This story has slowly been picking up steam lately…
Rumors have been floating around for a while that, at a debate three years ago, Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (Republican) was pelted with Oreo cookies (the implication was that the gesture was a racist attempt at suggesting that Steele was “black on the outside and white on the inside”). The “event” has been used by some right-wingers to paint Democrats in a negative light on race issues.
The rumors have picked up so much steam that numerous news outlets have begun reporting it as fact, despite the fact that there has been no independent confirmation of this report. Quite the opposite: there’s been much evidence to suggest that such an incident never occurred.
The Baltimore City Paper does a nice write-up of this situation and includes this quote from former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig:
That’s insane,” says former Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, who covered Ehrlich in the 2002 campaign, and who says she didn’t see any Oreos that night. “The air was not thick with anything except political bullshit.”
That hasn’t stopped The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The Sun, the (London) Daily Telegraph, the Associated Press, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, and this paper, among others, from reporting as fact, without transparent sourcing or attribution, some version of the incident over the years.
The Washington Times seems to have reported Oreo-gate as fact more consistently and forcefully than anyone else, according to the City Paper piece.
The entire article is worth a read, and it’s a great insight into how the spin cycle can overtake reporting when journalists and editors let some Oreos slip through the cracks…
(Media Matters has more here)