Times Mimics Post in Bashing of McCain's Ad Linking Obama to Franklin Raines

Julie Bosman says a McCain claim linking Obama to former Fannie Mae Executive Director Frankling Raines "is totally unsupported by the facts." Her takes rehashes a previous story by the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs, down to a cliche about "whole cloth" and a similar factual error.

Saturday's "Ad Campaign" fact-check by Julie Bosman, "McCain Tries to Link Obama to Financial Crisis," dealt with a new McCain ad hitting backat Obama over the financial crisis by linking him to former Fannie Mae Chief Executive Franklin Raines.

The ad claims that Raines "advises him" (Obama) on "mortgage and housing policy," and bolstered that assertion with quotes to that effect from the Washington Post. The Times seems to think it bad for McCain to trust the Post. Yet as shown below, Bosman seems comfortable with repeating the Washington Post's own fact-checking of the McCain ad.

Here's part of Bosman's take:

ACCURACY This advertisement forced a series of heated attacks between the McCain and Obama campaigns beginning on Thursday, a debate that was left unresolved by the end of Friday. What is clear is that the McCain campaign has left the strong impression that Mr. Raines, a former chief executive of Fannie Mae who was ousted in 2004 amid an investigation over its accounting practices, is a close adviser to Mr. Obama, a suggestion that is totally unsupported by the facts. But the advertisement's basic assertion is not a whole-cloth fabrication. The Post reported on July 16, in a Style-section article on Mr. Raines, that he had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters."

Bosman reported that Obama camp had not questioned the claim, but is now demanding a correction to the original article from the Post.

In her fact-checking piece, Bosman appears to be relying heaving on an earlierfact-check from Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post posted on Friday, right down tomatching "whole cloth" cliches. Casting his own paper's reporting into doubt to shield Obama, Dobbs wrote for the Post:

So what evidence does the McCain campaign have for the supposed Obama-Raines connection? It is pretty flimsy, but it is not made up completely out of whole cloth. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers points to three items in the Washington Post in July and August. It turns out that the three items (including an editorial) all rely on the same single conversation, between Raines and a Washington Post business reporter, Anita Huslin, who wrote a profile of the discredited Fannie Mae boss that appeared July 16.

Another clue that Bosman relied on Dobbs' reporting: Dobbs originally erred in saying the Huslin piece appeared in the paper's Style section, when in fact it was the Business section. Dobbs quietly corrected the detail on his blog, but Bosman repeated Dobbs' original error -that Huslin's article appeared in the Style section.