The NYT's Most Anti-McCain, Misleading Headline of the Week

Many of you are aware of the kerfuffle surrounding the "cone of silence" complaint being ginned up by the Obama campaign after the recent Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency on Saturday, August 16. The claim made by Obama and his willing accomplices in the Old Media (like Andrea Mitchell, not to mention the DailyKos) is that John McCain "cheated" by hearing the questions proffered to Obama, who was first up to be questioned by moderator Rick Warren. McCain's answers were just too glib, the Obama meme posits, so he must have heard the questions ahead of time instead of being placed in an area off stage where he could not hear the proceedings. Yes, they are saying he cheated.

On Sunday, August 17, The New York Times did its level best to assist the Obama campaign to further that mistaken conception -- well, all right, that outright lie -- even as they debunked the story. How? By making their headline seem to support the Obama claim that McCain cheated, that's how.

Now, remember, that the claim from the Obama camp is that John McCain somehow snuck out of the "cone of silence" he was supposed to be in while backstage. This so-called "cone of silence" was supposed to be an area backstage where McCain was not able to hear the questioning. Keep in mind that the Obama camp is saying McCain left this area unauthorized and that he, therefore, cheated. Now check out the New York Times headline:

Despite Assurances, McCain Wasn’t in a ‘Cone of Silence’

Now, if you were to read only this headline and skip the story, it would seem to verify that the Obama campaign was right. McCain was not in this "cone of silence." It would be very easy to conclude that McCain then did hear the questions and did cheat. And it isn't just the headline. The first short paragraph also made it seem as if Obama was right about his "cheating" charge.

Senator John McCain was not in a “cone of silence” on Saturday night while his rival, Senator Barack Obama, was being interviewed at the Saddleback Church in California.

But wait. It turns out that John McCain wasn't even at the venue to hear the questions.

...Mr. McCain was in his motorcade on the way to the church as Mr. Obama was being interviewed... Mr. McCain had not heard the broadcast of the event while in his motorcade and heard none of the questions.

So, yes, he wasn't in the vaunted "cone of silence" but he also wasn't any where near the stage where the questions were being asked and that means he certainly did not "cheat" as the Obama camp and the Old Media are charging.

Unfortunately, while the Times gets points for telling the full truth eventually, the first paragraph and the headline seem to support the opposite of the truth and casual readers that only read headlines and the first few lines are easily led to imagine that Obama's charges are correct.

So, the ignominious, but ingenious, prize for most misleading headline of the week goes to The New York Times for its Obama leaning treatment of this McCain smear.