Ben Carson: Where Was the Media’s Interest in Obama’s Relation to the Rev. Wright, Frank Davis, Bill Ayers . . . ?
By John Fund — November 8, 2015
EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:   Just before the 2008 election, Mark Halperin, co-author of the best-selling campaign book Game Change and now a Bloomberg TV host, was asked at a conference if the media had been too soft on Obama. He answered yes and went on to say that through the subtle choice of which stories to cover and where to deploy investigative resources, the national media had handed Obama “hundreds of millions in free publicity.”
Halperin attributed the positive coverage in part to the historic nature of Obama’s candidacy. But he also noted that only a few hands had gone up in the crowded room when the audience had been asked how many had voted for George W. Bush. “I find it curious that far more time and media energy has been spent on Sarah Palin’s time in Wasilla, Alaska’s, city government in the last eight weeks than in looking at Barack Obama’s dozen years in Chicago politics and government over the last 18 months of his candidacy,” he noted dryly. And Ms. Palin was only running for vice president. . . . He called on reporters to look at their 2008 coverage of candidates after the election, in hopes that in the future they will “do a better job treating people equally.”
As Ben Carson might say: fat chance of that happening.
#share#It’s worth revisiting just how much the media gave Obama a pass in 2008. Take the infamous videos of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s Chicago pastor. Brian Ross’s ABC News report on Wright didn’t air until March 13, 2008, after more than 40 states had voted in the Democratic nomination contest and Obama needed only 225 delegates to wrap up the race against Hillary Clinton. Ironically, the videos of Wright’s speeches had been hiding in plain sight, easily obtainable in the gift store of Wright’s church. “After the videos hit, Obama narrowly limped home to the nomination as Hillary outperformed him badly, 302 to 171 in delegates in the final three months,” noted media critic Dan Curry earlier this year on his blog, Reverse Spin. If the Wright videos had hit prior to the Iowa caucuses, he says they “would undoubtedly have been devastating and fatal to a largely undefined Barack Obama.”
Ironically, the Wright videos had in fact emerged earlier, in February 2007, when Rolling Stone ran a piece called “The Radical Roots of Barack Obama” right before Obama announced his bid for the presidency. The story so rattled the Obama team that they pulled Wright from the speaking roster less than 24 hours before the campaign announcement. But as former CBS News reporter Bernie Goldberg noted, the follow-up coverage on the Wright story was scant and notably apologetic. The story should have prompted full explorations of the Obama-Wright connections. Instead, there was media malpractice.
The media malpractice extended to many other areas of Obama’s life.
In October 2007, the New York Times ran an article headlined “Obama’s Account of New York Years Often Differs from What Others Say.” It reported that Obama resisted any attempts to reconcile his account in his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father with the recollections and records of those who knew him. The Times reported:
Yet he declined repeated requests to talk about his New York years, release his Columbia transcript, or identify even a single fellow student, co-worker, roommate, or friend from those years.
A campaign spokesman, Ben LaBolt, had this explanation for the candidate’s silence: “He doesn’t remember the names of a lot of people in his life.”

Obama was also not willing to part with many of the names of people he knew and did remember, even those of whom he would have had records. His campaign declined to release a list of the approximately 30 clients for whom he worked personally while he was a lawyer with a law firm with close ties to the Daley machine in Chicago. His campaign also concealed and obfuscated relevant facts about Obama’s ties to the radical group ACORN — in the 1990s, he had served as a top trainer and lawyer for ACORN.
Jack Cashill, the author of Deconstructing Obama, noted this weekend that Carson was right to point out the media’s lack of interest in Frank Marshall Davis, a well-known Communist who was Obama’s mentor in Hawaii. Davis wasn’t someone whose membership in the Communist party was a youthful indiscretion. He was a member of the party during the Stalin era until he was well into his 40s, and in 1956, Davis even took the Fifth Amendment in front of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.
Obama spent 2,500 words in Dreams from My Father describing Davis’s influence on his life, but, before the 2008 election, no mainstream media outlet examined the connection.
But Obama was clearly worried that Marshall’s past might haunt Obama in the run-up to this presidential campaign. His publisher said he “personally approved” the audio version of his memoir when it was released in 2005. That version removed all 22 of the book’s references to his mentor “Frank.”
In 2012, David Maraniss of the Washington Post published a biography of Obama that belatedly discussed Davis as well as the many discrepancies in Obama’s account of his life. In his review of the Maraniss book, Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith wrote, “I counted 38 instances in which the biographer convincingly disputes significant elements of Obama’s own story of his life and his family history.” But reporters investigated very few of those discrepancies before the 2008 election.
No one is suggesting that Ben Carson be given a pass on statements he made in his autobiography. Those are fair game. Carson has also at times unfairly lashed out at reporters — he criticized NRO’s Jim Geraghty for investigating Carson’s speeches and appearance for Mannatech. We should call out Carson for these unfair assaults.
But let’s stop pretending that there isn’t a glaring double standard in how presidential candidates are treated if they depart from the mainstream media’s ideological premises.
As Ben Carson put it in his news conference last Friday: “There is a fair way to do this and a very unfair way to do this.”
— John Fund is National Review Online’s national-affairs correspondent.




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