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the Obama "Coal" Hysteria: How The GOP, Drudge, Sean Hannity, Palin Pushed Fabricated News

Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter were breathless. Breathless! with excitement.  A hidden audiotape of Obama had been discovered!  Two days before the election! Obama caught on tape saying he will "bankrupt" the coal industry!

”Barack Obama explained his plan to the San Francisco Chronicle this year,” railed Sarah Palin at a rally in Ohio today. ”He said that sure, if the industry wants to build coal-fired power plants, then they can go ahead and try, he says, but they can do it only in a way that will bankrupt the coal industry.”

”Why is the audiotape just now surfacing?” Palin asked.  The crowd shouted, ”Liberal media!’

Except none of it was true.  Palin’s comments are a gross distortion of Obama’s remarks and the so-called "hidden" tape was well-known to everyone here in California and presumably the Republican National Committee, which has surely combed through every Obama soundbite, and then some. 

The transcript has always available on the San Francisco Chronicle SFGate website and the audio is available here - and have been for months. 

The GOP would really have us believe they weren’t aware of this interview?

According to the San Francisco Chronical, the dark, conspiratorial version of events showed up on Newsbusters, a blog SF Chron rightly calls "shady."  The Republican National Committee subsequently distributed the story far and wide, then conveniently refused to retract it.  Drudge picked it up, and so did Sean Hannity.  

I mean…are the Republican National Committee, Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity - and, oh, yes, let’s not forget the fact checkers at Fox News - implying here they don’t know how to conduct a rudimentary Google search, using such simple search phrases as "Obama SFGate interview."  A simple Google search would have unearthed the interview.

This is from Spin Cycle, the blog of San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci:

Let’s be very clear: the Chronicle did not, and has never, hidden any interview, audio or video, of Obama from its readers.

The truth: the paper’s January editorial board session with Obama included comments about coal. The entire interview has been in the public domain, available on line to the public — and to the McCain campaign — since early January.

”How can anyone suggest that we hid an interview that we did, immediately put up on the web — and advertised to our readers,” said editorial page editor John Diaz Sunday, regarding his hosting of Obama at the session. ”We promoted it like like hell…and I’m sure the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign scrubbed it. You can still find the whole 48 minutes and 33 seconds on line.”

A final note: the shoddy Newsbusters blog has been caught in the past simply fabricating news regarding the Chronicle’s coverage. Our paper has demanded corrections for their fiction, but to no avail.

We contacted Bill Riggs, regional press secretary of the Republican National Committee tonight on his emailing of this erroneous report suggesting a ”hidden” Chronicle audiotape to political reporters. His response: he didn’t confirm it, or write the headline. He just sent it out.