The New York Times reported that Rev. Jeremiah Wright is still praising Barack Obama in the grandest tones. In a Sunday news account, Andy Newman of the Times didn’t seem to blink as Wright sermonized before a Presbyterian crowd in Newark compared Obama to...the mother of Jesus Christ:
"Lord told him, an ordinary black boy, ‘You can be a state senator and you can bring folk to the bargaining table who not only do not talk to one another, these folk don’t like one another.’
"He did what the Lord said," Mr. Wright continued, "an ordinary black boy like Mary was an ordinary little girl."
It could be worse: Wright could have compared the Virgin Mary to Bill Clinton. The Times reporter calmly passed along that Wright was taking instructions from Jesus himself:
At a sermon earlier on Sunday at Elmwood’s main branch in East Orange, N.J., Mr. Wright referred to the controversy that had swirled around him, emphasizing the importance of listening to Jesus’s instructions.
"He told me, ‘You don’t have to give up your Africanity for your Christianity; preach the truth and let the chips fall where they may,’ " Mr. Wright said. "I ain’t preaching for no journalists; I’m preaching for Jesus. I ain’t preaching for no president; I’m preaching for the prince of peace."
Mr. Wright is to preach nightly at the church in East Orange through Wednesday.
Times reporters and columnists (think Frank Rich) fulminate against religious-right figures who are seemingly on a phone line with the Almighty. They wince at Sarah Palin's hopeful messages about America following God's will. But Rev. Wright is apparently a different story entirely. His phone line to Heaven is apparently not worth questioning. The Times account once again used the bizarre journalistic construction that Wright's declarations were not racist or unpatriotic (God Damn America?), but merely criticized as such:
But last year, Mr. Obama began distancing himself from Mr. Wright, whose teachings have been criticized as racially inflammatory and unpatriotic. Mr. Wright has said that the 9/11 attacks were a case of “America’s chickens coming home to roost,” and he has suggested that the government inflicted AIDS on black people.
Last year? Did Newman entirely miss Obama in March declaring "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community," or his own grandmother?
Yes, as the Times reported, Obama began dialing down his public praise of and appearances with Wright in 2007, disinviting him from speaking at his announcement speech in Springfield. But the way the Times put it, an uninformed reader might think the two have been entirely separated for a year.
Newman then interviewed the people in the pews, and found only fans of Wright:
Members of the congregation, many of whom had heard Mr. Wright in the past, emerged into the sunshine on Sunday, impressed by his message.
"I can’t find the words to say how good he was to me," Anthony Ravenel, 22, who plays the bass with the choir, said after the sermon at the East Orange church. "It’s just an honor to hear him preach."
Mr. Ravenel said the outcry over Mr. Wright’s words did not bother him: "If you don’t give me a reason not to like you, I’m not going to not like you just because other people don’t like you."
Anita Sims-Rainford, an elder at the church in Newark, said that Mr. Wright’s praise for Mr. Obama "shows that we can all be in support of a common cause but not agree on the best way to accomplish the goals."
Joy Harris, 44, said that she did not think that the preacher and the presidential candidate were as far apart as they seemed.
"He’s been with Obama all these years," she said, "and I still believe deep down that they’re still together."
Our MRC Special Report on the media and Wright is here.