On Sunday, March 16, 2008, the rightist tabloid NewsMax published an article by Ronald Kessler that claimed that Barack Obama had attended a controversial sermon by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama has previously denied that any of the sermons he attended at Wright’s church contained the inflammatory language that has been getting so much attention from the press as of late.
Kessler’s article would be a startling revelation that brings Obama’s veracity into question, except for one thing. Kessler’s article isn’t true. Obama’s campaign provided proof that he was in Miami on the day that Kessler’s source (another NewsMax columnist) said that he was in the pew. But NewsMax’s dirty deed was already done. The story had proliferated into the Conventional Media and was already polluting the news environment.
First and foremost, William Kristol of the New York Times cited Kessler when he regurgitated the false story in his Monday column. The bulk of the editorial was devoted to praising the “next generation” while insulting his own:
“Many of its members seem more serious and impressive than we baby boomers were when our elders were foolishly praising us, 40 years ago, as the best-educated, most idealistic generation ever. Many of the best of this young generation are serving their country – either in the military or otherwise.”
Frankly, I don’t recall many elders lavishing much praise on the youth of 1968, although they were the best-educated, most idealistic generation up to that time, and they did serve their country in numbers far greater than today’s youth. And they died in far greater numbers as well – 58,000 in Vietnam. Kristol doesn’t think that’s impressive, but he has no qualms about using the issue to infect the news cycle with lies about Sen. Obama.
Next comes Fox News, who featured Kessler’s fiction in their own story. Originally titled “Report Places Obama at Controversial July ’07 Wright Sermon,” it was altered to “Schedule Puts Obama in Miami During July ’07 Wright Sermon,” after Kessler’s errors were revealed. Still, Fox soft-peddles the correction by saying that:
“Doubts were cast on the story Monday as records showed the Democratic presidential contender was in Miami that day.”
“Doubts were cast on the story…” is how Fox characterizes the production of documentary evidence that eviscerates the story. The spin is dizzying. And it is continuing as the falsehood is spread through the conservative media. Even though Kessler and Kristol have published corrections of sorts, the virus has been unleashed and is circulating. Kessler’s correction merely conceded that the date was wrong, but he stands by the assertion that Obama was present at some unspecified sermon that occurred on some vague date, and he expects us to swallow the rest of the story’s details as factual.
This is how mythical slander about Obama being a Muslim or swearing the oath of office on the Koran gets adopted by much of the public. It is how the war in Iraq was sold by Vice President Cheney when he appeared on Meet the Press and cited an article in the New York Times that was sourced to a leaker in the Vice President’s own office. It’s a circular wheel of propaganda that needs to be exposed if Americans ever to get honest representations of their government and their world.