MRC Special Report: The Media's Obama Miracle

How Journalists Pretend There Aren't Any White House Scandals

The most threatening scandal of Obama’s first campaign for president was the discovery that Obama’s minister of 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, offered harshly anti-American sermons where he said “God damn America,” and suggested America deserved 9/11, that the attacks on New York and Washington were the death-dealing terrorist chickens “coming home to roost.”

In May, author Ed Klein revealed that for his new anti-Obama book, The Amateur, he taped an interview with Rev. Wright, who told him, “After the media went ballistic on me, I received an e-mail offering me money not to preach at all until after the November presidential election...It was from one of Barack’s closest friends.”   

On Fox News on May 17, Klein told Fox News host Sean Hannity that the friend Wright implicated was Eric Whitaker, a personal friend from Harvard days who works at the University of Chicago Hospital. He’s vacationed with the Obamas and golfs with the president.  Hannity asked, “Do you think it’s possible that Whitaker could have made that offer just independently on his own?” 



Klein said no, “Because I don’t think Whitaker would have done something as important as that without -- first of all, he was a confidante of Barack Obama’s. I mean, they were as close as brothers could be. And I don’t think he would have done something as dramatic as offering $150,000 bribe without checking with his pal, Barack, and saying, maybe we should do something about silencing this minister.” Network coverage? Zero.      

Perhaps this story is too inflammatory to accept from such a disgruntled source. But these same networks have been eager to welcome authors with all kinds of harsh allegations about Republican presidents. For example, in 2004 NBC’s Matt Lauer welcomed Kitty Kelley to unload personal allegations against George W. and Laura Bush. In 1999, CBS even put an anti-Bush author on 60 Minutes claiming Bush had been arrested for cocaine possession in 1972. That anti-Bush author, J.H. Hatfield, had been convicted in 1988 of paying a hit man $5,000 to murder his former boss with a car bomb. CBS reported his claims anyway.    

The networks wouldn’t touch allegations of a Wright hush-money offer. But CBS and NBC each briefly sprung into action on Wright at the whisper of a chance that a Republican would run an ad against Obama’s re-election using Rev. Wright.    

On the May 22 CBS This Morning, Bob Schieffer expressed happiness that this plot was foiled: “You know, we saw this week, Charlie, we saw Republicans roundly denounce a plan that some Republicans had to launch this race-baiting campaign tied -- trying to tie the President once again to Jeremiah Wright. Now we’re seeing people on the Democratic side denouncing this, saying,  ‘wait a minute, this has gone too far.’”   

The media elite insisted it would be terrible if super-PAC ads raised uncomfortable associations like Wright’s connection to Obama. But Schieffer didn’t find it terrible when his own network ran sleazy cocaine allegations against Bush, or when NBC put on “expert” like Kitty Kelley to make unsubstantiated attacks on Bush. The news networks, in their own imaginations, are never as sleazy as TV ads.