Monday, February 05, 2007

Others Still Don't Find Obama Report Insightful

It's been tossed around again lately and Insight has taken its fair share of lumps and bruises from media outlets like CNN and The Washington Post over its Hillary/Obama story.

Basically, the magazine, citing unnamed sources from Hillary Clinton's political camp, reported that her people were doing some digging into Sen. Barack Obama's background. Apparently, the young senator does not divulge a lot of details about his religious background. According to Insight's article, Clinton's people did some snooping around Obama's earlier life and discovered that he was allegedly raised as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia and attended about four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in that country, which, according to CNN, is not the case.

The sources said that the Illinois senator was not forthcoming about his education or religion and that Hillary and company planned on using this information, reports the Jan. 17, 2007 article, “Hillary's team has questions about Obama's Muslim background.” And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the alleged report is true, it would find its way to major news organizations around, oh, probably during the primary elections.

But this is when the fun really starts, as well as the hypocrisy. Howard Kurtz, a Washington Post staff writer/columnist and host of CNN's Reliable Sources, basically writes that no one should really take Insight's article seriously, because the story used unnamed sources. The magazine fired back in an editorial, saying how hypocritical it was for Kurtz to make that statement, while Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein made a career out of using unnamed sources. Does “Deep Throat” ring a bell? CNN also mentions unnamed sources in its own article, as if to discredit the article, while they too have used the same types of sources. And feel free to click on all the links to get the detailed information.

And the Democrats seem to be so big on diversity, yet here is another bit of hypocrisy. In Kurtz's same column, Jan. 22, 2007 column, "Hillary, Obama and Anonymous Sources," he interviewed Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, who dismissed the article because Insight is owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a controversial man to say the least. You would think Hillary would have trained her spokesman better than to just trash a man of faith. But since many consider Moon out there anyway, it's a moot point.

And let's face it; of course Wolfson is going to say the article is false. That's the only thing he can say. It's not like he's going to say, “Yeah, Mr. Kurtz, those rightwing nuts really nailed us good this time. And guess what? Hillary has a whole bunch of teams in waiting to start digging dirt on other opponents that she feels would threaten her chances of the White House.” And come on, who wouldn't love to hear someone in politics be that truthful just once?

Anyway, I'm willing to bet that Insight is very much like its sister publication, the Washington Times, a daily newspaper, when it comes to its day-to-day operations. A few years back I applied to the Washington Times for a job and I heard all about Rev. Moon and I'll be honest, it had me concerned. I was assured that people weren't walking around in robes chanting. And once I was there, I was pleased to see that the newspaper operated like any other big city daily publication, with reporters running around getting last-minute quotes and editors deciding what's going to appear on the front page for the next morning's issue. Of course, it's possible that I couldn't hear the mass weddings going on in the basement but I doubt it.

And while Insight ran an editorial defending the article and attacking Kurtz and other media like The Washington Post, they missed on something that I would have hammered a bit on. What I found interesting, in a sense, was how CNN and others came to defend Clinton and Obama. Usually, when political mud, either using named and unnamed sources, makes the news, it's a like a feeding frenzy with the media. They usually fall all over themselves to get the best coverage. Nothing like that here and it should make some wonder why that is.

So, is the story true? It seems true and not that far fetched. The New York senator probably had a team to find everything out about Obama, only because of who she is. No, not because she's a Clinton or a Democrat but a politician and this is what they do. They all get their people to start digging up any dirty secret they can use against an opponent, regardless if they are friend or foe, and use it to their advantage. This is politics at its best.

Yes, lots of leaders use their religious background for guidance and to shape a path for the people they serve. Obama, whether he is truly a Christian or a Muslim, is no different. He seems like a decent man but one needs to be weary of the one background that should scare us all: He's a politician. And either Democrat or Republican, not all are who they seem to be.