What the Obama Campaign and Joe Arpaio Have in Common

By John Dickerson

Here in Maricopa County, we’re all too familiar with politicians who punish media outlets they don't like. New Times readers know that right-wing Sheriff Joe Arpaio retaliates against media outlets he despises, refusing to give them interviews or even press releases. His pal and colleague County Attorney Andrew Thomas isn't much different.

Barack Obama, ranked by one survey as the most liberal senator in the United States, doesn't have much in common with Arpaio or Thomas, but Obama's campaign last week stole a move from the sheriff's playbook – punishing a media outlet that it perceived as unfriendly.

Last Thursday, WFTV in Orlando, an ABC affiliate, asked VP-candidate Joe Biden some tough questions. Many of them were more leading than a seeing-eye dog and seemed like the kind typically thrown out there on Fox News. Since the interview, it has also surfaced that the reporter's husband has donated money to GOP candidates.

In fairness to the reporter, she also fired leading questions at John McCain today, quizzing him about military spending, why Obama is winning in poles and reports of infighting between him and Palin.

At the climax of the Biden interview, anchorwoman Barbara West asked about Obama’s past and recent comments about “redistribution of wealth” or “spreading the wealth.” West quoted Karl Marx’s famous statement: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” Then she asked how Obama is not being Marxist in his plans to redistribute wealth.

To which Biden replied with a smile, “Are you joking? Is, is this a joke, or is that a real question?”

“No, that’s a question,” West said.

Biden laughed, and then said, “He is not spreading the wealth around. He is talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have…It’s a ridiculous comparison.”

West then questioned Biden about his statement that Obama would be tested during his first year in office. Biden replied, “I don’t know who’s writing your questions.”

Obama’s campaign responded by canceling the TV station’s scheduled interview with Biden’s wife, and by writing that “further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election."

At best.

Maybe it's all about perspective. Those who favor Obama-Biden may agree that the TV station should be blacklisted. Sort of like those who favor Arpaio-Thomas having no problem with New Times being blacklisted.

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John Dickerson
Contact: John Dickerson