This week's column (way below) examines the continuing, increasingly dangerous failures of the media to cover Barack Hussein Obama as a subject worthy of analysis and curiosity beyond the scope of White House handouts and Obama-memoir "Dreams." Taboo is the topic of the radical Left -- Marxist -- milieu in which Obama was steeped and mentored, and which, as the authors of the book depicted above make clear, influences Obama administration policy to this day.
But this same republic-threatening radicalism is an item that triggers self (media)-induced censorship -- as it always has. During the presidential campaign, for example, it was only the accidental celebrity of Joe the Plumber in mid-October, 2008 that made Obama's brand of socialism into any kind of a headline; although, if you recall, the media then proceeded to turn their investigative energies not into whether Obama was indeed a socialist but into whether Joe was indeed a (licensed) plumber. Even the appearance online of evidence of Obama's participation in a socialist party, the New Party, failed to match media standards of what was fit -- i.e., safe for their candidate -- to investigate, let alone print.
Recently, thinking back on this period, I went back to a stash of old email correspondence with producers at CNN, where over several years I had appeared as a commentator on the Lou Dobbs shows, becoming an official "contributor" specifically keyed in to the presidential campaign cycle in July 2007. I discovered something I had never realized before: that the regularity of my gig, usually weekly or sometimes more often, particularly as the 2008 campaign barrelled to the finish, came to an abrupt end after October 17, the day I emailed one of the senior producers with links to a pair of online blog posts headlined: "Web Archive Confirms Barack Obama Was Member of Socialist `New Party' in 1996;" and "Second Source Confirms Obama Socialist Party Membership Plus How They Infiltrated Democratic Party."
"I've included the links to the documents below, in case you would like to check the story out," I wrote.
I think it's safe to say crack CNN investigative units failed to materialize. But quite suddenly, while I appeared a second time that same week to tape a previously scheduled "Lou Dobbs" round table, that was it for my regular gig.
Coincidence? I honestly don't know. I have no more than the dateline of events as evidence one way or the other. I was indeed invited on (more than one time after I specifically asked what was up) for a few more sporadic appearances (mainly holidays) but that turned out to be it -- almost a year before Dobbs himself left the cable network.
I did claw my way back for one more pre-Election appearance which just might have sealed my CNN fate as a non-person -- but it was well worth it. After opening with a fairly anodyne statement to the effect that voters had reason to wonder whether Obama as president would take the country "in a socialist direction," one of my roundtable conferes, Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, accused me of "red-baiting" -- a slur that is supposed to indicate a slanderous lack of evidence and thereby shut down discussion -- which I had a wonderful time rebutting.
So much for memory lane. The Manchurian President tells us this debate is about our future.
The syndicated column:
The first response to publicist Maria Sliwa's e-mail queries to news organizations about whether they would like to receive a review copy of "The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists" came back from a reporter at the Christian Science Monitor.
The answer was "no." But it wasn't just "no." The reporter called the book by journalist-author-WABC radio host Aaron Klein and researcher Brenda J. Elliott -- at the time embargoed and thus unread -- a name for toilet paper I'd rather not print. Reflexively, Sliwa hit the delete button (thus losing the reporter's name for posterity). But when other e-mails started coming back with similarly visceral (and even similarly scatological) responses, she started saving them, realizing the reactions themselves were a story.
And so they are. Again, these e-mails, some of which appear below, are responding to the prospect of a new book by a journalist known for groundbreaking work as the Jerusalem-based correspondent for the popular conservative news site Worldnetdaily.com. Klein was also the journalist who first put the Bill Ayers-Barack Obama story together in February 2008 -- 5,000 miles from the United States.
"Ridiculous crap," wrote John Oswald, news editor of the New York Daily News.
"Never, ever contact me again," wrote Time Magazine senior writer Jeffrey Kluger.
"Absolute crap," wrote Evelyn Leopold, former U.N. bureau chief for Reuters.
"Seriously, get a life," wrote David Knowles, AOL's political writer.
"This is sensational rubbish that is of no interest to any legitimate publication," wrote Newsweek deputy editor Rana Foroohar.
Such attitudes help explain why Newsweek is on the block, and why mainstream media (MSM) in general are hurting. But the mindset itself remains mysterious. These ladies and gents of the Fourth Estate didn't just want to ignore the Klein-Elliott book about Barack Obama's radical ties, they wanted to denigrate it, and some quite angrily, which is an out-of-sync reaction to a book that last week debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at No. 10. Somehow, the book was personally or even existentially offensive to these MSMers' most cherished convictions. Whether such convictions balance on a halo affixed to Barack Obama (threatened by the book's revelations), or rest on their own sorry credentials as news professionals (ditto), or something else, I don't know. But this rejectionist reflex, which characterized the abysmal 2008 Obama campaign coverage, is why we now have a president who poses a danger to the future of the republic.
Unfortunately, conservative media, too, are relatively AWOL on this book. Even Fox News, which has indeed hosted Klein, hasn't built on the book's newsiest chunks, the ones that make it stunningly clear that Obama's radical-filled past was, as they say, merely prologue. From Obama's participation in the socialist New Party in the mid-1990s, to his connections to communist-terrorist Bill Ayers, it's all relevant today. How? For example, some of the same anti-American, anti-capitalist revolutionaries from those bad old days now help craft republic-changing legislation.
Take Obama's 2009 stimulus package that launched the outraged Tea Party Movement. As the authors report, a radical group with a Marx-inspired agenda called the Apollo Alliance strongly influenced the legislation -- as the group repeatedly brags at its website (apolloalliance.org), charting similarities between the stimulus bill and Apollo's recommendations, and citing Senate House Majority Leader Harry Reid's tribute to Apollo as an "important factor." Among Apollo's Leftist founders is Joel Rogers, who co-founded the socialist New Party. Jeff Jones, who co-founded the Weather Underground with Bill Ayers and Mark Rudd, is the director of Apollo's New York office. The authors further explain why it is that, as a project of the secretive Tides Center - on whose board sits Wade Rathke, founder of ACORN and former member of Weather Underground's parent group, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) -- the Apollo Alliance's financial sources are effectively impossible to trace.
All of this isn't "guilt by association." It's association, a key to understanding how the radicalism of Obama's past today shapes the policy dictating our future. And it cries out for further journalistic digging. Consumers of New Media - blogs, talk radio -- already know some of the story, while The Manchurian President's brisk sales guarantee a wide audience. But the MSM? Clueless. Which wouldn't much matter if it still weren't the case that only the MSM cover the president. Or do they cover-up the president?