Media figures are dismissing video from a 2007 Obama speech despite Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson hyping the video as damning evidence of racially-charged rhetoric. Even some conservatives agree that the video has little significance in the presidential race.
Media Figures: Attack Over 2007 Obama Video "Fell Flat"
Politico's Byers: The Drudge Hype "Fell Flat." In a blog post headlined "The Drudge hype falls flat," Politico media reporter Dylan Byers stated that "Drudge's promise of controversy and Hannity's promise of a 'bombshell' " fell flat. From the post:
One night before the first presidential debate, conservatives Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson hyped footage of a five-year-old speech by then-Sen. Barack Obama, widely covered at the time, in which the presidential candidate suggested the George W. Bush administration was discriminating against the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
But when footage finally aired on Hannity's Fox News program and on Carlson's Daily Caller website at 9 p.m., following hours of aniticipation [sic] spurred by Drudge's promise of controversy and Hannity's promise of a "bombshell", it fell flat. [Politico, 10/3/12]
CBS News: Video Hyped As Bombshell Turned Out To Be Something The Public Had Already Seen. CBSnews.com reported that the video hyped by right-wing media was something that was already public knowledge. From the article:
It was billed as a bombshell on the eve of the first presidential debate: A video showing then-Sen. Barack Obama making controversial comments about class and race. It wasn't until Fox News and the Daily Caller unveiled the video that it became clear that it was an event that had already seen by the public: Mr. Obama's speech to Hampton University in 2007.
What it succeeded in doing was reminding people about Mr. Obama's warm welcome at the event to his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright - the pastor whose incendiary remarks created such a controversy that Mr. Obama was forced to deliver his famous "race speech" in 2008 in response. [CBSNews.com, 10/2/12]
NY Times: Conservatives "Trumpeted A Five-Year-Old Video ... Which Was Reported On At The Time." A post on The New York Times' Caucus political blog reported that the hyped video merely revived Obama's relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright "on the eve of Mr. Obama's first debate with Mitt Romney." The post also noted that "the controversy over Mr. Obama's relationship with Mr. Wright was one of the most covered of the 2008 primary." [The New York Times, The Caucus, 10/2/12
LA Times' Rainey: Obama Video Reveals Everything ... That We Already Knew." Los Angeles Times political blogger James Rainey wrote an op-ed headlined "Obama video reveals everything ... that we already knew." In the op-ed Rainey pointed out that "we already knew that Obama talked about those things" shown in the video hyped by Matt Drudge, Fox News, and the Daily Caller. [Los Angeles Times, 10/3/12]
Wash. Post: Hyped Video "Fell Flat." A post on The Washington Post's Election 2012 Blog stated: "Tuesday night's much-hyped release of a 2007 speech by then-Sen. Barack Obama fell flat." The post also touched on the Daily Caller's highlighting of Obama's comments related to Hurricane Katrina. From the post:
The Daily Caller Web site highlighted Obama's comment that the federal government was not doing enough in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. "Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans, they don't care about as much!" he said. That comment was not in Obama's prepared remarks. But it also doesn't appear to be having much impact. [The Washington Post, Election 2012 Blog, 10/3/12]
Many Conservatives Questioned the Importance Of The Video
Congressman Allen West: "What's The 'So What' Of This Video?" Florida GOP Congressman Allen West told Fox's Greta Van Susteren he didn't think the video is "going to really go anywhere":
REP. ALLEN WEST: What's the 'so what' of this video? I don't think it's going to really go anywhere, because what's most concerning to me is the fact that right now we don't have voting ballots going out to our service members. [Fox News, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, 10/2/12]
Newt Gingrich: "I Don't Think This Particular Speech Is Definitive." Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich agreed with Fox On The Record host Greta Van Susteren that Obama's record would have a "far greater impact" than his 2007 comments:
VAN SUSTEREN: I would expect that people are making decisions: Are you better off than you were three years ago? Is the world safer? Do you think we're going in the right direction? You know, those types of questions. I think his record has a far greater impact than what he said in 2007. But I could be wrong.
GINGRICH: Well sure. No, no. I agree with you. I don't think this particular speech is definitive, but it's a reminder. [Fox News, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, 10/2/12]
CNN's Erick Erickson: "I Don't Think That This Is Going To Persuade Anyone." Right-wing blogger and talk radio host Erick Erickson told CNN's John Berman that Republicans need to focus on the economy rather than what was contained in the video:
ERICKSON: I don't think that this is going to persuade anyone. I think Republicans probably do need to focus more on the unemployment and the economy. [CNN, Early Start, 10/3/12, via Media Matters]
National Review's Jim Geraghty: Tape Of Obama Is "Not Quite A Yawn, But No Game-Changer." National Review's Jim Geraghty wrote in NR's Morning Jolt that the video was "no game-changer." [National Review, 10/3/12]
Daily Beast's David Frum: "Is It Really So Outrageous That A Black Presidential Candidate Would Want To Talk About The Displacement Of Black Americans?" In a post on his Daily Beast blog, former Bush Administration speechwriter David Frum acknowledged that Obama's observation in the in the video was correct regarding his observations related to Hurricane Katrina and its effect on the black communities of the gulf coast, and asked:
Is it really so outrageous that a black presidential candidate would want to talk about the displacement of black Americans in this way? Maybe a better question is: why isn't the condition of black America an important topic for all presidential candidates of all backgrounds and all races? [The Daily Beast, 10/2/12]
Fox's Kilmeade On Charge Of Racially-Charged Rhetoric: "All Of That Could Be True" But He Hasn't "Governed In A Racist Way At All." After airing a clip of Carlson claiming that Obama was engaged in whipping up hatred among African Americans, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said:
KILMEADE: Here's the problem, I think. And all of that could be true, but we've just watched President Obama three-and-a-half years, I don't think he's governed in a racist way at all. And I think that's why that's more -- I just think if that was going to be an issue, it should have been an issue in '08. Why did it come out now? That's another issue. But in terms of does anyone think that President Obama is more towards one race? I don't think so. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/3/12, via Media Matters]