The right wing blogs had their tails in a knot over the weekend about a Missouri prosecutor claiming that “lies” against the candidate would be “prosecuted”.

Even Missouri governor Blout got into the act:

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment,” Blunt said in a written statement.

So what was going on? The silence of the Mainstream media either meant it was true and they were ignoring it, or that it wasn’t true, and they’re ignoring it anyway….no, no press bias in the US press….I mean, when it takes Saturday Night Live to inform people who don’t read Chicago papers about Obama’s Rezko problem, one has to be as skeptical about the media as one is of political blogs, whether they be Powerline or Andrew Sullivan.

But today, the local TV news reporter who was the source of the story clarified his story to the local paper.

“If they think a group has put out a misleading ad, they’re basically going to call a press conference and say the ad is misleading,” reporter John Mills told the News-Leader on Sunday. “I’m sure the Republicans would do the same thing.”

In his TV report, Mills said the prosecutors “also say that they plan to respond immediately to any ads and statements that might violate violate Missouri ethics laws.”

The confusion was caused by two things: One, that the reporter named those on Obama’s truth squad by identifying  them by their official titles as government prosecutors, which gave the impression that those named were acting in their official capacity. Second, by using the phrase “violate Missiouri Ethics laws” in the article, those reading or hearing the report were given the impression that untrue statements would be considered illegal, i.e. something that the prosecutors would act on in their offical capacity.

The clarification by the reporter is welcome; the next step is for the prosecutors to now resign from the Obama campaign, along with anyone else in either campaign who are government employees with prosecutorial power.

So one presumes Americans criticizing powerful politicians will be safe from being prosecuted for libel, smears and satire.

This is not true, however, in the Philippines where annoying bishops are prosecuted for libel and whistleblowers on schemes involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks are taken to court for their own petty corruption scams.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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