Is Jay Severin making up quotations?

In Jay Severin’s blog today, he writes:

There has been considerable evidence that this President is fundamentally out of touch with many of us – but none more head-shaking to me than news the Obama’s ordered their White House staff "nothing religious for Christmas…no manger, no statues, nothing…”

That was a rather eye-popping quote, so I immediately Googled [obama “nothing religious for christmas”]. I got one hit: Jay’s blog. So I googled [Obama manger display], and that led me to this Wall Street Manna blog post. That post, in turn, led me to a New York Times article about White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, which seems to have been the original source for the story about the White House Christmas display. Here’s what the Times said on the matter:

…Washington is a city that likes its traditions, and Ms. Rogers has raised a few eyebrows by trying to bend them. When former social secretaries gave a luncheon to welcome Ms. Rogers earlier this year, one participant said, she surprised them by suggesting the Obamas were planning a “non-religious Christmas” — hardly a surprising idea for an administration making a special effort to reach out to other faiths.

The lunch conversation inevitably turned to whether the White House would display its crèche, customarily placed in a prominent spot in the East Room. Ms. Rogers, this participant said, replied that the Obamas did not intend to put the manger scene on display — a remark that drew an audible gasp from the tight-knit social secretary sisterhood. (A White House official confirmed that there had been internal discussions about making Christmas more inclusive and whether to display the crèche.)

Yet in the end, tradition won out; the executive mansion is now decorated for the Christmas holiday, and the crèche is in its usual East Room spot.

It’s one thing for Jay Severin to take that story and spin it wildly to suggest that the Obamas are somehow anti-Christmas, but the use of quotation marks in Jay’s blog to imply that the President had explicitly banned religious display from the White House is misleading and a breach of blogging etiquette.

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  1. Greg
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink


    Don Imus said the same thing about Obama the same day Jay did. As did Michael Graham. Did they all get ti wrong? It wasn’t just Jay. I’m not an “Obamunist” or an anti Obama pundit… but I can beleive it since more than one source talked about it. Even the liberal Eagan and Braudie tossed this about for several segments. Blame Jay for alot of rhetoric but he got this one right.

  2. DavidFromBrighton
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Greg, I’m not denying the entire incident. I’m not saying there was no discussion among WH staff or even by POTUS or FLOTUS themselves about what decorations would be put up. But I have yet to see a credible source put the words “nothing religious for Christmas … no manger, no statues, nothing” in the President’s mouth. I have a feeling that those specific words were uttered either by Ms. Rogers, or more likely some other pundit, or quite possible by no one at all other than Jay Severin. Jay is very quick to correct callers with “that’s not what I said.” If he insists on being quoted accurately he should show the same deference to others.

  3. Greg C
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Of course Don Imus and Michael Graham said the same thing about the White House Christmas display – that’s how many shows at WTKK) work. One host starts with a half-truth and spins it to their favor (often against Obama) and this lie is promoted throughout the day on several shows (to be fair mostly Michael Graham, Jay Severin and Michele Mcphee) until suddenly it is accepted as the truth. If you spend a couple days listening to the station, as I did during the summer when I had some extra time, it is painfully and pathetically obvious how thin all their “material” is- it would be laughable except for the fact that there is an audience for this crap posing as news

  4. Posted January 6, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The moron Jay Severino was up to his old tricks of misinforming his audience once again yesterday (1/5/10). He claimed that prior to 9/11 the world trade center towers were the tallest in the world. He was wrong. There were at least 4 other taller buildings at the time. Severino was advocating that the U.S. attack and destroy the tall buildings in Arab nations so as to “get even”. This guy is a psychopath.

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