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Monday, September 26, 2011

Stop Being a Gullible Stooge or a Patsy!..

People are so easily manipulated by the media. 

Look, in these days of the Internet and extremely powerful search engines, there is no need for anyone to be willfully ignorant.  I think many people prefer ignorance:  They prefer to jump to a conclusion based on a headline or a couple of paragraphs, particularly if it reinforces their world view.

And the media know this as well.  They know that a few phrases and clauses carefully placed will cause vulnerable, gullible,and ignorant readers to jump to all kinds of faulty conclusions.  I came across this article in the Chicago Sun-Times a few days back which is a perfect example of such manipulation and shoddy reporting (unless the writers were, under orders from their superiors at the Chicago Sun-Times, supposed to turn this story into an anti-Obama piece.)

The headline is:  
Fraud case target grants awarded by President Obama's friend

O.K., it sounds as though a friend of President Obama was knowingly awarding fraudulent grants with perhaps some other kind of wrong-doing involved.  

If that's what you thought after reading the headline, you would be wrong.  For the article in the Chicago Sun-Times is about a woman who allegedly embezzled $500,000 from state government grants.  She's been indicted for this embezzlement, and her trial is supposed to start in December.

Good.  If she is indeed guilty, I'm glad that she was caught and will face trial and punishment.  Corruption, fraud, and waste in government needs to be rooted out.

Now, the head of ONE of the agencies who awarded this woman grants  is a friend of President Obama.  It's bad enough that the Chicago Sun-Times headlines the article using "fraud" and "obama" in the same headling, but it also leads off the article with a picture of Obama playing golf with this man, his long-time friend, Dr. Eric Whitaker.... as if Whitaker and Obama had something to do with this woman's fraud.

Quite frankly, the article is a shameful piece of reporting-- unless it is a blatant attempt by the Sun-Times or these authors to cast aspersions on Obama's character.  The article doesn't lie, but the headline and the first few paragraphs repeatedly make a spurious association with this woman and Whitaker, and from there to a connection with Obama himself.    Can you say "misleading and deceptive"?.

The article provides a great example of how a newspaper can manipulate the news to get the gullible, the vulnerable, and those with reading comprehension problems to "bite".

My question is why does the Sun-Times want to be involved in spreading lies, innuendo, and gossip about the President?  Isn't the Sun-Times supposed to be a respectable newspaper of one of our largest cities?  Why does the Sun-Times want to "get" Obama?    

Some facts about this that may or may not be evident from the deceptive article:  

1.  There was an investigation and the woman was indicted.  The woman received over a million dollars  worth of grants from four different state agencies, under at least FIVE different agency directors.  $225,000 worth of grants was received while Dr. Eric Whitaker, a friend of President Obama, was the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.  About $800,000 almost four times as much, was received from other state departments or from IDPH after Whitaker left the employ of the state of Illinois.

2.  Though the woman who has been indicted received many more grants and much more money from departments headed by other state officials, there is no article with any questions for or about those other state officials, some of whom still work for the state of Illinois, presumably because these other directors were not friends of Obama.    

3.  The friend of Obama, Dr. Eric Whitaker, no longer works for the state and has not worked for the state for 4 years.  Dr, Whitaker now works for the University of Chicago Hospitals.  The University of Chicago had nothing to do with this situation in any size, shape, or form.  The man's salary at the University of Chicago is listed in the article.  It sounds pretty hefty, but this is between him and the University of Chicago.  He is not paid by the government while working for the University of Chicago.  

4.  In the course of this investigation, the government emails of several current and former state officials were subpoened.  Nobody other than the woman who received the grants and her assistant were indicted as a part of this investigation.  Other non-profits who got grants may still be under investigation.  During Whitaker's tenure at IPDH, the agency gave out over 8,000 grants to about 240 different organizations and not-for-profits.    

5.  The woman who was indicted, Ms. Davis, (allegedly) committed fraud pure and simple. She included fraudulent information in her grant requests, and she diverted money that was earmarked for legitimate public purposes into her own personal slush fund.  The indicted woman never worked for the State of Illinois, and she never worked for Whitaker.  That's the size of it, pure and simple. You can read the details of the indictment in the FBI press release on this incident:
The indictment alleges that from December 2005 to June 2009,(Margaret) Davis, with the assistance of (a subordinate), who was acting under Davis’s direction, solicited and received more than $1,000,000 in various grants from Illinois state agencies, including $460,000 from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for the “Young Enough to Make a Difference Project.” According to the indictmentDavis represented that the project would be implemented in six Chicago high schools in one Illinois senatorial district that was designated as a health professional shortage and medically under-served area. As part of the scheme, the indictment alleges that Davis and Cook diverted as much as $500,000 or more for Davis’s and Cook’s personal use and benefit, including to benefit Davis’s family members, friends and associates.
6.  Though the woman had received some awards and praise from state officials including Whitaker, for her work on behalf of the nursing profession in the black community, there is no indication that Whitaker had anything to do with her graft and outright thievery.

7.  The question of whether or not any of the state agencies involved exercised due diligence in the awarding of this or any grant is a legitimate question, but, in this case, since the woman was caught and has been prosecuted, it actually shows that the system does work:   Somewhere along the line, she was investigated and caught.  Also, new policies and procedures have been put into place in the last year to strengthen grant oversight.

Again, absolutely no evidence that Whitaker or any of the other department heads had anything to do with this. Just a reporter or an editor who wants to toss dirt and make insinuations that the vulnerable will embrace.

This is really nothing.  Not an issue of national importance, at a time when there are so many major issues.  But it shows how easily people are led.  Please, people, stop being gullible and vulnerable!  Don't assume that anything you read about someone you don't like is "true" and anything you read about someone you like is "false".  

Learn when you are being used by the powers that be and fight for your free thought and your independence of spirit. Use your mental strength and your physical resources (like the Internet) in the pursuit of Truth.  Don't be had.

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