Media Blackout on Rev. Wright Started in 2007

Thursday, 22 Jul 2010 12:20 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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The disclosure by The Daily Caller that liberal journalists plotted to suppress stories about Barack Obama’s 20-year relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. came as no surprise to me.

In January 2008, three months before the story of Wright’s connection to Obama finally broke in the mainstream media, I began writing stories as chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com about Obama’s close association with his America-hating, white-hating, Israel-hating minister. The media, which had known generally about Wright since Obama announced his candidacy in February 2007, ignored them.

If the media had picked them up then, Obama likely would not be president today. According to pollsters, largely as a result of the stories the media finally ran about Wright, Obama’s double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton in national polls vanished. At the same time, John McCain shot up in the polls, and Hillary began winning the primaries. But by then, Obama was ahead, and it was too late for her to overcome his previous lead.

Indeed, David Remnick’s “The Ridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama” quotes an unidentified Clinton aide as saying, “If Jeremiah Wright had dropped in January [2008], it [Obama’s candidacy] would have been over.”

Headlined “Barack Obama’s Racist Church,” the first Newsmax story ran on Jan. 7, 2008. Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ promoted a so-called Black Value System, the story reported. The Black Value System asserts that America structures “an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons” and takes other steps to “snare” blacks rather than “killing them off directly” or “placing them in concentration camps,” the story said.

In that story, I cited two exceptions to the media blackout about Obama’s church: Tucker Carlson of MSNBC, now editor of The Daily Caller, had described Trinity as having a “racially exclusive theology” that “contradicts the basic tenets of Christianity.” Sean Hannity of Fox News had confronted Wright on his show and asked how a Black Value System would be any more acceptable than a white value system.

On Jan. 14, 2008, I broke the story revealing that Wright, whom Obama described as a friend, mentor, and sounding board, had given the church’s lifetime achievement award in December 2007 to Louis Farrakhan. That Newsmax.com story, “Obama Minister Honored Farrakhan,” quoted Wright’s glowing praise of Farrakhan in the church magazine, Trumpet.

The next day, Richard Cohen wrote a Washington Post column on the award.

“Maybe for Wright and some others, Farrakhan ‘epitomized greatness,’ ” Cohen wrote. “For most Americans, though, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism.”

I wrote more stories in the ensuing weeks, including one pointing out that, after the story about the award broke, Obama dissembled about the reason for the award. Obama said the award was for Farrakhan’s work with ex-offenders; in fact, the award presentation said nothing about ex-offenders.

The mainstream media ignored Obama’s prevarication.

On March 6, I wrote “Obama Minister Exudes Hatred.” That story quoted the full text of a sermon Wright gave at Howard University on Feb. 15, 2006.

In that sermon, Wright blamed America for starting the AIDS virus to kill off blacks, training professional killers, importing drugs, and creating a racist society that would never elect a black man as president.

Based on that sermon and Wright’s other comments, I sent a proposed Op-Ed to the Washington Post’s editorial side. I sent a similar piece to the paper’s "Outlook" section. Both rejected the piece.

On March 12, Fox News ran a portion of a Wright sermon. ABC ran more excerpts the next day. On March 15, my Op-Ed, “Obama and the Minister,” appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Based on reporting for Newsmax, it included excerpts from the Howard University sermon.

Referring to that piece, the March 15 New York Times said, “On Friday, Senator John McCain’s campaign forwarded to reporters an article in The Wall Street Journal in which Mr. Wright was quoted as saying, ‘Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run,’ and accusing the United States of importing drugs, exporting guns and training murderers.”

My most liberal friends and family members told me that they would walk out instantly if they heard such hate speech in a church or temple. Obama listened for 20 years and exposed his children to it. In light of Wright’s perspective, Michelle Obama’s comment that she feels proud of America for the first time made perfect sense.

Beginning with the first story on Jan. 7, I sent the Newsmax stories to key reporters, editors, and television producers at major news organizations.

Addressing Obama’s belated public criticism of Wright’s comments, Richard Cohen wrote in his March 16 Washington Post column, “How is it possible that a campaign apparatus that sniffed out Geraldine Ferraro’s offensive statement to a local California newspaper (the Daily Breeze, 12th paragraph) did not know that Wright’s statements condemning America were all over the internet and had been cited March 6 by the (reputable) anti-Obama columnist Ronald Kessler?”

As a former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reporter myself, I have many contacts in the media. When I first began doing the stories, a reporter for one of the cable networks told me she could never propose such a story.

“The media love Obama,” she said. “If you want to do a critical story about him, you are considered by the network to be biased.”

After the mainstream media picked up the stories, liberal journalists brainstormed about how they could suppress the stories, according to postings revealed by The Daily Caller. The fact that these journalists generally wrote opinion columns did not give them a right to try to subvert the free press and censor the news.

Now that Obama is implementing his ultra-liberal policies, voters are asking why they thought he would govern as a centrist and would bring the country together. The answer is that, for more than a year, the media shirked its duty under the First Amendment and suppressed the truth about him.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.


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