Somebody better break it to the New York Times: they might still be the paper of record in their own minds, but to the rest of the world they're just one more dead-tree joint struggling for attention.
The Old Grey Lady's unjustified conceit was on display during this afternoon's Hardball, when one of its columnists was aghast that Chris Matthews had had the audacity not to have read her oeuvre.
Deborah Solomon, who has a weekly column in the NYT Sunday magazine, had interviewed the Rev. John Hagee, a minister who has endorsed McCain and has made a number of controversial statements. I'd mention in passing that while Hagee's critics have accused him of anti-Semitism, he has in fact received numerous awards from Jewish groups for his steadfast support of Israel.
On Anderson Cooper’s CNN blog, Roland Martin spins out of control in an effort to help sweep up the mess left from pastorgate. He claims that Rev. Wright was only quoting Edward Peck, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and deputy director of President Reagan’s terrorism task force. He is particularly claiming that the controversial sermon that includes the quote, “chickens have come home to roost” was a quote from Peck. He goes on to provide what I guess is supposed to be the quote in question. However, if you watch the start of this video, Wright reveals exactly who the quote comes from....Malcom X!
Freshly squeezed into his Political Punch blog this morning, ABC's Jake Tapper (pictured in NB file photo at right) calls the Clinton camp for denying that they are milking the Obama/Wright controversy when, in fact, they are:
Seriously, how can the Clinton campaign with a straight face claim it in no way is pushing the Rev. Wright story?
Former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who appeared with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, Tuesday in Philly writes in the Huffington Post of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, that "Claims of superior intuitive judgment by his campaign and by him are self-evidently disingenuous, especially in light of disclosures about his long associations with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko."
Barack Obama’s interview with Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night's "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN was quite gentle. While Cooper did press Obama to address some of the criticisms that have erupted over his pastor Jeremiah Wright, he did not press him about Wright’s criticism of white people, or his claims of the government giving blacks AIDS, only one (truncated) 9/11 passage. Cooper used ten-foot-pole language about those people who would be alarmed by Wright’s America-bashing remarks: "Patriotism is going to be used by whoever it is you are facing." Used? Have you ever noticed how the media never asks if America is being "used" by leaders who spit on America?
Obama was spinning furiously.
I never heard anything nasty about America.
COOPER: In the past, you said you didn't think that your church was particularly controversial. Yesterday, in the speech, you said that -- you admitted that you did hear in the church remarks that could be considered controversial. Do you know specifically? Do you remember what you heard?
“The McCain campaign suspends a staffer for circulating an inflammatory video about Barack Obama,” CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric intoned as “Campaign Controversy” was plastered on screen over a YouTube video which simply intersperses clips of Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. Managing to twist Obama into a victim, a task made easier by the feckless McCain campaign, Couric set up a Thursday story: “A low-level aide to John McCain was suspended today for circulating an incendiary video about Barack Obama that's been viewed by tens of thousands of people on the Internet.”
Reporter Dean Reynolds cited as “troubling” how “a low-level campaign aide to John McCain has been circulating it.” Resurrecting the Bill Cunningham incident, Reynolds described the video as “one of several episodes in which aides, supporters, or surrogates have crossed the line and forced McCain to apologize or take action.”
In contrast, ABC's Jake Tapper took the Hillary Clinton campaign to task for using Wright's “inflammatory comments” to suggest Obama can't win in November, asking: “Is that dirty politics?” Tapper also uniquely raised (amongst the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts) how Obama characterized his grandmother as “a typical white person.”
A day after Barack Obama's speech in reaction to the bigoted and hateful rants of his long-time pastor, the network evening newscasts moved on -- with only ABC briefly mentioning the topic -- while NBC Nightly News, which has run just one clip of Jeremiah Wright and on Friday had instead featured a whole story about Obama's childhood friends cheering him on, centered a Wednesday night story around “a mistake” by John McCain. Anchor Brian Williams provided an ominous plug: “Did John McCain slip, or was his mistake intentional? His choice of words making news tonight.”
Kelly O'Donnell soon proposed: “Defense and national security are central to McCain's campaign. So a mistake he repeated this week has stood out. At least three times McCain incorrectly asserted that Iran is aiding al Qaeda.” After video of Senator Joe Lieberman whispering in McCain's ear, McCain corrected himself as O'Donnell explained: “The mistake, al Qaeda is a Sunni group while Iran is a Shia nation.” O'Donnell highlighted how “Senator Obama seized on the error,” concluding with the suggestion the one comment undermined McCain's image: “Leaving McCain to defend his expertise during a trip in which he intended to showcase it.”
Obama’s closest religious advisers -- Fr. (Michael) Pfleger, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, and Illinois State Sen. James Meeks, who moonlights as the pastor of Chicago's Salem Baptist Church – may have quotes from Scripture always handy, but are theologically closer to Karl Marx and black nationalism, than to Christianity.
..... According to State Sen./Rev. James Meeks’ humble, personal church Web page, “Meeks’ practical and charismatic style of instruction motivates the hearer to take action and has resulted in accomplishments of miraculous proportions.” When the good Senator/Reverend is not accomplishing miracles and other feats “never before documented in history,” he serves as the executive vice president of Jesse Jackson Sr.’s National Rainbow-Push Coalition.
The Rev. Meeks appears to have a problem similar to that of the now-infamous Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, as this excerpt from an August 2006 story at CBS Chicago shows (bolds are mine):
Since the Rev. Jeremiah Wright revelations first shook the Obama campaign, one of America's so-called foremost civil rights leaders has been conspicuously silent about the subject.
With this in mind, Fox News producer Griff Jenkins went to the Take Back America convention in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to get Jesse Jackson's opinions about the controversy that virtually everyone in America is talking about.
Time editor Rick Stengel made his regular Thursday Morning Joe appearance today, revealing the magazine's cover to be published tomorrow. But while we learned that the Dalai Lama's photo will appear there, the bigger story is the "cover" Time is trying to provide for Barack Obama's Rev. Wright problem.
Here's the gist of Time's defense of Obama, a distillation of Stengel's statements and Time articles by Amy Sullivan and Joe Klein:
An important aspect of the problem is that white Americans are incredibly ignorant about black churches in America.
In fact, Rev. Wright's church isn't that radical as black churches go.
It was understandable for Obama to have joined Wright's church. At the time he was a 27-year old bi-racial man trying to figure out his identity as the son of an atheist father and skeptic mother and needed a church "he could learn from."
It's understandable that Obama didn't leave the church: it's like reading a book--you don't necessarily agree with the author.
Obama's speech was a "triumph," and Americans will be thinking "small" if they make the Wright thing a big issue in the campaign.
ABC’s Brian Ross is reporting that Barack Obama’s speech trying to get around the controversy over his pastor Jeremiah Wright doesn’t match his previous professions of ignorance about the vehemence of Wright’s sermons on the oppression wrought by America and "rich white people." (It also doesn’t match his account of Wright in his book Dreams of My Father.) Ross declared:
Buried in his eloquent, highly praised speech on America's racial divide, Sen. Barack Obama contradicted more than a year of denials and spin from him and his staff about his knowledge of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermons....
Until yesterday, Obama said the only thing controversial he knew about Rev. Wright was his stand on issues relating to Africa, abortion and gay marriage.
"I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial," Obama said at a community meeting in Nelsonville, Ohio, earlier this month.
"He has said some things that are considered controversial because he's considered that part of his social gospel; so he was one of the leaders in calling for divestment from South Africa and some other issues like that," Obama said on March 2.
Reciting three quotes highlighted Tuesday night on NewsBusters (and the MRC's Wednesday CyberAlert), plus one from CNN's Campbell Brown which we missed, FNC's Brit Hume led his “Grapevine” segment Wednesday night by illustrating how “Barack Obama's speech on race yesterday played to rave reviews in much of the national media.” Hume recounted:
On NBC, the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart said the address was, quote, "a very important gift the Senator has given the country." NBC's own Chris Matthews said it was, quote, "worthy of Abraham Lincoln" and quote "the best speech ever given on race in this country." ABC's George Stephanopoulos said Obama's refusal to renounce his highly controversial pastor was, quote, "in many ways an act of honor." And on CNN, Campbell Brown called the speech "striking" and "daring," asserting that Obama had, quote, "walked the listener through a remarkable exploration of race from both sides of the color divide, from both sides of himself."
Hey MSM! Since all has been forgiven by most of you for Obama’s warm friendship with the radical racist and anti-American conspiracy nut Jeremiah Wright, and many of you are crowning him, once again, as the next JFK or Lincoln for “bringing the discussion of race to a higher plane…would it be utterly presumptuous of me to suggest that this should lead to opening a few more cans of worms? I mean, since most of you, with few exceptions, have decided to ignore the lies and contradictions revealed through Obama’s speech and instead trip over yourselves to focus on how “courageous” and “eloquent” his speech was…I’ll concede…let us move on, because there is plenty you have ignored that we can move on to. Jeremiah Wright is not the only radical company that Obama keeps.
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."
There's a new entry next to Mika Brzezinski's name in the annals of MSM elitism. The Morning Joe panelist today lamented blue-collar whites who "can't hear" the message Barack Obama propounded. Poor benighted souls. Joe Scarborough called Mika on it.
Brzezinski's comment came in response to Scarborough's exposition of why he didn't think Obama's speech would work with many blue-collar whites.
Applauding Barack Obama's March 18 speech, Time's Joe Klein (file photo at right) argued that most people will understand why the Illinois senator could not throw his pastor under the bus, even as Klein applauded the fact that Obama made his grandmother a speedbump on the bus ride to the Denver convention (emphasis mine):
The part about his grandmother is the real payoff, though: I'd say that most white people, over a certain age, have had grandmothers like that. (I had two such.) And I suspect most fair-minded white people who hear that section will understand: Obama can't toss aside the pastor--who, after all,was probably a powerful father figure for a man whose own father disappeared when he was two years old--any more than I could, or would want to, toss aside embarrassing old Grandma Rae, who almost always produced some dreadful jaw-dropper at Thanksgiving.
Now, perhaps Wright was a father figure in some ways to Obama. But doesn't that spiritual father-son relationship over decades require maturation with which the "son figure," Obama, would avail himself the opportunity to respectfully but sternly rebuke Wright and ultimately to leave the congregation if and when such concerns went resolved?
Despite the glowing praise from supposedly impartial press representatives across the fruited plain, March 18, 2008 could go down in history as the day Barack Obama destroyed his chances of becoming the first black President of the United States.
Americans shouldn't be fooled by all the predictable fawning from the usual suspects in the mainstream media, for this was not a shining moment for the well-spoken gentleman that has generated so much enthusiasm around the country.
Rather than using his Rev. Jeremiah Wright mea culpa speech in Philadelphia Tuesday as an opportunity to demonstrably move race relations in this nation toward a brighter future, the junior senator from Illinois employed tired clichés to dredge up a past that most Americans only experienced in their history books and want desperately to move beyond.
If this is change we can believe in, Martin Luther King Jr. must be rolling over in his grave.
Consider for example the following words uttered by Obama early in his speech that won't likely be reported by press members unashamedly on his bandwagon:
The Washington Post's coverage of Barack Obama's speech on race -- and his stark refusal to disassociate himself from his bilious preacher, Jeremiah Wright -- was blatantly one-sided on Wednesday. Nowhere in the news articles addressing the speech was a conservative or a Republican allowed to speak -- unless it was a "lifelong Republican" who loves Obama and caucused for him. The Post's laborious spinning could be seen in the front page text boxes leading into other stories.
For Obama, there was "How Did It Play? Obama's speech draws praise, including a comparison to John F. Kennedy's 1960 address on Catholicism. A6."
For McCain, it was "McCain Mixes Up Iraq's Extremists: On a trip he hoped would spotlight his foreign policy expertise, John McCain confuses Sunni and Shiite groups. A7."
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday framed coverage of Barack Obama's speech, in reaction to the furor over the racist, paranoid and America-hating remarks of his long-time pastor, not by focusing on what it says about Obama's true views and judgment but by admiring his success in “confronting” the issue of “race in America” in an “extraordinary” speech. Indeed, both ABC and CBS displayed “Race in America” on screen as the theme to their coverage, thus advancing Obama's quest to paint himself as a candidate dedicated to addressing a serious subject, not explain his ties to racially-tinged hate speech. NBC went simply with “The Speech” as Brian Williams described it as “a speech about race.”
In short, the approach of the networks was as toward a friend in trouble and they wanted to help him put the unpleasantness behind him by focusing on his noble cause. “Barack Obama addresses the controversial comments of his pastor, condemning the words but not the man,” CBS's Katie Couric teased before heralding: “And he calls on all Americans to work for a more perfect union.” On ABC, Charles Gibson announced: “Barack Obama delivers a major speech confronting the race issue head on, and says it's time for America to do the same.” Reporting “Obama challenged Americans to confront the country's racial divide,” Gibson hailed “an extraordinary speech.”
NBC's Lee Cowan admired how “in the City of Brotherly Love, Barack Obama gave the most expansive and most intensely personal speech on race he's ever given,” adding it reflected “honesty that struck his rival Hillary Clinton.” On NBC, Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart asserted “it was a very important speech for the nation. It was very blunt, very honest” and so “a very important gift the Senator has given the country.” [Updated with Nightline]
It’s Damage Control Time for the liberal press. Count New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as one in the media masses who have been outraged, just outraged at the supposed conservative bigotry against Barack Obama. This "most monstrous bigotry" isn’t just about race, but also religion. Stating his middle name and Internet whispers that he’s a Muslim "are the religious equivalent of racial slurs."
Kristof concluded his March 9 column by quoting Martin Luther: "I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian."
One of the criticisms of the media's coverage of Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy - both from his opponents on the right and on the left, has been that he's been given a free pass on a lot of issue.
The latest in particular had been the recently uncovered of Obama's former church minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who had made several incendiary remarks about race and the government.
Eleanor Clift, known for her defense of Bill and Hillary Clinton on the syndicated show, "The McLaughlin Group," came to the defense of Obama in a March 17 appearance at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
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?
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)
The broadcast network evening show blackout, of Reverend Jeremiah Wright's 2001 charge that the U.S. earned the 9/11 attacks, continued Monday night as neither CBS nor NBC touched the Wright issue and ABC ran a full story which included Wright's “U.S. of K-K-K-A” hate speech and how Obama has been close to Wright for 20 years, but concluded with how “many African-Americans do not understand” the controversy since the “kind of fiery language Wright uses is not uncommon in black churches.”
The race-based, white-bashing rants may not be so uncommon, but is anti-American shouting -- about how “we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye” and so “America's chickens are coming home to roost” -- so common?
Anchor Charles Gibson set up the story from Jake Tapper by asserting Obama “is being dogged by his pastor's provocative comments.” After the “U.S. of K-K-K-A” soundbite, Tapper pointed out how “Wright has played an important role in Obama's life for 20 years.” Viewers then saw a clip of Obama from June of 2007 giving “a special shout out to my pastor” who's “a friend. And a great leader.” Following some quotes illustrating Obama's awareness a year ago of how Wright's views could prove embarrassing, Tapper ended with how such language is not unusual in black churches.
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.
The 160-word section has since been deleted from the About Us page, replaced by videotaped testimonials from church members extolling the virtues of the church, including a white official from the parent United Church of Christ who said she feels welcome at predominantly black Trinity.
“These black ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever blacks are gathered,” the original webpage said.
Here is the entire text of the section before it was redacted: