The following is part of a spammed email forwarded from a reader yesterday that blames Obama for hiring Chinese firms to do American construction projects:
“Diane Sawyer reporting on U.S. bridge projects going to the Chinese…. NOT Americans. The bridges are right here in the U.S. and yet Obama has approved for Chinese contractors to come in and do the work. What about jobs for Americans???
Watch this video. It doesn’t take long to view.
This one should be tough for the supporters of the current regime to swallow….AND it comes from ABC NEWS”
Well, I watched the video and it was tough to swallow, as Dianne Sawyer began by calling the hiring of Chinese firms “shocking” . Next there is a clip of Obama saying he wanted to “put construction workers back to work” in the U. S. Ha, then why were Chinese firms being hired? At that point I noticed the video was made Sept 23, 2011, so I Googled the subject and found a Factcheck.org piece exploring the issue. Here is the short of it according Factcheck:
Q: Is President Obama responsible for Chinese companies building U.S. bridges with stimulus money, as reported by ABC News?
A: No. A viral email distorts an ABC News report. California officials hired a Chinese contractor and rejected federal money to avoid federal “Buy American” laws (*1)
I watched the video again and wondered why I had missed the main point, that state officials made the call and that Obama was only guilty by inferences viewers like me made. He could not force California officials to abide by “Buy American” laws if they rejected federal money (*2).
Part of the problem here is what often happens in TV news, they mix dramatic effects with a message which is often undermined by the impact of the dramatic effects. The beginning and end of a story are the two most memorable parts and a video usually has more impact than words. Dianne Sawyer began with her “shocking news” about buying Chinese, especially shocking when compared with Obama arguing to buy American in a video. And then the segment ended with a line about how Buy American laws weren’t going to work if states could so easily ignore them. If you piece those three elements together, and mix in some fuzzy mindedness, it adds up to Obama somehow seeming guilty.
For that to be true, he would need to be dictator, not president. Using that image of Obama promising to create jobs was a poor choice by ABC, as it implied fault on his part regarding the Chinese hiring, which suggests to me ABC valued the dramatic feel of the piece so much they didn’t notice it implied blame where it did not exist.
And that is all the rabid right needed to go nuts over the issue as it did when it mistakenly thought Obama was in France over our 4th of July (noted in a previous post). Whatever seems to support their animosity towards him they will run with and, if proven wrong, no matter, they will pick up something else likely to be false and run with that, too. It is like they keep throwing rancid spagetti on a wall figuring some of it will stick, and of course some of it does. The reader who forwarded the accusatory email ended his introductory comment with: “The truth shall set us free!” I agree, but in this age of misinformation, you sure have to work like hell to find it.
(*1) You can decide for yourself by watching the ABC video and then going to factcheck.org. The latter’s analysis covers other “hire Chinese” accusations as well. Also, in response to the explosion of negative ads by Super Pacs, Factcheck.org created another site aimed at prompting radio and TV station directors to pull the most fallacious ones: Flackcheck.org. Check that site out as well, as it reveals a number of whoppers from both sides.
(*2) Here we have a state exercising its rights to make certain decisions, such as to refuse federal funds so as to evade a federal law. That’s the kind of states “right” that the right so often argues for, but if they don’t like the decision they ignore that, especially if they can somehow pin fault on Obama in the process.