Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sylvia Smith Defends Sinclair's National Press Club Event; Doubts His Credibility

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette's Washington editor, Sylvia Smith, defended a decision of the National Press Club as its president to allow Larry Sinclair to hold a press event on June 18 at the club, although she says she doesn't find Sinclair's sex and drug allegations against Sen. Barack Obama credible. The NPC has come under fire from blogs on the Left who support Obama for allowing Sinclair a stage to tell his story. Politico's Ben Smith writes:

The president of the National Press Club today defended the club's playing host to allegations against Barack Obama from a fringe figure, Larry Sinclair, whose claims have been widely ignored by the news media.

"I'm not aware that we've ever turned anybody away for content," said Sylvia Smith, who is the Washington editor of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, adding that Sinclair's allegations — of sex and drug use by Obama — "don't seem very credible."

She said the Press Club, along with staging its own events, also rents space in its downtown Washington, D.C., headquarters to anyone willing to pay the fees.

"Would I pop my head in to the press conference? I doubt it. I have better things to do," she said of Sinclair's gathering.

A range of liberal blogs, including FireDogLake, DailyKos, TalkingPointsMemo, MyDD, and — the last a center for pro-Clinton, anti-Obama organizing in the primaries — are pressing the Press Club to cancel the event, which is scheduled for June 18, and circulating a petition with more than 7,000 signatures.

The activists complain that the use of the press club offers what one calls a "sheen of legitimacy" to a man who, among other credibility questions, failed a polygraph test.

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