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Obama Gets Benefit of the Doubt (for Now)

By Ben Pershing
It's called "the benefit of the doubt" and Barack Obama gets it right now, at least as far as the media is concerned. That's the takeaway from yesterday's release and today's coverage of the long-awaited Blegojevich report, a document prepared by White House counsel-designate Gregory Craig which found that there was a bit of contact between the incoming administration and the embattled governor's office over the vacant Illinois senate seat, but nothing inappropriate.

Maybe there really is nothing to see here, and it is Christmas Eve. Still, it's striking how little skepticism there is in this morning's stories, both of the report's result and the process by which it was crafted. Imagine that there was a potential scandal like this involving the Bush administration -- far-fetched, we know, but play along for a moment. And imagine that Bush announced right away that he had done nothing wrong, but then said his staff would mount its own internal investigation, based on parameters and guidelines that he set. Next, imagine that the White House counsel produced a report, which said no one did anything wrong. Would the media buy that? Would that really be the end of the matter? The contrast between the leeway allowed the current administration and the incoming one is striking, though you could argue that the former earned a healthy dose of skepticism over the last eight years.

Continue reading at Political Browser»

By Ben Pershing  |  December 24, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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Evidence that that Obama campaign raked in millions by allowing donors to exceed legal limits. Millions more flowed into his coffers from unidentifiable sources, including prohibited financial support from foreign nationals.

And, astoundingly, nearly half of his total campaign contributions, over $300 million, came from donors under $200 — donor names Obama still won't release for public scrutiny.
This from a man who said "This will be the most open and transparent administration ever in the White House."
Yep, Change
Change isn't better, Only better is better.

Posted by: Aiden1 | December 29, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Chill out, people! Blagojevitch is not the governor Obama knew.

Posted by: brigittepj | December 27, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama will ALWAYS get the benefit of the doubt from the reporters who voted for him (which almost everyone who works for WaPo) because criticizing him is an admission that the reporter made a mistake, and we all know reporters NEVER make mistakes!

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 26, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Why does Obama Get the benefit of the doubt? What doubt is applicable? From everything I have read the prosecutor has requested that the President-elect not reveal any evidence which might affect his case against the the governor of Illinois. It seems to me that there are some pressing problems facing Mr.Obama and the sooner the carpers and headline seekers in the media do something besides look for trouble, where none exists, the quicker the new administration can move ahead with desperately needed solutions to worldwide problems. I think it would be far wiser and more appropriate to investigate why the outgoing president and vice president are not being charged with crimes against humanity and for the deaths and maiming of our servicemen and women in a phony war and their violations of the Geneva Convention. For crying out loud, isn't it high time for the grown-ups to get to work? How about some real news AND HONEST REPORTING for a change? Sy Levy

Posted by: sy2477 | December 25, 2008 5:23 AM | Report abuse

And another thing!

MarkR1's reference to WAPO's urban-culture bias against "the culture that produced Sarah Palin" misses the point utterly, even if true to some degree. I, too, am revolted by machine-politics corruption that produces the likes of Blagojevich (what an IDIOT!! what a SLEAZE!!!), and I have never had any illusions about Obama being as pure as the driven snow . . . Although the truth is surely very complicated, it does seem that Obama flourished more DESPITE the political-machine environment than BECAUSE of it . . . Whatever!

But if MarkR1 thinks that Palin is a superior to Obama and that her "culture" is superior, I suggest he have a quiet rest in the home . . . I live in the middle of Appalachia and love it, and I love my hard-working and honest WV neighbors. And I love many aspects of our Appalachian culture. But sometimes the anti-intellectual, anti-urban, and anti-OTHER insular culture one sometimes finds in West Virginia and (apparently) Wasilla does produce something LESS worthy than Obama, namely Palin. She was and remains conspicuously ill-prepared for and unworthy of the office she sought, regardless from what culture she has sprung. And for the record, political corruption is not limited to urban centers. Time was (and may still be in some places) in West Virginia when you could buy a vote for "one dollar or two swallers" [swallows of moonshine, for those of you who don't speak Redneck].

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | December 24, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

First, full disclosure: I voted for Obama and am delighted that he won. Furthermore, I am heartily encouraged by almost all of what I see in his transition efforts. That said, I do wish he had moved faster to clarify his/his staff's role in this sordid (and frankly unbelievable, if it weren't a Chicago story) Blagojevich affair. I say let Fitzgerald do his job--he's good at it (and a tenacious pitbull Republican and not likely to go easy on Obama).

Bottom line in this business??? Apparently NOT that Obama et al were doing the "pay to play" dance with that TOTAL MORON Blagojevich, OR that Fitzgerald sees Obama et al as subjects of his investigation. Rather, the bottom line to me seems threefold:
1) Obama IS a politician and will issue self-serving statements when the purpose suits him. Is anybody surprised??? Do you think that Dubya, Rumsfeld, Rove and that bunch were the least bit purer??? No, no purer; worse, if anything (can you say "Jack Abramhoff"??), and a whole lot dumber to boot "(Heckuva job, Brownie!") . . .
2) Wingnuts, conspiracy-theory idiots, and their windbag spokesmen will have their usual field day because because truth, logic, and reason and mere annoyances to be brushed aside as they pursue their blighted agendas (can you say "Sean Hannity" and "Rush Limbaugh"???).
3) The significant business of the country will be set back once again as we gawk at this traffic-accident of a political side show. I mean, where is the perspective in this story??? We're convulsing because Obama's people gave a list of suggested persons for Blagojevich to consider??? Puh-LEEZE!!! Nice goin', guys . . . .

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | December 24, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The title should be: "Obama gets the benefit of the doubt from 06/2007 to ..."

Posted by: star_key2 | December 24, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

you know even a blind man can see whats happen now obama is tied into so much it hard to figure which one is up c kennedy big joke but when you deal with t kennedy deal is a deal how can the people in this wthat can be run by honest goverment this whole mess makes me sick lets get rid of obama and biden and start all over get a person like palin she will get rid of all the crooks jmp

Posted by: mlp46947 | December 24, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

LOL! How sad from the once venerable, Watergate-era WaPo.

Everyone else: have a Merry Christmas!

Posted by: JakeD | December 24, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and MarkR1, the press didn't beat McCain. McCain (and the GOP's policies that led to this tanking economy) beat McCain.

Posted by: SGall23241 | December 24, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

PatrickJT's right, and MarkR1's wrong. Bush was given a free pass on Iraq and WMD, and look where that got us. Are you also forgetting that (Republican) Fitzgerald said that he found nothing was done illegally by the President-Elect and his staff? MarkR1, if I were a betting man, I'd bet that you fiercely defended Bush on everything he did--against his critics on these boards, that is, because the press certainly didn't go after him. If you're pushing the MSM to go after Obama more, then maybe you should be careful what you ask for, since they didn't with Bush. Unbelievable.

Posted by: SGall23241 | December 24, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

You're joking - right? You ARE talking about the same press that rolled over for Bush for the past 8 years? That "skeptical" press? I won't go through the whole litinany of things the "skeptical" press gave him a wink and a nod on. Please tell me this was written tongue in cheek.

Posted by: PatrickJT | December 24, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the commentary. It remains to be seen if Obama will be subjected to the kind of scrutiny and skepticism afforded his predecessors. Campaign coverage was not encouraging. There was little thought given to the socially dysfunctional and politically sleazy political waters in which Obama has swum on order to ascend to the White House, by comparison with the culture that produced Sarah Palin. A narrow pro-urban bias is the culprit, probably. Rev. Wright, Rev. Phleger, Bill Ayers, Rod Blagojevich . . . already a lot of sketchy characters from ailing Chicago for Team Obama to have to explain away . . . Who's more offensively partisan and smash-mouth, by the way - Karl Rove or Rahm Emanuel?

Posted by: MarkR1 | December 24, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

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