Story of the Day: Michelle Obama is Killing Pedestrians

Whether you like Michelle Obama’s campaign called “Let’s Move“, you have to recognize that this attempt by the RW media to connect her to DEATHS is ridiculous.  Here’s the implication of what they reported: Mrs. Obama’s thoughtlessness in promoting her “let’s move!” program has indirectly killed people.  An implication that was created through an implication and a conflation between a story pitch and an interview.

The Obamas literally cannot do ANYTHING at all ever without some part of the loud-mouthed, hyperbolic “reporters” on the right side of the political spectrum trashing it, even when they have no evidence or reason for it, except that there is an Obama attached to it.  Even if they have to mislead or make up stuff out of thin air.

By the time I saw The Atlantic article on this, I just had to laugh.  It is just so incredibly absurd and yet so typical.  Watch out!  The Evil Obamas are out to get you!  Boo!

No less than SIX articles about this (two from the right, three correcting the right, and the ever-funny Wonkette) after the jump.

I first saw this in the morning when the Drudge Report linked to this article on TwitterMichelle Obama’s ‘Get Moving’ Program Linked to Pedestrian Deaths (by Mark Weaver at WMAL: AM 630)

The Governors Highway Safety Association says pedestrian deaths increased in the first half of 2010 and the First Lady’s program to get Americans to be more active could be partly responsible.

Governors Highway Safety Administration spokesman Jonathan Adkins told 630 WMAL that Michelle Obama is “trying to get us to walk to work and exercise a little bit more.  While that’s good, it also increases our exposure to risk.”

Exercise, iPods could be causing pedestrian deaths (by Scott McCabe at The Washington Examiner)

GHSA executive director Barbara Harsha said her organization doesn’t know why there were more deaths in the first six months of 2010 than in 2009, but the increase is notable because overall traffic fatalities went down 8 percent during this period, and the increase ends four straight years of steady declines in pedestrian deaths. But the “get moving” movement, led by Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to eliminate childhood obesity, could be to blame, Harsha told The Washington Examiner.

“There’s an emphasis these days to getting fit, and I think people doing that are more exposed to risk [of getting hit by a vehicle],” said Harsha, who conceded to having no scientific evidence that the Let’s Move campaign has led to an increase in walkers and runners, or deaths.

“This is all speculative,” Harsha said. “Obviously, further study is needed.” […]

Another culprit for the uptick in pedestrian deaths? The increasing use of technological devices, Harsha said.

Wondering Why Pedestrian Fatalities are Up?  Why Not Blame Michelle Obama (by Sarah Goodyear at The Grist)

This absurd implication would almost be worth ignoring completely, except that it has been gleefully picked up and run with by influential conservative blog The Daily Caller.

Another interesting thing about the story, as reported on the D.C. news blog TBD, is the reaction of the person whose quote is used to back up the absurdity. Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, said in an interview with TBD that she didn’t mean any such thing:

“In fact, Harsha tells us, she didn’t tell the Examiner that at all. “It’s ridiculous,” she says. According to Harsha, the First Lady’s fitness campaign never even came up in her discussion with [reporter Scott] McCabe. “Absolutely not,” she says, adding that she actually supports the “Let’s Move” campaign.”

Here’s that TBD article that has a response from McCabe:

Well, the folks at GHSA were awfully surprised when they read this morning’s paper. In fact, Harsha tells us, she didn’t tell the Examiner that at all. “It’s ridiculous,” she says. According to Harsha, the First Lady’s fitness campaign never even came up in her discussion with McCabe. “Absolutely not,” she says, adding that she actually supports the “Let’s Move” campaign.

But as McCabe points out to us, the Obama nugget came from the GHSA’s pitch to him for the story, which he passed along: “Why the increase? We don’t really know but speculate that it could be a couple factors. One is the possible increase in distracted pedestrians and distracted drivers. We’ve been focusing on the drivers, but perhaps we need to focus some attention on distracted walkers! Additionally, Mrs. Obama and others have been bringing attention to ‘get moving’ programs, so perhaps pedestrian exposure has increased.”

See – here’s the thing.  Let’s assume that McCabe is telling the complete truth about the GHSA pitch.  I have no reason to believe otherwise, right?  But Harsha says that in her interview with McCabe she never talked about the Let’s Move campaign.  That means that McCabe conflated these two things (the pitch and the interview).  He then wrote the article so that it heavily implied that Harsha said this about Let’s Move (the whole time knowing she didn’t).  To cover his ass, McCabe immediately qualified in the article the implication and the out-of-context quote by pointing out that there is “no scientific evidence” to back up either one, as if he knew that he would catch flak and so was preparing.  Now he can scream, “BUT I SAID THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE!”

It’s a textbook case of: there is no evidence that there is a connection but there is no evidence that there ISN’T a connection either.  He planted the seed that it could be Michelle Obama’s fault and that is enough for him.  People who want to hate on the Obamas and everything about Obama’s administration, people who read McCabe’s paper, they will not care about the qualification.  They won’t care about all the evidence, or the complete lack of it.  And if people like me call “objection!”, McCabe can recant, take it back, claim that he made sure to say there was no evidence to support the statement that he is implying Harsha said (did you follow that?) and then can just let the criticism roll off his back, happily knowing that his readers will have yet another thing for which hate the administration.  The Obamas and their socialist government programs that force you to go outside and result in dead pedestrians.  Or something like that…

It’s clear that McCabe recognizes that there is no actual reason to claim that Obama’s program MAY have caused pedestrian deaths except to make a sensational story out of literally nothing.  Nothing at all.  No study.  No evidence.  Just a conflation between a pitch and the tenor of an interview.  I don’t know why he thought Harsha would let it go without correcting it.

That’s the thing, though.  I don’t think he cared about whether it came out that Harsha hadn’t said any such thing or even implied it.  The story has clearly made the rounds exactly like McCabe wanted.  Kudos to him?  I’m sure he is mighty proud of his journalistic work today.

Highway Safety Director: First Lady’s Anti-Obesity Program Does Not Endanger Pedestrians (by Derek Thompson at The Atlantic)

“I was misquoted,” [Harsha] said immediately. “We in no way oppose Ms. Obama’s program.”

Instead, Harsha was trying to make a broad point about being an aware pedestrian. “We came out with a report about slight increase in pedestrian fatalities based on first six months of 2010, and we were speculating on potential causes” she said. “We think [one cause] is possibly distracted pedestrians or distracted drivers.

Finally, the best for last.  Michelle Obama’s Hatred of Fatsos Killing Pedestrians (by Jack Stuef at Wonkette)

Every news headline should include a question mark, because readers don’t turn to the news for facts, they turn to it for insinuation. And at least one individual at the Daily Caller caller understands this, gracing the world with this story: “Highway safety spokesperson blames pedestrian deaths on Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign?” Question mark indeed.


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