the sentence after the sentence pegged by the Findlay Courier as "most offensive":

"I think Obama would be a disaster, and there's a lot of reasons," said [Leroy] Pollard, explaining the rumors he had heard about the candidate from friends he goes camping with. "I understand he's from Africa, and that the first thing he's going to do if he gets into office is bring his family over here, illegally. He's got that racist [pastor] who practically raised him, and then there's the Muslim thing. He's just not presidential material, if you ask me."

Note that, contrary to what the Findlay Courier is claiming, Pollard does say something about Obama's "race or appearance." Namely, he says Obama's from Africa, and will kick off his presidency by illegally importing his African family into the U.S.

Note, too, that Pollard makes one point that stands up to scrutiny--i.e., his description of Obama's now-former pastor as racist. The rest (with the exception of the "presidential material" assessment, which is open for debate) is bunk.

Along those same lines, consider this:

Does [Jim Peterman] trust a local newspaper article that details Obama's Christian faith? Or his friend Leroy Pollard, a devoted family man so convinced Obama is a radical Muslim that he threatened to stop talking to his daughter when he heard she might vote for him?

"I'll admit that I probably don't follow all of the election news like maybe I should," Peterman said. "I haven't read his books or studied up more than a little bit. But it's hard to ignore what you hear when everybody you know is saying it. These are good people, smart people, so can they really all be wrong?....

"I don't know. The whole thing just scares me," Peterman said. "I'm almost starting to feel like the best choice is not voting at all."

 And this:

Said Jeanette Collins, a 77-year-old who lives across the street: "All I know for sure about Obama is that we're not ready for him."

 And this:

[T]hose who have pushed the truth in Findlay have been rewarded with little that resembles progress. Gerri Kish, a 66-year-old born in Hawaii, read both of Obama's autobiographies. She has close friends, she said, who still refuse to believe her when she swears Obama is Christian. Then she hands them the books, and they refuse to read them.

The Findlay Courier editorial closes with a request for an apology and a rewrite from reporter Eli Saslow. But unless Saslow fabricated quotes or anecdotes, he's got nothing to apologize for.

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