Sloppy Guardian

For as long as I can remember, the Guardian has been one of the “go to” papers of record, not just in Europe but worldwide. But this piece, US election: Buffett joins Obama to solve economic crisis,” sucked quite badly. I wonder what that’s about — could they just not be bothered with ediitorial oversight on this one, or is their man on the US political beat, Ewen MacAskill, allowed to phone it in because he has to endure several more months in the US spin machine?

Taking it from the top:

Republicans included Paul O’Neill, former Treasury secretary in George Bush’s administration. His attendance was not seen as an endorsement for Obama.

Not seen by whom? Who decided it was wasn’t an endorsement? The Obama campaign? The McCain campaign? Or is MacAskill doing the royal “we” and voicing his own opinion without attribution?

John McCain, Obama’s Republican rival, who complained repeatedly last week about the US media’s saturation coverage of the Democrat’s visit to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Europe.

Instead of mindlessly regurgitating the McCain campaign’s embarrassing whine, it would have been more informative had MacAskill bothered to point out that McCain was in fact fortunate to avoid the many column inches that could have been dedicated to his repeated flip flops, lies, and embarrassing gaffes while Obama was travelling. Had the media done its job and covered McCain with the same fervor he would no doubt have whined that they were being unfair.

The senator has survived three bouts of melanoma. He suffered sun damage during his 5½ years in a North Vietnamese prison camp.

Uhm, so the McCain campaign has successfully convinced MacAskill that the Senator’s melanoma is basically a war wound? Since his time as a POW is pretty much all McCain has left to run on that’s not surprising, of course, but had MacAskill bothered to do any real research he’d have found that a) the cause of a particular melanoma cannot be pegged with acurracy, and that b) McCain himself has declared that he thinks repeated severe sunburns in his childhood are the cause.

It’s certainly nice of MacAskill to mindlessly repeat the “he’s a war hero and suffered so much” narrative, but calling it journalism is just wrong. He would have been just as right in stating: “He suffered sun damage during his early years as a white American child of tremendous privilege.”

Although Obama is popular in Europe, he has not established a commanding lead in America. A USA Today/Gallup poll of likely voters published yesterday showed McCain jumping 10 points over the last month to put him on 49% to Obama’s 45%. It is out of step with other recent polls that have consistently had Obama ahead, albeit not by much.

This one is just a doozie. Regurgitating the nonsense of talking heads across the US media, this “he’s ahead but not enough, so he’s really not ahead at all” narrative is vacuous at best.

McCain’s campaign has been largely shambolic, with the US media often behaving as if an Obama presidency is inevitable.

Uh, perhaps they consider an Obama presidency inevitable because he’s held a consistent lead in all the polls so far? Or, oh, wait, maybe “the US media” (who, exactly, is that anyway?) hasn’t really considered him a favorite at all — there’s simply only so much to say about Krusty McSame and his incoherent and limp platform.

But the Republicans are hopeful they have found an economic issue that resonates with the electorate: their candidate’s plan to increase drilling for oil in US waters and in a protected area of Alaska. Obama opposes the move.

First of all, since when has oil drilling itself been an economic issue for the electorate? Gas at $5 a gallon, sure, that’s an economic issue, but who the hell thinks drilling rights “resonates” with the average American? Secondly, as has been shown repeatedly — and even admitted by McCain and other Republican surrogates — drilling in Alaska isn’t going to change oil prices much — not at all in the short term, and by about 1 cent at most in the long term. The same goes for the offshore drilling canard. So rather than lamely pointing out that “Obama opposes the move” — and by the way, what “move?” is that exactly — MacAskill might have bothered stating something like “economists as well as Republican presidential candiates themselves have acknowledged that the ANWAR and offshore drilling issue is strictly PR smoke and mirrors and has no factual basis.” As it reads, MacAskill seems to have taken a page from the US playbook and lamely grabs for the “he said she said” play to make his coverage more interesting.

What a pathetic piece. I wonder if MacAskill is hoping to get a chance to sit in McCain’s extra-special good boy seat on the Straight Talk Express?