Last week I blogged on the attribution to President Obama that he wanted to deport “the worst of the worst” in articles and blogs. In the context of the articles and blogs, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s announced (but hardly yet implemented) policy of exercising prosecutorial discretion and not deporting everyone currently in removal proceedings, the writers give the impression that the President considers millions of people who may be subject to deportation as the worst people in the United States and he wants to deport the worst of these worst people.
I spent some time searching around in the internet to try to find an actual time and place the President said such a thing. I did this because I was skeptical that a highly intelligent and (overly) cautious man like President Obama would ever characterize millions of people as the “worst.” After all, he is no Keith Olbermann and even Mr. Olbermann does not characterize millions of people as the “worst” – limiting the title to just one person at a time. I speculated that he may have said it in a different context or may have said something like this during the campaign for President when all kinds of dumb stuff is said – like about retardation and HPV vaccinations (I thought we were not allowed to use the “r” word.) I found no quote with a time or place where the President said “worst of the worst.”
I invited readers to find me a source so I could lambast the President for calling millions of people “the worst.” I contacted five news organizations, columnists, political operatives, and bloggers to ask where they got the term. Two simply sent me links to AP or Fox News stories which did not give a time or place for the president saying such a thing. I contacted a political operative for President Obama to ask if he could provide a source. He wrote me that he could find no reference and agreed with me that President Obama was too fine a person to call millions of people “the worst” and if he did say it, it was in a much more limited context. One columnist of relative prominence, sent me this response:
That quote is from an AP wire story and I can find no sign that the White House has denied it or that AP has issued a correction. So for now I’m prepared to assume it was accurate.
The challenge is still out there – contact me and let me know when the President said “worst of the worst.” Extra points to the person who shows me where he said it in the context of millions of deportable people.
And a second challenge (a big week for the interactively minded) – guess the name of the columnist/journalist who sent the response I quoted above. A hint – he shares the first name of a mid-20th century United States senator who many consider “the worst of the worst,” who was taken down by a journalist who said this, “The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.” Another hint, the television report that brought down the senator was aired the same year this columnist/journalist was born. Posted September 24, 2011.