Misleading? People Magazine's 'Election Cheat Sheet' Tilts In Favor of 'Barry'

The brand new (November 17) People magazine just arrived in mailboxes (like ours), and it contains a two-page “Election Cheat Sheet.” Under “Vital Stats,” it lists “Barack Hussein Obama, 51: A.K.A. ‘Barry’ to his childhood friends. ‘[My father] probably used Barry because it was easier to pronounce,’ Obama has written.”

Now for low-information voters, couldn’t this be misconstrued as (a) Obama had a father who was present in his life for more than two weeks and (b)Obama had a father who was not also named Barack Obama? In Obama's writing, his father is using "Barry" for himself, not his son.

As a more educated voter might guess, People is quoting from Obama’s memoir Dreams From My Father, (page 104), a tome haunted by the absent father, in which a friend likes calling him Barack better, and he explained “Barry” is more informal, more of a “fit-in” name:

“So why does everybody call you Barry?”

“Habit, I guess. My father used it when he arrived in the States. I don’t know whether that was his idea or somebody else’s. He probably used Barry because it was easier to pronounce. You know—helped him fit in. Then it got passed on to me. So I could fit in.”

Romney's nickname comes like this: "Willard Mitt Romney, 65: A.K.A. Ike, nickname used by his grandkids." People then lists that Romney has three homes and four cars. "HOMES: Three, house in La Jolla, Calif; lake house in New Hampshire; Belmont, Mass. town house. CARS: Four. Mrs. Romney surprised him with a red convertible Mustang for his 60th. 'He just loves cars, the poor guy.'"

Obama has two homes, a "Georgian revival in Chicago's Hyde Park" and the "White House (loaned)" and for cars, just "Secret Service vehicles." It doesn't state that Obama bought his Chicago house with a loan co-signed by the wife of Tony Rezko -- who's currently in prison.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis