Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Times

On March 6, New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Patrick Healy published this article discussing how Barack Obama had disinvited his pastor from his campaign announcement.  This letter from Jeremiah A. Wright, Obama's pastor is rather remarkable. 

As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack's taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed "sound byte" and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.

I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation's first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.

Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama's "Spiritual Biography." Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of "Hannity and Colmes" is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years.

The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or "spin" because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.

Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party's national "blog." The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.

Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana.  Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!

The larger context here is twofold.  There's a lot of anger among black leaders in this country over Barack Obama because he isn't showing enough deference to their place in the political system.  At the same time, this leadership is struggling to remain relevant in the face of a serious disconnect between younger African-Americans and an older generation.  It's partially a class issue, with upwardly mobile blacks, poorer disempowered blacks, and a new class of wealthy blacks detached from the Civil Rights era leadership.  If these groups are responsive to Obama's message, it means that the older leadership is losing its base.  

Infrastructure-wise, there is very little national support either media or otherwise in place for African-American progressives, and so backbiting and rumors are common.  There are plenty of incentives for people to spread rumors about Obama dissing his pastor; that's exactly the kind of frame that Obama opponents are using against him, that he's young, arrogant, and unwise.

Normally I'd say that there is something to the rumor that Obama rubbed his pastor the wrong way, but this letter is incredibly passionate about the New York Times.  It is not a non-denial denial, it is an aggressive statement that the NYT made up this story.  The sensationalism of the New York Times and political journalism has been so pronounced for so long that the newspaper no longer has the credibility to do reporting like this and get away with it.  If the NYT cared about credibility the editors would ask Jodi Kantor and Patrick Healy to put their audio of the two hour interview with Obama's pastor online so people could see for themselves what he said.

Barring that, I'd say that the New York Times took yet another hit today.

Tags: Barack Obama, New York Times (all tags)



Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Time

Wow, that's going to leave a mark.

The narrative of the NYT trying to create a rift in the black community where none exists is one they should feel very concerned about.

by Steve M 2007-03-22 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Time

I've always wondered if the Whitewater smeared could have been put down if Beverly Basset Schaffer could have bloged. I think we have our answer.

by Alice Marshall 2007-03-22 10:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Time

By the way, it's worth noting that Matt didn't have space to include some of the more powerful parts of this letter.  It's worth clicking the link and reading the whole thing.

by Steve M 2007-03-22 10:46AM | 0 recs
Nice timing by the Obama camp

They need to change the subject now that it is reported that Obama's people were in fact behind the video hit piece on Hillary .. after Obama said it wasn't so.  

The creator of the vid worked for an outfit contracted by the Obama campaign.   That is way to hard to 'plain away.   Obama should issue an apology to Clinton.

by dpANDREWS 2007-03-22 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Nice timing by the Obama camp

What report are you referring to?  Please provide the linkage of this said report.

by Lorraine 2007-03-22 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Nice timing by the Obama camp

What should he apologize for again?  The guy didn't work on his account and wasn't paid by Obama.  Moreover, the idea that he'd have let someone who could be perceived as associated with his campaign put the ad out there is ridiculous.  Finally, I don't think there's anything wrong with the ad.  

So what, exactly, is he supposed to apologize for again?  

by HSTruman 2007-03-22 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Nice timing by the Obama camp

Yeah, it's SO hard to explain that it was done by a rogue individual employed by this contractor, who has now been fired.  Gosh, years from now we'll still be talking about how Obama must have personally done the video editing, the ties to his campaign are so close.  It was very clever of Obama to secretly sponsor an ad with the intent that it could never be tied to his campaign, and then to include the address of his campaign website in the ad.  Positively Rovian.

And of course, since Obama is capable of orchestrating something like this, it's unsurprising that he would call up his pastor and say "Hey, I need to change the subject real quick, will you write a nasty letter for me?"  Because that's just the kind of person he is.

by Steve M 2007-03-22 10:40AM | 0 recs

What report are you referring to?  Please provide the linkage of this said report.

by Lorraine 2007-03-22 10:15AM | 0 recs
by dpANDREWS 2007-03-22 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Huh?

Phil de Vellis, until Wednesday an employee of the company that handles Obama's Web site, boasted in a posting on the Huffington Post that he made the ad, though he claimed neither the Obama campaign nor his former employer, Blue State Digital -- which does software development and hosting for Obama's campaign -- was aware that he had.


I find this interesting.  

by Lorraine 2007-03-22 10:19AM | 0 recs
Remember the 'Church Lady' on SNL

What was her tag line .....

by dpANDREWS 2007-03-22 10:21AM | 0 recs
"Isn't that special"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-de-ve llis-aka-parkridge/i-made-the-vote-diffe ren_b_43989.html

Hi. I'm Phil. I did it. And I'm proud of it.

I made the "Vote Different" ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process. There are thousands of other people who could have made this ad, and I guarantee that more ads like it--by people of all political persuasions--will follow.

This shows that the future of American politics rests in the hands of ordinary citizens.

The campaigns had no idea who made it--not the Obama campaign, not the Clinton campaign, nor any other campaign. I made the ad on a Sunday afternoon in my apartment using my personal equipment (a Mac and some software), uploaded it to YouTube, and sent links around to blogs.

The specific point of the ad was that Obama represents a new kind of politics, and that Senator Clinton's "conversation" is disingenuous. And the underlying point was that the old political machine no longer holds all the power.

Let me be clear: I am a proud Democrat, and I always have been. I support Senator Obama. I hope he wins the primary. (I recognize that this ad is not his style of politics.) I also believe that Senator Clinton is a great public servant, and if she should win the nomination, I would support her and wish her all the best.

I've resigned from my employer, Blue State Digital, an internet company that provides technology to several presidential campaigns, including Richardson's, Vilsack's, and -- full disclosure -- Obama's. The company had no idea that I'd created the ad, and neither did any of our clients. But I've decided to resign anyway so as not to harm them, even by implication.

This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed.

by Lorraine 2007-03-22 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: "Isn't that special"

Yes, you're right.

I was thinking of "how convenient."

by dpANDREWS 2007-03-22 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: "Isn't that special"

Wow... you must live in such a sad little cynical world....  

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-22 11:58AM | 0 recs
Barack's School of Combating

Cynicism 101 should be taught in the confines of this blog.


by Lorraine 2007-03-22 12:33PM | 0 recs
NY Times lost credibility with me long ago

First with Whitewater coverage, then with election 2000 coverage and Kit Seelye's repeated hit pieces on Gore.

This doesn't surprise me at all.

by desmoinesdem 2007-03-22 10:15AM | 0 recs
New York Times

New York Times journalists

Wow, an entity and the people who work for it become an oxymoron.

The New York Times - didn't they used to be a newspaper?

by Michael Bersin 2007-03-22 10:25AM | 0 recs
Re: New York Times

Weren't they considered one of the best in the country at one time?  Not anymore.

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-22 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out

Rosh Hashana?

Lent is February or March, but wtf does Rosh Hashana have to do with this? Was he aiming for Yom Kippur for the atonement, and Purim for the date?

I don't get it.

by BingoL 2007-03-22 10:26AM | 0 recs
Rosh Hashanah means a New Year

I won't even pretend to understand why Pastor Wright used this Jewish Holiday.  Maybe you should ask him.

by Lorraine 2007-03-22 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out

I'm a pretty bad Jew myself, but technically speaking, the time from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is actually one long period of atonement.

by Steve M 2007-03-22 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Time

Obama is UCC? Oooooooo, the NY Times should be careful. We UCC types are tough.

by Alice Marshall 2007-03-22 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Time

You UCCers are almost as bad as we Disciples of Christ.  I have heard Obama's pastor several times at clergy conferences.  He is a fireball and not the kind of guy you want to end up on the wrong side of.  

by cspanjunkie 2007-03-22 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Time

Beware the Unitarian Jihad!

by idea list 2007-03-22 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Time

You didn't know that?  He is pretty proud about it.

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-22 12:00PM | 0 recs
Oh no you didn't!!

Here are the words from the horses mouth
about the ad.

The campaigns had no idea who made it--not the Obama campaign, not the Clinton campaign, nor any other campaign. I made the ad on a Sunday afternoon in my apartment using my personal equipment (a Mac and some software), uploaded it to YouTube, and sent links around to blogs.

by sndeak 2007-03-22 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh no you didn't!!

I used to do film editing professionally... with the advent of Digital, that Ad, while creative wasn't that hard to do... I could do something like it 7 years ago fairly easy on my home PC or MAC with decent software... I am guessing even the Adobe auite could have done it with After Effects and Premiere.  If this guy was doing it at Obama's campaign's bequest, the quality would have been better... it is definately something done on a home computer... probably with Final Cut Pro.

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-22 12:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh no you didn't!!

Not sure how it spilled over into this thread, but to me the most fascinating thing about that entire Hillary84 thing is that it demonstrates that apparently absolutely nobody that has a "real" job in media has any idea whatsoever how easy that media editing has become.

It's like watching the great powers gathered around in amazement at the discovery of fire or something, totally oblivious that everybody else already knew about this.

by Silent sound 2007-03-22 12:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh no you didn't!!

I'd say a lot of them are older and not tech savvy... most younger people have been editing video for the last 5-6 years with at the very least simplistic tools provided in XP and MAC OS.  Tech Savvy older peopel understand it, but most of the media are Pretty Smiles and not much else and therefore just don't get how easy it is.  I mean the Edwards, "I Feel Pretty" video would take a few minutes to do for a lot of teens.  Heck, if HRC gets really nasty and loses, I already have a video idea for the day she drops out... although I don't know if I will do it as it is mean and she will still be a Senator.  That being said... in 2008 when we know the GOP candidate, I won't have any problems with holding back...

In fact, I propose NOW that MyDD have a contest to pick the best anti-GOP candidate video once the GOP nom is decided.  If its Newt or Rudy or McCain, there will eb a wealth of material.

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-22 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh no you didn't!!

Or stealing a GOP idea from 2004, the ROmney Flipper Video.

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-22 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Another point view:

You continue to misread the lack of overwhelming support of blacks for Obama. This has nothing to do with friction between Obama and (civil rights)black leadership. It is more to do with blacks been torn between their genuine liking and support for the Clintons versus their racial affinity towards Obama. I should know because I'm black (and a college post-graduate) but my wife (who's also black) and I are leaning towards Hillary because we've experienced Bill Clinton's administration and believe they are comfortable in ther skin when it comes to socializing with blacks and addressing black issues just as much as any black person would. If Hillary was not runnig we both would be supporting Obama enthusiatically. However, we feel the Clintons have a proven track record with blacks that's spanned over 30 years. We are reciprocating with our loyalty. Note this though: In our social circle the black women are going for Hillary more than the men.

The New York Times is another issue. I think the MSM journalists have become lazy and resort to sensationalism to make up for lack of follow-through on their reporting.

by meliou2 2007-03-22 12:14PM | 0 recs
I guess I'm slow

I don't get this logic.  Bill Clinton's Presidency gave us a Republican Congress.  It took 12 long years to get it back.  Why haven't the Republican got full force after Hillary Clinton?  But instead made it a point to bash Senator Obama.  If I didn't know better I would think at Fox Noise Channel, Senator Obama was only person running for the Democratic Nomination.

Pull the curtain back and see what's going on.  

by Lorraine 2007-03-22 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: I guess I'm slow

Remember, the conservative talk radio echo chamber bashed Clinton and the congress for the assault weapons ban, gays in the military and socialized healthcare in the first 2 years. Liberals and Democrats played 'prevent defense' and got beat 2 years later in the mid-term election because he tried to push through a so-called liberal agenda. Clinton got re-elected 2 years later after his policies started to take hold. I was there. I practically listened to Rush Limbaugh almost every day to get my fix of contact politics.

by meliou2 2007-03-22 04:01PM | 0 recs
Re: I guess I'm slow

"Bill Clinton's Presidency gave us a Republican Congress."


Well, maybe congressional Democrats had something to do with their own fate.  Also, it was then the South made its complete Southern switch.

It wasn't just Bill Clinton.  

by v2aggie2 2007-03-22 08:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Another point view:

That being said, most polls show Obama does have a lot of strong support among Blacks as he is showing he is actually a viable candidate... Most experts attribute this to HRC's shrinking lead.

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-22 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Another point view:

That's true.

by meliou2 2007-03-22 04:01PM | 0 recs
Got a question

  Is Hillary's endorsement of the Iraq war having any impact on her support among blacks? I can't imagine it's helping her.

by Master Jack 2007-03-22 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Got a question

You can't blame Hillary for Bush's deception. As I recall, Bill Clinton had the same authority for the Kosovo war but did not misuse or abuse it.

by meliou2 2007-03-22 03:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Got a question

  Even if one buys Hillary's contention that she was "deceived" (though there were 23 senators who weren't), isn't her continuing support of the war hurting her?

And it's not like she's banging on tables expressing too much outrage over this "deception", either...

by Master Jack 2007-03-22 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Got a question

My view is since we broke it we must fix it. We can't just leave Iraq and the Iraqis precipitously after devastating their country based on false intelligence. It would be immoral if not illegal. Our soldiers however need to be re-deployed while we let the Iraqis get their Civil war out of their system.

by meliou2 2007-03-22 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out at the New York Time

I think it's interesting reading this letter after having read "Dreams from My Father," because Barack describes Wright as a pivotal figure in his journey to faith.  Wright's dismissal of his own part in Obama's development is really interesting.  I was struck in Obama's book by how much work it took him just to get established in Chicago.  It's interesting to read an account from someone else of just what an impressive young man he was back then.

Of course right now I'm just floored by Elizabeth and John Edwards.  We truly have an embarrassment of riches this campaign cycle:  every single one of our candidates is an excellent example of the best America has to offer.

by jjhare 2007-03-22 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Pastor Lashes Out

I'm happy that Dr. Wright has come forth in support of Obama. This issue was causing problems in the Black Blogosphere, and it still hasn't stopped causing problems for Obama.

I'm solidly for Obama and have no problems saying it, but it's been tough to defend Obama lately in the Black Blogosphere.

African-American progressives are quite skeptical of Obama.

by rikyrah 2007-03-22 05:45PM | 0 recs


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