SF Chron Cuts Obama 'Pay Grade' Comment from Print Edition

It doesn't get much more obvious than this.

A San Francisco Chronicle article last Wednesday relating to growing concerns about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's recent campaign performances "evolved" in a quite convenient way for the Illinois senator by the time it got to the paper's print edition and went through its final web revision. That article, among other things, addressed Obama's appearance at Rick Warren's Saddleback Values forum the previous weekend.

The current entry at Google News, obtained by searching "That's above my pay grade" (entered in quotes), reads as follows:

SFchronGoogNewsObama082008

Although it's framed in a very biased way ("thoughtful but fuzzier"?), at least a reference to Obama's infamous "That's above my pay grade" comment is present (the original transcript segment containing that remark is here).

Wait until you see what happened next.

I copied a text string within that Google News result, and was able to gain access to an earlier cached version of the article (saved at my host in the event the cache goes away), written up by Chronicle Political Writer Carla Marinucci. It doesn't have a normal web page appearance, but it does appear to contain what would have been the article's full text, including the Google News result text cited above.

That text consists of 24 paragraphs. Paragraph 16 says:

And Obama's thoughtful but fuzzier answers to questions about when human rights begin ("that's above my pay grade") were a clear contrast - and not a good one - to McCain's head-on approach that it was "at the moment of conception," he says.

But if you click on the original Google News link itself, you get taken to a revised version of the article ("Bad news should wake up Obama, experts say").

At the bottom of that linked page, we are told that "This article appeared on page A-1 of the San Francisco Chronicle." So this is what print edition readers got to see.

But what they got to see contains only 23 paragraphs. The one removed was -- you guessed it -- the one that referred to Obama's "pay grade" comment.

The only other difference I found between the cached and print version was one spelling correction, changing "jiu-jitsuing" to "jujitsuing" in the tenth paragraph. Otherwise the two are the same, word for word.

So at some point, the full original 24-paragraph report was available on the web; otherwise, my original Google News search would not have picked it up. But the "offending paragraph was later deemed to be unworthy of the print edition, and was also removed from the web edition. Now you can't find that paragraph on the web any more without engaging in workaround tactics.

Don't even try to tell me that traditional media outlets aren't doing everything they can to cover for Barack Obama.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.