Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech Tuesday was a transparent attempt to quell the controversy over his ties to fiery anti-American minister Jeremiah Wright. But the New York Times, along with the rest of the media, portrayed the speech just the way the Obama camp would have wanted -- as a transcendent address on race in America, past, present and future, with Obama's long connection to Wright a secondary matter.
It was an extraordinary moment -- the first black candidate with a good chance at becoming a presidential nominee, in a country in which racial distrust runs deep and often unspoken, embarking at a critical juncture in his campaign upon what may be the most significant public discussion of race in decades.
Are Reverend Wright’s anti-American sermons simply taken out of context? According to "View" co-hosts Sherri Shepherd and Barbara Walters they are. Sherri Shepherd first made excuses for Wright claiming "he suffered racism full force,"and then added viewers are not getting the full context and any of "The View" co-hosts could be tagged as racist with a sound bite.
Barbara Walters concurred noting that in Joy Behar calling Barack Obama "literate" could be taken as a racial slur. Elisabeth Hasselbeck struck back challenging the co-hosts to "put [Reverend Wright’s inflammatory remarks] in a context that sounds good. It doesn’t."
Joy Behar, who does not even know the Constitution and its history, took a shot at President Bush’s intelligence labeling him illiterate and claiming if he were to give a speech about race, "it would be about NASCAR."
Barack Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, made excuses for Obama’s association by comparing it to her family remaining loyal to the Catholic Church despite the sex abuse scandal. Barbara Walters called Obama a "uniter" and hopes the pastor’s words do not "taint" Obama’s presidential aspiration.
Joy Behar made an apples and oranges comparison that members of her family should not be "indicted" for continuing attendance at the Catholic Church after the sex abuse scandal. Behar excused Obama’s long time relationship with an anti-American minister, but scolded John McCain for a random supporter calling Hillary Clinton a "bitch." Does Behar grant more leeway for a Democrat than a Republican, or is she more offended by anti-Hillary comments than anti-American ones?
Following Monday’s sanitized coverage of the controversial comments of Barack Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show" continued to gloss over the most inflammatory of Wright’s comments, spending over 6 minutes on Obama’s upcoming speech on the issue while devoting only 16 seconds of video to Wright’s more mild statements. Following this video, co-host Russ Mitchell asked left-wing commentator Nancy Giles: "How careful does he [Obama] have to be today not to denounce Jeremiah Wright and make some black voters angry?"
The rest of the analysis with Giles, who was ‘balanced’ with Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, was entirely about political strategy, not about Wright’s statements. Mitchell asked Trippi about the possibility of race affecting Obama’s appeal: "Joe Trippi, sticking with the risk factor for a second. There are folks out there who are going to look at Barack Obama, who's made no secret of the fact that he's black of course...And look at this speech and say 'you know what honey, I just realized something today, he brought up race. Barack Obama is black.' How risky is that in this speech?"
Roland Martin, a talk radio host out of Chicago and contributor to CNN, appearing on the network immediately Barack Obama’s "race speech" on Tuesday morning, compared the reaction to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s much-publicized comments to the reaction to the Catholic sex scandal. Co-anchor Heidi Collins asked, "He [Obama] didn't disagree strong enough to go to a different church though. He stayed for many, many years. How do you think that will play?" Martin’s responded, "But frankly, I think that is irrelevant, because I don't -- look, I was born and raised Catholic. The first 25 years of my life of my life, I was Catholic.... And there are a number of people out there who are still Catholic today, even though the Church dropped the ball when it came to the whole issue of sex offenders, and some who left. But that's fine. But the reality is a person's faith is a personal decision."
Martin made similar comments on Monday’s "Newsroom" program during a discussion of Rev. Wright’s comments with co-anchor Don Lemon and Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus at the bottom of the 3 pm Eastern hour. "[Y]ou have a number of people who have said that, for Catholics, will you leave the Catholic Church because of what the church did when it came to sexual abuse victims? And you know what? A lot of folks have stayed."
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. -- Barack Obama, Huffington Post, March 14, 2008
The key question before Barack Obama today was the one going to his integrity: was he was telling the truth when he claimed in his HuffPo piece of March 14th that he never heard Wright make, in public or private, the remarks "that are the cause of this controversy"?
During the roundtable segment on Monday's The Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty compared the racist and anti-American words of Barack Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, to Jerry Falwell's and Pat Robertson's condemnation of the many abortions in America. Cafferty, who in January suggested that abortion is a "crap" issue, asserted: "How is this different than John McCain chasing after Pat Robertson or the late Reverend Jerry Falwell, who talk about how we have a culture of murdering unborn children in this country and that we've turned into Sodom because we coddled the gay community in this country? I mean, to me, that stuff is considerably more offensive than decrying racial violence and intolerance in this country, which members of the black community have some firsthand knowledge of." (Transcript follows)
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," a total of over 13 minutes of coverage was given to the controversy involving comments of Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but only 16 seconds was given to play video of Wright’s comments, video which did not include some of the Reverend’s most shocking comments that September 11 was caused by U.S. foreign policy or that the AIDS virus was part of a government plot against the black community.
The coverage began with a report from CBS correspondent Dean Reynolds, who suggested the media was paying too much attention to the story: "For days now the news media have recycled Reverend Wright's sermons or at least their most inflammatory parts." That was followed by a relatively mild 3 second clip of Wright declaring: "Not God bless America! God damn America!" Reynolds went on to explain that: "Obama has denounced that and other anti-American statements, though the Senator says he never heard such comments before from the man who was his spiritual mentor." Reynolds never mentioned what those other "anti-American statements" were.
The Early Show did its best this morning to help Barack Obama climb out of the hole he's dug for himself with his close association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
In a set-up segment, CBS's Dean Reynolds rhetorically asked: "the question is whether the rhetoric is so remarkable, because in African-American churches pastors often seek to rouse their congregants to self-reliance by speaking harshly about the country's troubled racial past and the need to overcome it."
Nice try, but how does accusing the US government of introducing AIDS and giving black people drugs equate to a call for self-reliance?
Reynolds concluded by stating that the Obama campaign is concerned that its candidate has been "victimized" in the same way the Trinity church claims Rev. Wright has.
Then it was on to a Russ Mitchell interview of the Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, III of Harlem's famed Abyssinian Baptist Church. The thrust of Mitchell's questions and Rev. Butts' responses was that the controversy is being blown out of proportion, that fiery rhetoric is a tradition in black churches with roots in the Bible and even in the words of Jesus. Moreover, it would be wrong to expect congregants to criticize their pastors' words.
One set of facts, two diametrically different NYT op-eds addressing it this morning. The fact: that Barack Obama is backpedaling as fast as he can away from the hateful anti-American rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright. The op-eds: Bill Kristol's, offering a dose of sobering realism about Obama's feet that if not of clay, then are certainly those of a garden-variety politician.
And then there's Roger Cohen's, the Obama fan who, in a bit of breathtaking revisionism, would explain away Barack's moonwalk on the theory the candidate has simply "grown beyond" the problematic preacher. And Cohen's just fine with that.
Many in the newsmedia are reacting with quite restraint to the revelations of comments by Obam's racist "spiritual mentor," Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. Imagine if this were a Republican politician linked to such outrageous talk and you'll realize how the MSM has been studiously underplaying this controversy. A benefit of the doubt seems to be the rule of thumb for how the media is treating Obama, a benefit that would be denied a GOP candidate.
But, as ABC's Jake Tapper asked concerning Obama's knowledge of Wright's racist rants: What did Obama know and when did he know it? In this posting Tapper finds that Obama was distancing himself from Wright a year ago causing the question to be raised if Obama long ago wondered if Wright would be a liability? But, there is video of Obama lovingly introducing Wright even after that proving not only that Obama is very, very close to Rev. Wright, but also that he was not distancing himself from the man at all.
How much trouble is Barack Obama in over the extremism of Jeremiah Wright? Enough that Dem strategist Donna Brazile has been reduced to arguing that as black preachers go, Wright is relatively moderate. Enough that the normally affable Brazile got a bit short with Time editor Mark Halperin, he of the infamous memo to his subordinates during the 2004 presidential campaign while serving as ABC News political director.
The comments came during the panel discussion on today's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC.
The liberal media has a simple policy about the religion of candidates. Democratic front-runners are "devout Christians," whether they go to church or not, since liberalism and the Lord’s work are pretty much the same thing. Republicans are the ones whose religious beliefs and associations are approached with fear and loathing.
Take one recent eruption from Obama about so-called gay marriage, as reported by CNSNews.com. "If people find that controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans." The scowling echo in that phrase disturbed many, that a Christian would say this piece of the Bible is true, and that other line of God’s word is obscure and worth ignoring. Is Obama trying to assemble today’s version of Thomas Jefferson’s bible, cutting out only the passages that display the Jesus he believes in, and shredding the rest?
Rolling Stone Gives Obama Campaign Some Free Damage Control
Back on Feb. 22nd, Rolling Stone published their in depth story (6-pages on the net) about Barack Obama's "charisma" under the title, "The Radical Roots of Barack Obama." However, the story has lately been retitled "Destiny's Child." One might wonder why Rolling Stone made the sudden change avoiding the word "radical"... unless, that is, one were living under a rock and isn't aware of the trouble Barack is lately having with the anti-American and racist ranting of his "spiritual mentor," the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.
Many hard questions arise over Rolling Stone's self-censorship. Why did they make the title change? Why did they feel "radical" was good this morning, but not later the same day? Does Rolling Stone regret not having the journalistic integrity to stand for what they originally wrote? Why did they not append a notice about the title change to the story? More pointedly, has Rolling Stone registered as official Obama Campaign staffers? After all, they are obviously offering Barack some free damage control.
I've enjoyed Tucker Carlson's show and can't let it pass into history, as it did last night, without a mention here. MSNBC has said that Tucker will remain at the network as an at-large commentator, and I have a feeling that, liberated from show-host concerns, he might become even more uninhibited in the expression of his quirkily conservative/libertarian views.
So let's usher Tucker out by focusing on one of our favorite nemeses, Rosa Brooks, the liberal LA Times columnist who appeared on the show's final episode. The unreconstructed Obama apologist offered the lamest excuse yet for his failure to have disassociated himself earlier from the ugly rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright: Barack simply wasn’t paying attention in the pews.
How's this for a balanced Today panel to discuss the impact of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's extremism on Barack Obama: two liberals who agree it shouldn't hurt him, with one suggesting the situation might even help Obama?
The panel discussion was preceded by a segment narrated by Lee Cowan, the NBC correspondent covering the Obama campaign who has admitted "it's almost hard to remain objective" about Barack. Cowan buttressed his case in that regard. After playing the clip of Rev. Wright using the n-word to make an invidious comparison between Obama and Hillary, Cowan claimed the words were "old." True--if Cowan considers December, 2007, when Wright uttered them--ancient history.
Then it was on weekend co-anchor Amy Robach's interview of Michael Dyson and Melinda Hennenberger. Dyson, who as Robach noted is an Obama supporter, is a Georgetown professor and MSNBC political analyst. He has in the past garnered headlines for his fierce criticism of Bill Cosby, claiming among other things that Cosby "battered poor blacks" with his calls for self-reliance.
Who cares if our next president has chosen as his "spiritual guide" someone who calls on God to damn America, and believes the US brought 9-11 on itself? Completely off track! Let's get back to the important stuff. You know, like the fine print of the candidate's plan to nationalize health care.
That in a nutshell is Anderson Cooper's kvetch about the controversy over the outrageous statements made by Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., the pastor of Barack Obama's church and the man Obama has described as his spiritual guide and advisor.
Cooper made his comments on his 360 show this evening.
ANDERSON COOPER: Is this just the kind of thing that happens in campaigns? It seems we're almost at a point now where it's this or other issues for the Clinton campaign where people are just latching onto anything to strike a blow against their opponent. All this seems to have nothing to do with actual issues that the country is facing which these candidates should be talking about and we probably should be talking about.
At the end of a Good Morning America segment today about Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., an Obama campaign representative complained that John McCain's pastor had not been similarly "vetted." If that's true, then ABC or some other media outlet surely should and will do so.
Let's imagine that upon vetting, McCain's pastor is found to have made statements that were the mirror-image of those that Rev. Wright has made. How long would McCain remain a viable candidate? Judge for yourself, based on Rev. Wright's statements as exposed in the GMA segment that was the result of work by ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. GMA aired a number of clips from sermons Rev. Wright gave at his Trinity United Church of Christ.
JEREMIAH WRIGHT: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America. God damn America! It's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating its citizens as less than human!"
On Friday, the NPR chat show Fresh Air with Terry Gross (aired on over 400 stations from WHYY in Philadelphia) carried two interviews on science and religion. They might claim the discussion was balanced, but not when you consider the time allotted, as listed on the NPR web page:
Apparently, an almost three-to-one time difference is a fair fight on NPR.
In case that's not imbalanced enough, the Dawkins page also helpfully links to another 30-minute NPR interview with Dawkins about his book The God Delusion on the show Talk of the Nation. The interviews are repeats from last year, but NPR doesn't generally tell listeners about that when the show airs.
[Update, 5:39 pm Eastern: The Acton Institute's office in Rome has provided an English translation of Bishop Girotti's interview. In it, the bishop has his own criticism for the media. "[I]t is necessary also to denounce the emphasis given to the media that on a daily basis casts discredit on the Church.]
A supposed list of "new sins" from the Vatican, such as pollution and genetic manipulation, made headlines across the world on Monday. The list actually didn’t come from any official Catholic Church document, but from an interview of a bishop that was published in L'Osservatore Romano, the "semi-official" newspaper in Vatican City, and it exposed the mainstream media’s fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church specifically.
L'Osservatore Romano printed the interview of Gianfranco Girotti, a bishop who is a member of the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, in its March 9 edition. In it, Girotti discussed "new forms of social sin," and gave examples such genetic manipulation and drug trafficking. Girotti, who is the number-two official at the Tribunal, is in the mid-level of the Vatican’s bureaucracy, and wouldn’t make any official decisions on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Despite Girotti’s lack of real authority, the mainstream media hyped up the interview as being authoritative. The Daily Telegraph’s website claimed that Girotti’s list of "new forms of social sin" "replaces the list originally drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century, which included envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride." Reuters’ article reported that "the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of "new" sins such as causing environmental blight." CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, on Monday’s "The Situation Room," even went so far to say that "some Christian teachings say love thy neighbor and don't lie, cheat, or steal? But might would one more virtue be added -- go green? Find out why the pope says polluting the planet is a sin." And Pope Benedict XVI wasn’t even the one who was interviewed by L'Osservatore Romano!
Of course, 44 Southern Baptists who buy into the green agenda received a respectful print story in the March 10 Times, widely quoting the church leaders saying things like: "when we destroy God's creation, it's similar to ripping pages from the Bible."
Judas Iscariot was really, really torn about betraying Jesus and was just misunderstood, anyway. And Pontius Pilate? Well, he was just an honest, but beleaguered public servant who was just trying to please his wife. Both men were not really bad guys.... or at least that is how the BBC will present these characters in their newest re-imagining of the final days of Jesus Christ to air this Easter -- an effort that comes on the heels of last year's version of the Nativity that portrayed Mary and Joseph as illegal immigrants.
The producers, of course, are denying that they intend to re-write the character's history, but they do admit that they are trying to portray Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate in a "more sympathetic light" causing Christians to cringe over the PC treatment.
The Media, as Sisyphus, Unwinding its Terror TaleThere is a push by the Jurassic Press -- in two directions at once -- to frame just-so their presentation of the murder and murderers engaged in the attempted global implementation of political Islam.
One such shove was again demonstrated by the New York Times this past February 13th. The Media attempt to present these bits of human flotsam -- and their family members and friends -- in the most sympathetic of possible lights. The Times portrayal of the mourning father and grandfather of recently rubbed out Hezbollah serial assassin Imad Mugniyah -- responsible for amongst many other atrocities the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut (American death count 241) is nothing more than another attempt to humanize these inhuman creatures.
The other Press effort underway is the minimization of the evil of these acts and actors. There is even a feel to some of these reports that those delivering them almost do not wish to have to do so, but are forced to by circumstances and forces (the Internet, anyone?) beyond their control.
Key facts that would exhibit the depths of barbarism mined by these men (and women and, sadly, their bloodletting-by-proxy children) are left out.
"Good Morning America" correspondent Chris Connelly talked with horror novelist, turned religious fiction writer, Anne Rice on Thursday about how friends reacted to her becoming a "Jesus freak." Though the interview was a friendly one, Connelly did ask, in a jovial tone, what it was like when friends said, "'Oh, my gosh. She's out of her mind. Oh, no. Look, she's become a 'Jesus freak.'"
Now, he did attempt to distance himself from the phrase "Jesus freak" by using air quotes, but would any reporter employ a similar term when dealing with a member of another faith? Continuing the over-the-top "conversation" that Connelly assumed people had with her, he imagined, "'She's gone over to the bright side. Where is our empress of vampiric alienation?'"
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Steve Kroft interviewed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, along with a small group of Ohio Democratic voters who, as Kroft explained: "told us that both race and gender would be hidden factors in southern Ohio, that many blue collar workers here won't vote for a woman, and others would never vote for a black." Kroft went on to focus on Obama: "And Senator Obama has another problem: a malicious campaign against him that surfaced in a number of our interviews."
This "malicious campaign" as Kroft sees it is the suggestion by some that Obama is a Muslim. Kroft was shocked to find this belief from one of the voters he talked to, Kenny Schoenholtz, who said:
I'm leaning towards Obama. There's a couple issues with him I'm not too clear on...Well, I'm hearing he doesn't even know the national anthem. He wouldn't use the Holy Bible. He's got his own beliefs, with the Muslim beliefs. And couple of issues that bothers me at heart.
Kroft was concerned that this one misinformed voter, who said he would probably vote for Obama anyway, was reflective of broader smear against the Illinois Senator:
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell has proven that skin color is deeper than hate in her Sunday column as she scolded Barack Obama for distancing himself from the endorsement of the racist Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan. Mitchell scoffed at Barack's denouncement of Farrakhan as merely a "game" to placate racist white people and tried to pump up the legitimacy of Farrakhan at the same time. Shockingly Mitchell excused every hateful thing ever said by Farrakhan and said that Barack should have "found a way" to accept Farrakhan's endorsement "without denigrating Farrakhan's legacy."
Mitchell scolded Barack Obama because he tried to make sure that voters don't think that he, Barack, supports the sort of racism evinced in the past by Louis Farrakhan. Saying that, "most black people understand the game," Mitchell seems to feel that the only reason Obama eschewed Farrakhan’s praise is because all those racist whites would pillory Barack for accepting such an endorsement and so, she feels, he had to trash Farrakhan. Sadly for Mitchell, Farrakhan is a worthy representative of the black community and she feels that Obama is somehow being an apostate to that community for dumping on Farrakhan.
"Hmm, what's this?" I thought, so I clicked on the link to find a story by ABC's Martin Bashir teasing a February 26 "Nightline" story about N.T. Wright, an Anglican bishop and theologian. [It should be noted that Bashir referred to Wright by his middle name Thomas Wright rather than N.T. Wright, which is how you can search for his written works and Web site.]
Unfortunately in what was otherwise an informative and interesting article, I came across some passages that may illustrate how inaccurate Bashir's understanding of historic Christian doctrine is (emphasis mine):
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has issued a non-apology apology to blogger Charles Johnson for an article in which a reporter inaccurately and unfairly attributed remarks in a blog comment thread to Johnson himself. Writing at Little Green Footballs, Johnson quotes an e-mail from a Post-Dispatch editor. The editor was informing Johnson of a correction to run in the paper, but closed with a non-apology apology (emphasis Johnson's):
That is also the reason that he did not feel compelled to get a response from you for this particular story. At issue here were the comments in question, not your blog posting. No one in the article was criticizing or questioning you or your blog or holding you responsible for those comments.
When it comes to Islam, the approach of too many media outlets seems to be to avoid questioning authority. Whether this attitude stems from fear (as in the case of Lawrence O'Donnell), ignorance, or plain old-fashioned political correctness doesn't really matter because the end result is the same: when extremist Islamic groups like the Council on Islamic Relations say "jump," far too many news organizations say "how high."
It's not asking for much, really. When, for instance, other religious groups (be they Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, etc.) make complaints, the usual procedure is to talk to the person or group being accused and allow them to tell there side of the story. It's basic journalism. It appears, however, that St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Tim Townsend doesn't believe that, at least when the complaint involves CAIR making allegations against the conservative blog Little Green Footballs. Let's take a look:
‘View’ co-host Joy Behar followed up her anti-Catholic "saints are crazy" line, noting she "got in trouble with the Catholic Church." Though she emphasized it was "not all but some," she still called them "nuts" and "psychotic," and added that "not all of them deserved to be saints." Behar also added her opinions how crazy people in medieval Europe would be able to escape punishment by saying they were saints.
"I mean, let’s say that you were a person in those days, right? And you were hearing voices, and maybe you were mentally ill, but you were not stupid. As they say ‘I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.’ So you said to yourself, ‘let’s see, if people think I’m crazy they’re going to put me in a dungeon. If I pretend to be a saint, they’ll name a church after me.’"