A bit of campaign controversy broke out Monday morning, after Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign and members of the media pointed to a serious inaccuracy in an anti-Obama op-ed by New York Times columnist Bill Kristol.
At the heart of the debate is whether or not Obama attended a sermon by his now controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright decrying America's complicity in the Iraq war and the "arrogance of the 'United States of White America.'"
Kristol, citing only an already-disputed article in Newsmax, says yes. Obama, supported by several news articles and video footage, says he was campaigning in Miami (which was not outlawed by the Democratic Party at the time).
But according to the Washington Post's presidential tracker, Obama did, in fact, make an "appearance" in Chicago on the morning in question: July 22, 2002. He also, later in the day, flew to Miami for a speech.
Obama's spokesperson Tommy Vietor confirmed that the schedule was accurate but stressed that the senator did not make a stop at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ.
"We have reviewed his schedule," he wrote. "He didn't go to church that day."
Which is perfectly plausible. Just because Obama was in Chicago doesn't mean he attended church. But he was, in fact, in Chicago that morning.
Of course, not to be lost in all of this is the fantastically poor job Kristol did in his column in which he apparently failed to run a basic Google search, or, for that matter, call the Obama campaign.
The Times must be proud.
UPDATE: It goes from bad to worse. The Newsmax reporter now writes that the sermon he was referring to could have been on any given Sunday of July 2007. And Bill Kristol has added the following correction to his column online:
In this column, I cite a report that Sen. Obama had attended services at Trinity Church on July 22, 2007. The Obama camapaign has provided information showing that Sen. Obama did not attend Trinity that day. I regret the error.
For the record, Obama was in Chicago on July 15, 2007, according to the Washington Post.