Arrest Of Obama's Uncle Fodder For Political Blogs

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President Obama's half-uncle, Onyanga Obama, was arrested in Framingham last Wednesday night for driving under the influence of alcohol.

At the time, the arrest made little news. In fact, it was only Monday that the story was picked up by The Associated Press and the national media.

When it was picked up at around 2 p.m. Monday afternoon, it didn't take long for the story to take off in the political blogosphere. Within hours, not only was the story of the uncle's arrest on hundreds of websites, but his police mug shot as well.

It's no surprise that it has taken political blogs by storm, Jeff Berry told Morning Edition's Bob Oakes. Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University, is writing a book on political media and says that this story's explosion has a lot to do with the structure of blogs — they're usually small operations continually grasping for fresh, popular content.

"It's a wonderful story for conservative blogs," Berry said. "It's an embarrassment for the president."

But should the media focus on a very distantly-related relative of a political figure?

"Any president's family is fair game," Berry said. "There have been lots of instances where there has been questionable behavior by family members... These are serious charges and the media is obligated to follow up on them."

This program aired on August 30, 2011.

Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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