CNN Headlines’ Unattributed Smear

MediaBloodhound blogger Brad Jacobson (10/8/08) catches a CNN website headline he calls “extremely misleading”: “Ticker: Obama Actions Called ‘Not Presidential.'” Reasoning that “naturally, readers might think this refers to something Barack Obama did or said during last night’s debate” or at least “possibly a response from a cross-section of undecided voters in a new poll,” Jacobson writes that,

whatever readers might think, they would have no idea–unless or until they clicked on it–that this egregiously misleading headline was actually referring to a new John McCain attack ad.… Specifically, the linked headline took you to CNN‘s Political Ticker blog, which includes a brief blurb about the ad and three separate links to view it: One takes readers to YouTube, the other two to CNN Video, where, in both cases, the reader has to first sit through a commercial generating ad revenue for CNN before getting to the McCain ad.

By way of comparison, Jacobson also includes a screenshot of a subsequent headline “confirming the irresponsible wording of the original Obama headline”: Ticker: McCain Campaign ‘Appalling,’ Paper Says. Jacobson explains that “this McCain headline graciously–and correctly–afforded the signifier ‘paper says.'”