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House Aides Push Back On Obama 'Symbol' Quote

By Jonathan Weisman
House Democratic aides are pushing back hard on a quote reported from Barack Obama's meeting on Capitol Hill last night, saying that when the presumptive Democratic nominee said, "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America," he was actually trying to deflect attention from himself.

No tape of the event exists and no one is denying the quote. But one leadership aide said the full quote put it into a different context. According to that aide, Obama said, "It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign -- that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol."

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 30, 2008; 9:34 AM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Is anyone else tired of voting for the least dislikeable candidate? Last election I wrote in "Giant Douche" and I'm a registered republican. These people suck.

Posted by: bigdogpaul | August 14, 2008 3:20 AM | Report abuse

pns Een plaatje zegt alles, toch ? ggq Het volledige rapport is hier te vinden. Lees natuurlijk g de blogposting. v u
Thanks for interesting post! oor
[url=]ламинированный парке[/url] 1w

Posted by: ламинат | August 13, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

a Een plaatje zegt alles, toch ? a Het volledige rapport is hier te vinden. Lees natuurlijk u de blogposting. m j
[url=]ламинат и паркет [/url] 3b

Posted by: ламинат | August 12, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"Nancy Pelosi, a sure symbol of impotence"

Possibly the most feckless politician ever.

Posted by: Chuckamok | July 30, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Why does the Washington Post buy the GOP spin so easily? This is shameful.

Posted by: Jeanne S | July 30, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I would venture to guess that half the Obama supporters here are paid bloggers. Demand a retraction? LOL! How arrogant and elitist. Just like your candidate. Retract what? He said it. And I don't care in WHAT context, it was extremely presumptious to say. The few 'kids' on here blogging under several names yet saying the same thing... you think we don't know this?

Posted by: Leigh | July 30, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

House Aides Push Back On Obama 'Symbol' Quote
By Jonathan Weisman
Posted at 9:34 AM ET on Jul 30, 2008  |

This is selective and false. This piece was NOT posted at 9:34 AM ET.

In fact this is the third edition of this I've seen today, who knows how many I may have missed. This type of deception only compounds the original error.

Posted by: smallddem | July 30, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

The WP owes it to the people that still bother with reading/buying their paper, a full retraction, front page, above the fold, and then fire Weisman's unethical ass. We've a whole class of narrow minded, sanctimonious, short-sighted, greedy Repugnants that are more than happy to spread this kind of trash and propaganda; pray, how did you step into the fray?
If you fear being dubbed "the Liberal media", you're just before becoming Nancy Pelosi, a sure symbol of impotence .
You owe Barack Obama a written apology, and your readers a front page ad apologizing for spreading Repugnant propaganda and running scared. Step up WP, you used to have what it takes; send Weisman and Dana Milbank to Fox for good, and go back to reporting unbiased news.

Posted by: cmwilson | July 30, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Following Richard Cohen's piece from yesterday's Post in which he questioned Obamas record and called John McCain a "better man than most" in large part because of his misfortunes as a POW, this story is more evidence of the media punditry falling all over itself parsing and grasping for ways to criticize the presumptive Democratic nominee in order to make up for their collective guilt in reporting the positives of his trip to the Middle East and Europe last week. With this group, if one side said the world was flat and the other side said it was round, they would play it down the middle and report that both sides have merit to their argument. Reporting the facts no longer matters. Its all about not offending any of your readership. What passes for journalism these days is a sham.

Posted by: Steve O | July 30, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Not just "House Aids" are disputing this Post lie. A joke is a joke, Dana Milbank, but this isn't a joke and it isn't funny. On the other hand, Jonathan Weisman has usually been hard to believe, and his 'reporting' rarely passes the smell test.

This just feeds into the Anti-Obama propaganda machine that the press has turned into.

Posted by: | July 30, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Watching the manipulation by the media would be funny if it weren't so scary. The pundits spend hours of their time repeating snippets of information twisted to make Obama look bad, and then they spend more hours wondering why Obama isn't doing better in the polls. Hello? Is anyone paying attention? I certainly hope there are enough intelligent voters in this country to see how ridiculous that is.

Posted by: ilima1 | July 30, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

OK grumpy and his other dwarf minded supporters we get that John Mc Cain will not get to fulfill his biggest bucket list wish i.e. to become President of our country. He voted to put our troops in harms way and then did not even support the GI Bill to get them an education. Shame on you Grumpy shame shame. Fact is that Barack Obama is the embodiment of the American Dream only in our great land would his story or that of his lovely wife Michelle be possible period. Barack obama has intellect and integrity in spades and that must be frustration to John McCain and his Karl Rove tactic buddies.

No worries America will not be afraid of the truth this time and will vote in Barack Obama in November for the good of our great nation.



Posted by: COL JOSEPH MC MULLEN US ARMY RET | July 30, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Stuff like this is why I have the WaPo as one online paper I look at, mostly for $#!+s and giggles, and then look at my local paper for the real news. Because it is apparent that WaPo is down in the gutter with trash rags like People Magazine, and not really a source of journalism any more. What a sad sad fall from the glory days of the 70s, when hard journalism was a tradition of this paper.

And now I begin to wonder why people like Kieth Obermann waste any time with cranks like Milbank.

Posted by: Prattle in Seattle | July 30, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe Jonathan Weisman and Dana Milbank are so irresponsible that they haven't made any effort to update this misinformation. Instead they prefer to accumulate notoriety they can use to buy name recognition in the media. These are such creeps! BTW, guys, there's lots of other hot stories in the National Enquirer that are so worthy of your attention.

Posted by: RFK | July 30, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Those of you who allude to the "integrity" of the Post, have you been following what has happened the past few years? You have an ex-Wall Street Journal right-winger as the new Executive Editor of the Post, and you have Fred Hiatt as the farthest-right-wing editorial page editor in the country.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

True story -- John McCain wears $500 shoes. And they're Italian. Step on it, Weisman! Is the guy really American? Or are only democrats and black men uppity?

Posted by: American | July 30, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post's Editorial Board should apologize. Milbank's article was not fact-checked. It contained inaccuracies that are contradicted by the Washington Post's own reports e.g., Obama's alleged "presumptuous advice" conversation with Gordon Brown which never took place.

It contained truncated and twisted quotes that are beneath the dignity of a respected newspaper. It contained a political attack based on a violation of the private sanctity of a prayer.

In short, it crossed every line possible for a dignified, real debate on Obama's merits or non-merits for office. Dana Milbank should be investigated; it seems to me like he owed a favor to the GOP and pulled strings to get his nonesense published on page 1.

There's no question that for the article containing such inaccuracies to be out there for as long as it has without any footnotes has damaged the image of the Washington Post.

Posted by: asja | July 30, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I think the word Obama detractors are looking for is "Uppity"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Another embarrassment for The Post.

Posted by: Gordo | July 30, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Shame on you, and all your colleagues at the Post (yes, that means you Dana Milbank) who think half a quote is good enough to make up a story about Obama's alleged arrogance.

Posted by: Beth | July 30, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

It's the TRUTH. Anyone in their right mind would say Barack Obama has become a symbol of the possibility of America.

Who would've "THUNK" it?

Posted by: onefreeman | July 30, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Apparently some of the posters here DID NOT read the clarification of the quote.

Posted by: Jennifer | July 30, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Just watched on MSNBC Washington Post spokesperson.
When asked if the Milbank's accusations in today's Post have been put to rest with the revelation of the entire quote and it's context, she said "I think so, but....." and continued on to say (paraphrasing) that Obama is getting a little too confident and he best be careful.
Washington Post...APOLOGIZE.

Posted by: Jennifer | July 30, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else find it ironic the Post lost all interest in the terrorist attack in Knoxville from three days ago precisely when it became right-wingers and their enablers and inciters in the media were the terrorists and not the victims? I mean, the Post is now right there with Drudge.

Posted by: Jay Man | July 30, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Powell | July 30, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"Who ever said the press is against Obama clearly doesn't watch the press. Obama is the one who keeps putting his foot in his mouth but you would rather that not get reported typical liberal victim act. Obama is about as sharp as a river rock and the public needs to know it."

Posted by: the truth

The LA Times reported a study refuting your first claim:,0,712999.story
The NY Times did a story today sourced on colleagues at the U of Chicago, a conservative institution refuting your second claim:
You wouldn't know the truth if it was your father. But maybe you don't know who he is anyway

Posted by: edwcorey | July 30, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

a bunch of people have already commented on this, but I think there's a more fundamental problem here.
"no one is denying the quote"

what on earth does that mean? Forget others in the room--did you ask Obama himself? Or anyone in his campaign? If so, I would have expected you to report it, e.g.: "when contacted for a response, a spokesman for the Obama campaign did not dispute the quotation or its context."

I think I'm safe in assuming that you DID NOT do this. The only real question is: Why not?

Posted by: along | July 30, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

This is funny!

Posted by: JakeD | July 30, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

The "clarification" of the quote is worse then the initial one....they both say the same thing.

Posted by: JustWords

Only in your own feeble mind. The word is "than," by the way, JustGarbledMisspelledWords.

Posted by: edwcorey | July 30, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I'm having a Gore flashback. Back then, the claim was that he said he'd "invented the internet." Of course, he made no such claim, but that didn't stop the MSM from kicking him six days to Sunday. Then came the claim that he said he discovered Love Canal, which of course, he didn't. Then it was the claim that he said he and Tipper were the models for Love Story -- again, he didn't say it.

Did it matter? No. The narrative had been set: Gore was a big fat phony and a liar.

Well, deja vu. I'm so sure Obama, a pretty smart guy, stood up in front of an audience and proclaimed himself "a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," as the irresponsible Dana Milbank reported in his column -- based, mind you, on an unnamed "witness."

This is exactly the kind of clowning that put George Bush in the White House and, consequently, this country in Iraq, and gave us all the other disasters from this administration.

Can we please stop doing this?!!!

Posted by: Monk | July 30, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Today, Gallup admits the poll from two days ago showing McCain leading Obama among "likely voters" was a fraud, a concocted "scenario" reflecting the "best possible outcome for McCain."

Gallup's words, not mine.

The Post gleefully parroted the poll.

When will the Post have a banner headline correcting the story?

Posted by: Jay Man | July 30, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The "clarification" of the quote is worse then the initial one....they both say the same thing.>>>>> "I am THE ONE, THE MESSIAH, THE KING OF THE WORLD" - Barry Oblama


Posted by: JustWords | July 30, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Weisman builds a column around an anonymous source quoting Obama saying something incredibly arrogant. When others at the meeting say Weisman has twisted the quote to give it precisely the opposite meaning of what Weisman has implied, Weisman says "No tape of the event exists and no one is denying the quote."

If we assume there was no malice intended by Weisman before writing the first column, then he ran with a story he knew to be damaging to Obama based on a quote from a single source at a meeting where other elected officials were present. Did he contact any of them to verify the quote and the context? No tape exists, and Weisman is not denying he based his column on one source when others were available.

Therefore, if we assume no malice on Weisman's part, we have to assume stupidity
and a lack of journalism's fundamentals.
Which will it be Jonathan?

Posted by: ricky | July 30, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I regret the typo on Weisman's name; suggesting that he's got rocks in his head and bias in his heart stands.

Posted by: Jack Conway | July 30, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Weisman, when are you and Dana Milbank going to apologize to Senator Obama? You are suppose to be a journalist, but you run with a story that was hear say and the person (who was probably a Hillary supporter) didn't even get it right and you print it. And now today, dozens of democrats who were there and saying what you reported is wrong. I want to hear an apology from you and Milbank.

Posted by: Carolyn Grace | July 30, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I regret the typo on Weisman's name; suggesting he's a dummy stands.

Posted by: Jack Conway | July 30, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Let Milbank tell Olberman tonight about clinging to wrong-headedness, and then let him explain how he became one of the great fools of 2008; let him also describe if his buddy, Weissman, has gone into hiding---and if not, why not?

Has Bradless canceled his subscription yet?

Posted by: Jack Conway | July 30, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Who ever said the press is against Obama clearly doesn't watch the press. Obama is the one who keeps putting his foot in his mouth but you would rather that not get reported typical liberal victim act. Obama is about as sharp as a river rock and the public needs to know it.

Posted by: the truth | July 30, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday, Howard Kurtz ran with the lie that Obama's children "don't get Christmans presents." On the news pages, not the editorial ones.

Posted by: Jay Man | July 30, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

This isn't journalism. Come on! This is the WaPo! You guys are supposed to be better than this.

Posted by: thebob.bob | July 30, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Well that's it for me. I'm done with this tired old Rag. Taking a second hand quote and then taking it out of context without verifying the claim with other sources is not responsible journalism; it's propaganda. It serves only one purpose and that it is to unfairly define one candidate as a presumptuous elitist.

It's sickening and sadly it's become the MSM's narrative since the primary. Look at the headlines in the papers and the topics on cable tv and notice the amount of time spent on Obama's problems and how this or that may be preceived by the public. What they are doing isn't news, what they are doing is telling the public how to feel. Again, it's propaganda not journalism.

Eight years ago we elected a president who the media skewered for being anti-intellectual and now that we have a candidate who is intellectual and smart they skewer him for being so. If that's your meme then back it up with truth not second hand sources who take things out of context. But don't expect me to read it because you've lost all credibility with me. Bye bye.

Posted by: MickeyM | July 30, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

With all the GOOD, PRAISING coverage of the wonder child, OBAMA, why are you Obama supporters still complaining? I know, you have finally realized he's an empty suit with no substance just beautiful, well chosen words and words will not solve any problems. He oozes arrogance and as he struts around as if he's President, the voters are watching and will speak in the polling booth.

Posted by: Curley | July 30, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Weisman doesn't care what you think- he's a right-wing Likudnik doing this for Israel. It's a crusade for him. He's not unlike Balz, Kornblut, Marcus, Abramowitz, etc in this.

Posted by: Jay Man | July 30, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama, a symbol of America? Behaving like this, Obama is his own greatest enemy. We are watching the rise and fall of a ridiculous man.

Posted by: Marshall | July 30, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

lol, another cover story obama..
he says things , like "bitter and clinging to guns and the bible" and counts on it being spun to his advantage.

Posted by: Obamasaid: | July 30, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Anybody could be a symbol of greatness when your rival is McCain. Lets face it McCain would be 72 Years old next month, Obama will be 47. Mccain had cancer 4 times, can't remember what he says, has over 50 flip flops, always seem angry and frustrated. Hey when your running against a guy like McCain I guess you would consider yourself a symbol of everything McCain is not.

Posted by: Mary. | July 30, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The Post really needs to print a retraction. The fact that they still have this as the third most prominent article on their website is unbelievable, and instead of printing a retraction they have this post, which basically says "Well, I guess we were wrong, but why take the story back when it ruins our narrative?"

Posted by: bipothemo | July 30, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

We'll I guess Obama was saying compared to old angry frustrated McCain, most would consider him a symbol of a new America. We know McCain doesn't represent anything but the horrible past 8 years of Bush. So in that light, I guess people would consider Obama to be the symbol of a great America.

Posted by: Jessie | July 30, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I have never seen any politician that is so full of himself. The more I read about Obama, the more I feel that he belongs in Hollywood, not in the White House.

Posted by: Mike | July 30, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Goldie :: OH PLEASE tell me where you heard all this bad mouthing about Obama? I would love to hear it. As for my TV, all I can get are those who are praising him. That I do not want to hear. Let me know where to tune in to know someone is not praising him. He doesn't deserve it. Each and every station I turn to, there he is, with that stupid smile and still lieing.

Posted by: smaggie | July 30, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

What I don't understand is how can something be a quote if you are taking something second hand? Aren't direct quotes put in quotation marks and statements just written as a comment? Dana you should have never put it in quotation marks that made it seem as if it was a direct quote from Obama not second hand information. Bad, bad boy Dana. Not to mention is your new story line a arrogant black man tries to become president? Geez, I wonder if Keith will have you on tonight or if he will skewer you? I hope he runs you through the coals and back again. You should be ashamed of yourself for this one it's about correct reporting not half as* reporting.

Posted by: Tina | July 30, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

And so, in the name of "balance," you publish a false hit piece by Milbank to balance out the information that John McCain has spent the last five days lying? Unbelievable. I'm learning a lot about how the media really works in this campaign.

Posted by: John M. | July 30, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Guess it is time to stop reading this paper. Most other media are already just as bad against Obama. Just turn off the TV and stop reading. I am just sick of the anti-Obama bias in the media. It is time to boycott the media to make them see that trying to ratchet up their sales with biased and false stories just turns people off.

Posted by: Goldie | July 30, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

So why is this buried, while the false story by Milbank is on the front web page? Guess who the WP supports.

Posted by: Goldie | July 30, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

How sad...what would a politician say when their polls are up, confidence is high among their voter base, attack ad's are ridiculious..."We are doing well.." is being called presumptious...what will the RNC/GOPcard holders tomorrow..."he's a snob"..."he's eliteist"....Do you want him to act like McCain..."duh...the press dosen't cover me at my hall meetings....or my ...snooze...zzzzz..."Straight Talk Express"....snooze...zzzzz... or my photo ops of Bush 1 and McCain....Where McCain looks older and files are landing on his bulbous face....snooze...zzzzz....

Do you really think he'll say in front of his supporters.."The attack ad's are hilarious..lets see more and dont respond.." or "We are losing this election due to the RNC/GOP written speeches to McCain on the "surge" "slurpage"..." or the RNC/GOP are "too smart for us leftist liberals"....

Wow RNC/GOP you guys really like to believe your own "lies" so much so that you begin to think that they are "truth"

Or McCain spouting that" I am here for the troops, and I will help them in their needs here at home"..(actual quote)...yet this hypocrate hasn't voted on ANY ammendments for better wages, healthcare, educational benefits...sheesh he didn't vote on 4 of them because he didn't even show up for the vote....

When Election Day nears all of the lies will become louder and louder, but we'll have video of the McCain/Obama debates where McCain loses his dentures on a speech, or when he gets angry and tell Obama "get offa my lawn"...or when he snoozes during a live interview....I can't wait...tell more lies and make more trickery of videos, and distort Obama's face just like Fox does...and spread them some "talking points"...doofus McCain needs all the help you hypocrates can give to fool this Nation into voting another alcoholic POTUS...

Posted by: AlexP1 | July 30, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The Republican National Committee is now putting out the original Washington Post column as a press release attacking Obama.
Not the updated version, mind you, just the original. Nothing else. Mr. Weisman has become Judith Miller. I hope he writes home to Mom so she can be real proud.

Posted by: ricky | July 30, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Obama does seem to be getting more "full" of himself and is bordering on believing that he is the second coming. I am no fan of McCain so who knows where my vote will go this November.

Posted by: Dave, Portland, Oregon | July 30, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: DONDEAN | July 30, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

practically anything one says can be twisted beyond recognition if the one twisting it has an agenda. it's even easier if you get to mangle the quote before you twist it. the question is why, and how we can start listening to what people say and making up our own minds about what they meant, and what that means. Then we won't have to worry about shoddy journalism and agenda driven punditry.

Posted by: JoeT | July 30, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

You can't have it both ways. Most of you could care less when Hillary was misquoted or half quoted. Now you "demand" retraction? Obama is a big boy, he'll be just fine. After all, this is politics. You first timers are actually kind of cute. I "demand a retraction." lol

Posted by: lucci8 | July 30, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Just about every single pollster out there is a registered republican, but the press still tries to convince the people that the press is liberal.

Is that why the WaPo was beating the drum loudly for Bush's war?

Is that why the closest the NYT came to writing a real editorial opposing it, prior to the war, was Jimmy Carter's op-ed piece?

You people ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Uneducated Americans in the deep south, I can understand why they'd fall prey to the Republican scandal machine. Corrupt businesspeople in the major cities, they have a clear interest.

But what does the Post get by selling its soul? And how does that offset a living in an America where people are going without the benefits of peace, prosperity, education, health care, a clean environment and hope for the future.

Shame on you. You people, of all people, should know better.

Fox makes no pretense about its support of the Republicans. You people sit on the fence. So Republicans have 75% of the influence in the media.

That is wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Everything and anything Obama and McCain says is news, but not truncated quotes meant to conveniently fit a writer's preconceived narrative.

The Post needs to retract this quote ASAP online, and in print. Dana Millbank needs to go on whatever talk shows he frequents on MSNBC and acknowledge he made a mistake ASAP.

Posted by: msblucow | July 30, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

WaPo trying to push circulation numbers by publishing a series of negative articles on Obama. This is why more and more people are turning away from "mainstream media" sources like yours.

Posted by: Mike O | July 30, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Can the MSM be that desperate for advertising dollars that it regurgitates Republican talking points without fact-checking them? Just a few years ago, publishing incorrect facts could get a reporter fired (remember how close Dan Rather came to being fired?).

How dare the MSM try to sway this election in favor of McCain by publishing outright lies about Obama.

Posted by: Seneca | July 30, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

This is intolerable coming from the Washington Post. Retract the story and offer a real and sincere apology! Update the story with all the facts and stop taking bites out of context.

Shame on you.

Posted by: Eddie | July 30, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

We're witnessing the dumbing-down of the media and therefore the American people, allowing the neocons to deceive the voters and trash our nation.

Posted by: Barbara Campbell | July 30, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Shame on you Dana!

Posted by: nooperdoop | July 30, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of corps making large sums of money by breaking the law and then paying peanuts for their sins.

The WP made headlines with this story. We are all waiting for the apology - which will never come!

Posted by: DD | July 30, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Printing half-quotes is tantamount to publishing a lie. The Post and its reporters need to retract their story immediately, print the full text of Obama's remarks, and offer an apology to both the candidate and the readers.

We all deserve better from the Washington Post.

Posted by: dee | July 30, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

charlieb wrote: "This guy puts George Bush to shame in the arrogance department. It took some time to get there, but everyone is starting to get really turned off by his arrogance. He really is full of himself!! That's a huge turn off!"

Hold on, and think for a minute. Even if you do believe Obama is an arrogant guy, there is a huge difference between arrogance regarding your own self-worth, and arrogance that contributes to the deaths of thousands of your country's troops and untold numbers of foreign civilians.

TO THE WASHINGTON POST AND MR. WEISMAN: I never dreamed I'd be giving advice to a national newspaper, but in view of your recent efforts, I guess everyone needs a little advice sometimes. So, I began this message by quoting, in full, the original source. By seeing the context of the quote, readers know that I'm not distorting the original meaning. Sometime, if you feel up to it, I encourage you try using this technique in your own writing.

A twenty-something not even remotely trained in journalism

Posted by: Joel | July 30, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Help me out here. We have multiple unsourced accounts of what was said. The account Weisman first published is being treated as the historical record. The other account is being treated as untrustworthy gossip.

Um, why?

Posted by: Marc | July 30, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Your inability to acknowledge that you not only truncated the context of the quote but adjusted (leaving out the word "just") is disgusting and arrogant. At the very least you should save some face by acknowledging or apologizing that you took the quote out of context. Maybe you don't care about your journalism integrity, but this sort of reporting deserves a job offer from the National Enquirer and not what was thought to be a reputable National Newspaper.

Posted by: Unfortunate | July 30, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

There are some who would say that Jonny Weisman and Dana Milbank are homosexual lovers. It would be irresponsible of us not to discuss this.

So who's the top? I say it's Milbank, since Weisman has shown he's just a little tool, chasing after Dana's garbage.

Posted by: WeismansARepublicanTool | July 30, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

What about the lie that he gave advice to Gordon Brown. That was an out of context quote of a conversation he was having with Cambell the opposition leader. That should have got the editors to realize there where problems with the article

Posted by: Pkali | July 30, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for an apology from the Post., MSNBC, etc. have shown the ENTIRE quotation. Journalism 101 teaches that you can't lift PART of a quotation to suit your agenda. This outlandish gaffe should be a career ender for Dana Milbank. I know I'll never again take him seriously. The Post better come out pronto and correct this. (Wonder what Howard Kurtz will say?? Probably nothing.)

Posted by: JB | July 30, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Weisman--

If no tape exists and you couldn't be sure what was said,why did you report the first, inaccurate, quote as if it were a fact?

Posted by: Sharon Brown | July 30, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

New polls taken yesterday show a toss-up in NC and a big Obama lead in PA, another sign the Democrat is ahead:

Posted by: Dan | July 30, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Let's recap:

First, Mr. Weisman presents a truncated quote, without indicating to his readers that is has been truncated. In setting the context for this quote, he says, in his own voice, that it is a "real zinger," and a statement that "suggest[s] that he [Obama] was beginning to believe his own hype."

Many, many commenters - also known as loyal and engaged readers of, also known as "eyeballs for which advertisers pay ad fees, also known as "the people upon whom your future may well depend" - as well as other news organizations point out that the use of the quotation is misleading.

Mr. Weisman "updates" - note, not "corrects" - the post. How does he introduce the actual, accurate quote? By characterizing it in a manner that implies that the correction is just damage control: "House leadership aides pushed back . . . ," "no one is denying the quote," "one leadership aide said the full quote put it into a different context."

Now, I'm not a "professional" journalist - just a longtime and committed newspaper reader (and subscriber!) in a world where I'm a vanishing breed. But I would describe the "different context" as "the accurate context."

I know everyone in daily journalism is under a lot of pressure to break news, but really.

Are you proud of this?

Posted by: JC | July 30, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

This negativity saddens me. Yes, Obama can draw a crowd. Has any thought that it could be because they want to hear what he has to say. Oh no!! I think so.
The fact is that most of the coverage that Barack Obama is getting is negative. Yet, he is standing firm on the message of a positive campaign.

Obama has proven to me that he is intelligent, confident, organized, honest, and has pretty good sense judgement for an inexperienced Presidential nominee.

Give the man some kudos!
No one thought and still think that is not Presidential. The fear is, he is.

Posted by: Ronda | July 30, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Must be a slow political news day for the Washington Post to post this story.


Posted by: Obama-Junkie | July 30, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Jaxes - I completely agree with you except for one thing: I am not sure that the MSM wants McCain to win; instead, I think that their purpose is to create conflict. While the coverage of late seems biased towards McCain; I think that the bias is a mere bi-product of their perception that Obama could run away with this thing. If Obama runs away with the election from August to November, television stations ratings will be down, papers will not be read, blogs will not be as active.

So watch for the critiques of Obama to continue until McCain is ahead and then it will flip the other way. As long as it is close we are all on the edge of our seats, reading their crap. Unfortunately, their craving for readers and ratings does our country a great deal of harm.

Unfortunately, when 90 percent of our media is run by six corporations, there will be little room for a conscience - all that matters is the bottom line.

As long as we are on the edge of our seats, they will continue to rake in the multiple billions of dollars from the campaigns for advertising and ratings and readers.

Making the election into a 2 year affair has been an ingenious way to take money from the average Joe and line the pockets of these six corporations.

Posted by: Jeff D from PA | July 30, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Aleklawyer.. we are not saying the press can't criticize Obama.. but they should do it in a responsible way with facts and not falsehood.

And when did confidence turn into arrogance. Arrogant people are insecure Obama is not.

Posted by: Aniekan | July 30, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Truncated quotes are the least of Mr. Weisman's well-documented failures as a nonpartisan journalist.

Posted by: BWD | July 30, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post is still the same lousy rag that pushed for us to invade Iraq and carried Bush propaganda on the front page. Nothing changes with you guys.

Posted by: WeismansARepublicanTool | July 30, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Dana and Washington Post but you guys made a serious mistake. I expect to see you guys make a correction as soon as possible

Posted by: Tommy | July 30, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

You lied and then editorialized. You should be fired. This is a patern. You aren't a reporter you are a shill.

Posted by: Julian | July 30, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Wow! The media stops acting like Obama's poodle and dares to criticize The Arrogant One and all hell breaks loose. A healthy democracy demands an unbiased media. Obamaniacs should welcome criticism of their false messiah and recognize that the race is not over yet. But, they drank so much of the BHO Kool-Aid that they failed to recognize that he peaked too soon. It is all downhill from here on.

Thank you Washington Post for doing your job. Keep it coming please.

Posted by: Aleklawyer | July 30, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Way to play right into the Crooked Talk Express Washington Post...brilliant move!

Posted by: Larry | July 30, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I do not find these comments arrogant nor presumptive. Quite the contrary.

We, as Americans, have grown so used to the politics of fear, lies, and our diminished global status, we don't know what to do when we see something better.

Obama is a symbol - a symbol of what we can be again. What are you afraid of?

Posted by: Susan | July 30, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

It looks like Jonathan Weisman is well known for "truncating" quotes to fit his ideology.


Here are the list of his track record:

Posted by: Ekim | July 30, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Misquoted? Maybe, but this has still become a "symbol" in its own right: A symbol of the arrogance and elitist attitude that voters see Obama as possessing.

Posted by: matt | July 30, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing new going on here folks. In 2000, these same media types peddled the fake narrative that Al Gore was a serial exaggerator who claimed he "invented the internet". It turned out to be untrue, but it is still widel used. In 2004, they ran with the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth story for days on end, claiming they had to cover the story if for no other reason than to show it was a lie. All they ended up doing was keeping the ad and the story alive. And now, here we go again. We have Weisman, Milbank and their allies at the cable news networks are primed to run with this fake narrative of Obama, the aloof, above the fray elitist who doesn't care about hardworking average Americans and who disses our troops.

Look. The media does not want Barak Obama in the White House. The media's best source of income is this old culture war that keeps a divided America and loads of superheated controversy that brings in ratings and profits. That is why these guys love that fat, swilly old addict and drunk Limbaugh.

Trust me. They are going to do everything they can to peddle this fake narrative put out by Limbaugh and the RNC and the McCain campaign to try and bring down Obama before he takes off and reduces this election to a snore. That of course would be bad for their ratings and profits.

Posted by: Jaxas | July 30, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Dear WaPo,

This incident is a pitch perfect example of how the MSM misrepresents facts in order to satisfy a preconceived narrative. Thank you for providing such a clear and concise example of the media behavior that is continuously injuring our collective national dialogue.

Frank M.

Posted by: Frank M | July 30, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Washington Post you got this wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong..

Instead of trying to get shock value, you should go for quality

Posted by: JS | July 30, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Craig Crawford: "Even if it's not true..."

mission accomplished, mr weisman. you've definitely earned that preferred seat on the straight talk express. hell, you might even get your very own personalized chef's hat and apron that you can wear to the next st john bbq.

Posted by: linda | July 30, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Evidently Mr. Milbank feels that he hasn't received enough attention as of late.
This article is a piece of crap. I can't believe this came from The Washington Post.

Posted by: Treebranch | July 30, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Considering Wiseman was the person who said that Obama was "more white than black," I'm not surprised he would produce this type of hit-job.

Posted by: Miki | July 30, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

This was a perfect example of just how the mainstream media, far from being the peddlers of liberal orthodoxy, always end up somehow rationalizing, justifying, legitimizing and ultimately desseminating as "news analysis", the fake narratives fed to them by the right wing smear machine and the RNC. Haven't you people in the mainstream media ever wondered why Osama Bin Laden gets favorable opinion ratings higher than you? Let me clue you in: It isn't because this entire country is right wing and believe you to be biased in favor of liberals. It is precisely because of this sort of acting as handmaiden to the right, to powerful business interests, and ultimately to the powerful in government whose access you crave even more than the truth.

Just look in the pages of the newspapers this morning, or listen to the burblings on the cable news networks if you want any proof. Yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, they played John McCain's untruthful ad about Barak Obama's canceled visit to wounded troops in a hospital in Germany, ad nauseam, free gratis, giving McCain free air time with very little balance other than a bunch of screeching pundits.

I don't want to hear that fat, sour, swilly, drugh addicted drunk Limbaugh ever again talk about how freaking liberal the media is because it isn't true. Most of them may have been liberals at one time, but like so many liberals from the 60s and 70s, they have turned over to the right.

John McCain has proved himself to be just as swilly and piglike in his speech and behaviour as Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by: Jaxas | July 30, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Please retract the article and apologise for publishing such false hood as the truth.

Posted by: Alison | July 30, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Your competition at the NY Times had two interesting pieces today, both of which involve, gasp, actual reporting on the candidates and their campaigns.

New television monitoring services show the McCain campaign is getting loads of free media as his ads are run over and over as "news" with little analysis or context.

"Result for Mr. McCain: a public relations coup that allowed him to show his toughest campaign advertisement of the year -- one widely panned as misleading -- to millions of people, largely free, through television news media hungry for political news with arresting visual imagery."

Obama has been aware of the challenge he is taking on for a long time. Check out how he taught law at the University of Chicago, challenging his students to understand the contradictions and subtleties inherent in the law.

Everyone has a right to say pretty much whatever they want to in this country.

Washington Post, you have an obligation to all of us do more good old fashioned reporting to help our country make the right decision in November.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

The full quote still sounds arrogant.

How was it an historic trip?

Posted by: Thomas Covenant | July 30, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

It's disingenuous of Mr. Weisman to say that "no one is denying the quote"--the point isn't whether the quote can be denied, it's whether the quote fairly reflects what Obama was saying. I'd expect this kind of dissembling from Kent Brockman, not the Post.

Posted by: Dana B. | July 30, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Mr Weisman, you may think that what you wrote here is sufficient but I do not. Your error requires an apology from your editor. There is quite a bit of misreporting with what were once fine news sources. This however is the worst that I have seen this cycle. From my standpoint further work is needed to remedy this error.

Posted by: Ronnn | July 30, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The Post should apologize and Milbank should be reprimanded. It is one thing to print stories which, by the objective facts, don't portray a candidate in the best light. But when the Post uses half of a quote, garndered second-hand from an unnamed source, it has crossed the line into tabloid trash. The full context gives the sentence a COMPLETELY different meaning - one which Mr. Milbank conveniently ignored for his own story.

Be forwarned, ladies and gentlemen. There will be a lot more of this. The press is upset with itself for having left itself open to the criticism that it has fawned over Sen. Obama. Get ready for the disproportionate backlash as "reporters" seize on ANYTHING they can to try to distinguish themselves as NOT supporting Sen. Obama.

Shame on you, Mr. Milbank. And shame on you Post.

Posted by: Dan | July 30, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

This guy puts George Bush to shame in the arrogance department. It took some time to get there, but everyone is starting to get really turned off by his arrogance. He really is full of himself!! That's a huge turn off!

Posted by: charlieb | July 30, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Every day I become more convinced that in the media age that we live in - with statements taken out of context, waiting to jump on any gaffe, and spin that makes the average citizen dizzy - that JFK, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, and many others would never have gotten elected.

Obama is a once in a generation politician (yes, politician) and leader and the MSM is focused on tearing him down. He may be dominating the news coverage, but as a recent report stated 72 percent of his coverage has been negative.

Last week Obama had an historic trip that no other politician (nor president) has had anything even close to, yet the MSM spent half the time tearing him down - calling him arrogant and stating the McCain talking points about troops in Germany.

Accurate reporting is not turning everything that a candidate does into a positive aspect and finding a negative aspect. Accurate reporting is reporting a historic event as positive and not spinning it into something negative just to be "fair."

Under the laws of journalism that follow here, you would cover the first man on Mars as both "an amazing historic event" and "an arrogant, self-congratulating step."

The current media atmosphere is schizophrenic at best; sad and dishonest at worst.

Posted by: Jessica | July 30, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The American people are going to get very tired very quickly of Republicans who have nothing to run on except distortion and criticism of words taken out of context.

Why is the media perpetuating GOP propaganda? Are you willing to ruin our country in order to increase your advertisers' revenue?

Bush, McCain, and the neocons have trashed our country and our planet in the pursuit of enormous wealth and power for themselves and their friends.

Posted by: Barbara Campbell | July 30, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

The only acceptable response is for the Post to print a retraction of Milbank's smear. Post "reporters" continue to play with facts to fit the spin narrative they need to get the attention they crave for their cable news appearances, books, Daily Show, Bill Maher, and Colbert. Milbank is a personality as much as he's a reporter. He needs audiences to recognize his name. Do not pretend anything he reports is news. Everything he writes is his opinion and should be identified as such.

Posted by: TJK | July 30, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Letter to WashPo Ombudsman:

Good Morning Ms. Howell:

This is my 2nd attempt to contact you & your paper about the gross misrepresation which Jonathan Weisman started in his column in The Trail which was then, requoted by Dana Millbank in his The Sketch column this morning.

Here is the rebuttal: from Ben Smith at

Spinning 'symbolism'

From Playbook:

THE GOP IS VERY EXCITED ABOUT a quote that The Washington Post runs on both a blog and in the paper, in which Obama supposedly tells House Democrats: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

BUT A DEMOCRATIC SOURCE SAYS: "His entire point of that riff was that the campaign IS NOT about him. [The Post] left out the important first half of the sentence, which was along the lines of: 'It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol ... ." By Ben Smith 09:21 AM

Ms. Howell, this election as much as any other is the most important to our country in years.
When an otherwise respected newspaper such as the Washington Post prints and reprints such distortions without collaboration which is then, repeated on a cable news Morning program all morning, it becomes incumbent upon your readership to ask for
1) A front page, above the fold RETRACTION
2) More oversight & responsible reporting
Otherwise, your readership with more than a Grade 6 education (jounalistic standards these days) will find other more accurate sourcing for their news.
This entire debacle is disappointing in the extreme.

Posted by: Dari | July 30, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse


Issues We care About!

The neoconservatives and the Bush administration should be held accountable not only for the cost of the Iraq War but the 492 billion dollar deficit.

- Part of the cost are the 30,000 USA Troops wounded.

-Start laying the groundwork to move the the US away from oil dependency.

As soon as the 2008 election is over The Republicans will start running for the next elections in 2010 and 2012. This is the reason gridlock doesn't help this country.

The Republicans as a group should "pay a price" for the Gridlock.
Those that work together with the Democrats to end the mess that the neoconservatives created should be courted.

Vote Democrat '08

Posted by: Bobby | July 30, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Well, "house aides" and about 500 commentators on your original post.

Posted by: Xanthippas | July 30, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Why bother, Jonathan? It is increasingly clear that the new "narrative" chosen for this campaign is that Obama is arrogant and McCain is angry. We all know that you and your fellow reporters are going to fit every piece of information you receive into that narrative. You did it with your original post, it's now all over these crazy internets, and there's no taking it back.

Posted by: Frustrated | July 30, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Your newspaper and blog gave news organizations cover for running a false news story this morning (Morning Joe spent at least 45 minutes on it). And no doubt gave Hannity, O'Reilly, The RNC and others weeks of talking points.

The statement in the full context is one that Obama has been saying for over a year and means nothing along the lines that you portrayed it. Yet your horrific reporting actually gave this RNC talking point credence.

I think that you should be ashamed of yourselves and owe both the Obama campaign and your readers an apology.

Those of us that are volunteering and working our butts off for the campaign, because it is something that we truly believe in, now have to work harder because of this shoddy reporting.

Please publish a retraction and apology tomorrow - remove the original blog post and replace with an accurate story.

Thank you - and if you correct this in a fair an adequate way, I will continue to be a regular reader of you paper and blog.

Posted by: Jeff D from PA | July 30, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Yet again, an unnamed source. Who is this aide? Can you please spill a few more pixels to clarify this story, or get rid of it altogether? I like the Post, but this story is a joke.

Posted by: Chris | July 30, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

It is a shame that the media has become an accesory of the republican party in making up stories against Obama. Wait for the TV ad!!!

Posted by: Carl29 | July 30, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Since the Washington Post and this column in particular created the false story by shoddy journalism, can we expect a correction or apology?

Posted by: Wirro | July 30, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Weisman

We urge you strongly to update your other post with the full context as well!

Stop misreporting!

Posted by: Ekim | July 30, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

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