For the Obama Defense: CNN

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Apr 12, 2008 12:15 PM
This morning about 8:15 (pacific time), Barack's gaffe was "covered" on CNN -- inexplicably enough -- as a controversy surrounding nothing more than the use of the word "bitter."   Remarkably, although the brouhaha surrounding the comments was reported on, the Obama fans at what was once the Clinton News Network denied their viewers the opportunity to learn exactly what the offensive remarks were -- much less hear the audio of them, all easily accessible right here.

Instead, the "coverage" went down like this (note the repeated use of the word "it" referring to something that's never presented to the viewer):

Clip of Hillary Clinton criticizing the unreported-on remarks.

CNN Anchor TJ Holmes: We hear [Clinton] there.  Of course, we expected some of his political opponents to jump on it -- his critics to jump on it as well.  But he didn't exactly back away from it.  I mean, he said, "Yeah, I said it and that's what I meant."  He said he didn't say it the best way possible, but he didn't back away from the comments.

CNN Reporter Paul Steinhauser: He says he's being taken out of context.  Listen, these people are bitter.  There have been economic tough times for two decades now and the government isn't listening to them so they vote on other issues because they don't believe the government will even help them.

It was not clear from his tone whether Steinhauser was intending to paraphrase Barack's own defense or offering one of his own.  And note that all of this took place without playing or even quoting the remarks that were precipitating all this discussion.

At this point, the coverage shifted to a clip of Barack defending himself against the still-unrevealed remarks, starting with his statement that people in small towns are bitter because they've been left behind.  It continued with this quote:

When you're bitter, you turn to what you can count on.  Some people . . . vote about guns or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community.  They get mad about illegal immigrants, or they get frustrated about how things are changing.  That's a natural response.

So is that what he was really saying?  Unlike CNN, I'm going to post Barack's first comments and let you be the judges, dear readers. 

Here are the initial comments:

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. . . . It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Similar content, perhaps, but what a different tone!  Shifting from the condescending "it's not surprising" to the "natural response" and from accusing these people of bigotry and "cling[ing] . . . to religion" to "tak[ing] comfort from their faith" -- among other differences.

Words do matter, don't they?  So, apparently, does the location in which they're offered.  San Francisco words are considerably more offensive, it seems, than, say, Pennsylvania ones.