Politico: We would have released the Khalidi tape

posted at 9:37 am on October 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Last night, in their report about the McCain campaign’s demand that the Los Angeles Times release a key videotape, Politico’s Ben Smith noted that his organization would have released it long ago.  The LA Times spokesperson told Smith when he inquired about the tape that any news organization would have left the story after its reporting concluded, and insisted that they saw no extra news value in a tape that reportedly features Barack Obama praising former Yasser Arafat toady Rashid Khalidi at a 2003 going-away party.  Smith responds by noting that Politico trusts its readers to make that determination:

The paper hasn’t explained its unwillingness to release the video, and Peter Wallsten, who found the tape and wrote about it, declined to discuss it with me last night. He forwarded an e-mail that the paper has sent readers who have complained as conservative blogs raise the issue.

“Over six months ago the Los Angeles Times published a detailed account of the events shown on the videotape. The Times is not suppressing anything. Just the opposite — the L.A. Times brought the matter to light,” wrote the readers’ representative, Jamie Gold.

L.A. Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan wouldn’t discuss the decision not to release the tape in detail.

“When we reported on the tape six months ago, that was our full report,” she said, and asked, “Does Politico release unpublished information?”

The answer to that question is yes — Politico and most news outlets constantly make available videos and documents, after describing them in part, which is why the Times’ decision not to release the video is puzzling. My instinct, and many reporters’, is to share as much source material as possible.

This story begins early in Barack Obama’s political career.  He had befriended Khalidi and had helped get Khalidi funding through the Woods Fund, with fellow board member and former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers.  In 2003, Khalidi left Chicago to accept the Edward Said professorship at Columbia University, and Barack Obama attended his going-away party.  The Los Angeles Times covered this story in April:

At Khalidi’s 2003 farewell party, for example, a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, “then you will never see a day of peace.”

One speaker likened “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been “blinded by ideology.”

Obama adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground. But his presence at such events, as he worked to build a political base in Chicago, has led some Palestinian leaders to believe that he might deal differently with the Middle East than either of his opponents for the White House.

Now the LAT says it promised its source that it would not release the videotape of the event:

John McCain’s presidential campaign Tuesday accused the Los Angeles Times of “intentionally suppressing” a videotape it obtained of a 2003 banquet where then-state Sen. Barack Obama spoke of his friendship with Rashid Khalidi, a leading Palestinian scholar and activist. …

“The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it,” said the newspaper’s editor, Russ Stanton. “The Times keeps its promises to sources.”

That explanation raises more questions than it answers.  If the Times promised to keep the videotape under wraps, then it must contain content other than their “detailed account of the events”.  What exactly did the LA Times leave out of its reporting in April?  If it left nothing out, then what good was the promise not to release the tape itself?

The McCain campaign has a point here.  The LA Times should either release the videotape, or write a complete transcript of the contents and publish it immediately, with at least one independent source verifying its accuracy.  The event has obvious news and electoral value, and given Obama’s extremely thin record of public leadership, the electorate needs as much information about Obama’s public work as possible.  The reticence of the Times to publish source material in its possession indicates some intent to obfuscate or deceive.

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Andy McCarthy nails it:

Hypothetical: If the LATimes released the Khalidi tape and ABC put it on up against Obama’s speech, what do you figure would get higher ratings?

Abby Adams on October 29, 2008 at 11:51 AM

SnarkVader on October 29, 2008 at 10:34 AM

From the article…..

The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi’s group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of “sociopolitical attitudes.”

Of course, there’s seemingly nothing objectionable with McCain’s organization helping a Palestinian group conduct research in the West Bank or Gaza.

There is a difference in funding opinion polls and heaping lavish praise on a guy who wants is an anti-Semite.

Obama has a long and extensive history of personal and social interaction with these radicals and then we have a single instance of John McCain funding an opinion poll.

csdeven on October 29, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Pardon me if I am skeptical. Ben Smith at Politico has already admitted to sitting on a damaging story.

benjamin on October 29, 2008 at 11:56 AM

So, if you had a tape of McCain toasting a spokesman for, say, Aryan Nation, or some other terrorist/criminal organization, you would have the same reluctance to release the tape?

Republican on October 29, 2008 at 10:58 AM

I told them I was leaning toward voting for Obama but this tape gives me pause. “Please release it so I can make an informed decision. I do not want my vote wasted on a man who is hiding his true beliefs from the public.”

csdeven on October 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM

If the LA Times reported on this in April, why wait until one week before the election to make an issue out of it?

If you had, say, a month, you could put enough pressure on the Times that they might release the tape – or the tape could surface from another source – and the contents of the tape might have time to have an impact.

Now, with less than one week to go, I’m not sure how much damage a worst-case-scenerio tape (for Obama) could cause.

Bad strategy, again. They’ve had since April. APRIL!

YYZ on October 29, 2008 at 12:13 PM

I find calling the editorial dept is of limited value. Being an LAT subscriber of over 20 years, I called the subscription dept. (get them by the balls, they tend to pay attention)

My points presented to the subscription manager:

– Am I important to LAT?
– Does LAT think they are important to me?
– What service does LAT provide to me? Do they feel that me being an informed electorate is important?
– Why are they sitting on this tape?
– In 2006, they had a tape regarding Schwartzenegger talking about “Hot latina women” that they released immediately. Why is this one being held? Is it because one candidate had an (R) next to the name and the other a (D)?
– John McCain was in the navy. If he had been caught on tape in a TailHook party, would that have been important? (the LAT lakie said it would be)
– It sure seemed to me that LAT has picked a candidate and are not protecting him. My vote be damned. Democracy be damned. Obama must be protected.

His points were-
– If they wanted to suppress the story, they wouldn’t have written about it at all. In fact, they say they reprinted the story. I countered by saying that I want to view the video my self to make my OWN decisiont, not hear theirs.
– He said that he didn’t think this one story would sway the election one way or another. I said that Dan Rather faked a news story in 2004 to try and sway the election.
– I finished up by saying that in my opinon our support of Israel is critical to middle east stability. I need to know if BO is an antisemite. Not to mention the people he shared the table with: Dohrn and Ayres.
– He agreed that this was important to him to and would relay my thoughts to editorial.

kurtzz3 on October 29, 2008 at 12:26 PM

LA Times
Phone: (213) 237-5000
Fax: (213) 237-7679

moughon on October 29, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Looks like Aston Grimaldi II Chief Investment Officer of Dune Capital is offering a $150,000 reward for the tape.

Aston might want to prep for the very public colonoscopy he’s about to receive.

moxie_neanderthal on October 29, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Just stopping by. I saw this on Rand Simberg’s aerospce site. The beginning of it is satire, but one of Rand’s media sources says there’s some extremely damaging statements in that video. Here’s the link to the blog post:


Here’s the original link:

kayawanee on October 29, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Can we rename the MSM as the Kamikaze Media? I know it may not be politically correct, but work with me here for a moment:

In the case of the LA Times, we have an entity whose circulation and ad revenues are plummeting. They’re hemorrhaging readers and advertisers, and they’re laying off folks in droves.

So, knowing they’re about to die, they decide to take their remaining credibility and integrity (as little as remained) and dive headfirst into the U.S.S. McCain Campaign. Sure, they’ll be a smoldering heap of ash when it’s all said and done, but at least they inflicted one last bit of parting damage on behalf of The Cause before their permanent exit.

crushliberalism on October 29, 2008 at 12:54 PM

Isn’t it wonderful to live in a country with a free media?

Free to pick sides in an election, and suppress any news unfavorable to that side. Free to issue the most fatuous and patronizing explanations imaginable about why we the people shouldn’t worry our little heads about it, but should be scared out of our minds by the fact that President Bush got Congress to pass an act that allows terrorists to be subjected to eavesdropping?

Free to just ignore the fact that public servants in Ohio apparently have an allegiance to Obama that transcends their sworn oath to defend the rights of citizens to privacy, and able to get away with it because the Governor of Ohio also supports Obama.

Free to dissemble to us about how address verification of credit cards works, when it is the core of world commerce, so that they can pretend that their favorite candidate is not knowingly breaking the law and committing massive fraud?

I wonder, does anyone at the LAT, or any other newspaper or news channel remember what that quaint saying about a “Rule of laws, versus a rule of men” actually means? Or do they know full well, but just find it a little inconvenient at the moment?

I also wonder, do they think we are sheep? Perhaps they do, because anyone who pays money to read their lies a is indeed a sheep, and an idiot.

drunyan8315 on October 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM

Why would someone send LAT a tape if that person did not want it to be released?
Why send it to a news agency(and I use the term news agency with reservation)?
Why not send it to BHO for his private viewing enjoyment?
Why not destroy it?
IMHO it was sent with instructions not to divulge the senders identity, NOT TO BURY IT.

dragondrop on October 29, 2008 at 1:00 PM

This just in:

However, I received a tip from a person who has provided useful, accurate and unique data from LA before (e.g., “All six of CNN’s ‘undecided voters’ were Democratic operatives”). Take it for what it’s worth, but I believe this person is on target.

Saw a clip from the tape. Reason we can’t release it is because statements Obama said to rile audience up during toast. He congratulates Khalidi for his work saying “Israel has no God-given right to occupy Palestine” plus there’s been “genocide against the Palestinian people by Israelis.”

It would be really controversial if it got out. That’s why they will not even let a transcript get out.

Note that Barry’s former foreign policy advisor (who BTW is the wife of Cass Sunstein) Samantha Power shares Obama’s views vis a vis Israel and “genocide”, so this is definitely within the realm of possibility.

Buy Danish on October 29, 2008 at 1:13 PM

Perhaps if the individual that sent the tape to the LA Times would have sold it to Obama, he could have made a bundle.

“The Obama camp offered a 3 million dollar bribe to destroy the Michelle Obama tape” — From Obambi.com at http://obambi.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/payola3million/.

The LA Times should release the tape to the public for consideration; it is un-American not to do exactly that.

2008. The year the One … Lost.

Elect John McCain President of the United States of America.

AdrianS on October 29, 2008 at 1:29 PM

Not like Peter Wallsten has any ethics. He contacted me for the article and “based” this article about the video on one of mine, and ripped me off. He promised to give me credit, but didn’t, even though the Politico even noted that he plagiarized me.

And by the way, I know who gave him the tape: Ali Abunimah.

Debbie Schlussel on October 29, 2008 at 1:53 PM

I feel some strange comparisons in tactics and attitude between Nixon and Obama. Forgive me, I cannot seem to shake it.

Sultry Beauty on October 29, 2008 at 1:54 PM

A couple of ideas about the tape. If you didn’t want it to get out, why in the world would you have given it to the LA Times. Makes no sense – “I don’t want this public, so instead of putting it in a safety deposit box, I’m going to give it to the LA Times with the stipulation they can’t use it.” I call BS on the Times explanation for not releasing. The second thing is, if there’s one copy, there’s more in other hands. Wildly speculative, but my prediction is somebody (MCCain campaign maybe) already has a copy and is waiting until Thursday morning to release it. You wouldn’t want to do it before the Obama Half-Hour Variety special tonight where he would have an opportunity to spin his way around the tape. You wait until Thursday morning and just like the Palin VP announcement the morning after the DNC convention, you steal the headlines and bounce away from Obama. It’s going to be a fun weekend!

PatMac on October 29, 2008 at 2:18 PM

Debbie Schlussel, who started the investigation into the Khalidi video, thinks the L.A. Times’ source is Ali Abunimah, founder of the Arab American Action Network.

Terrie on October 29, 2008 at 2:42 PM

From CBS News’ Scott Conroy:

(BOWLING GREEN, OHIO) Over the course of her two months on the campaign trail, Sarah Palin has accused Barack Obama of “palling around with a terrorist,” wanting to “wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists” and has suggested that he doesn’t want to win the wars the United States is fighting. At a rally here this afternoon, she upped the ante even further by wondering aloud whether the Democratic nominee really supports Israel in the way he has repeatedly affirmed he does.

Palin’s impetus was a story published in the Los Angeles Times in April about a 2003 banquet, in which the then Illinois state senator spoke about his friendship with Rashid Khalidi, a former PLO spokesman and current Columbia University professor, who has a history of espousing views on Israel that many consider incendiary.

“And the twist here is that there’s a videotape of a party for this person, back in 2003, a celebration of him, and Barack was there, and we know some very derogatory things were said there about Israel and America’s support for that great nation,” Palin said. “And among other things, Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism instead of the victim.”

Palin then insinuated that Obama might not support Israel in the way he says he does.

“What we don’t know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he now professes to support,” Palin said.

Over the chorus of loud boos from the crowd, Palin pointed out that the Los Angeles Times has refused to release the videotape of the banquet, which was explained in detail in the story that the newspaper published over six months ago.

“Maybe some politicians would love to have a pet newspaper of their very own,” she said. “In this case, we have a newspaper willing to throw aside even the public’s right to know in order to protect a candidate that its own editorial board has endorsed.”

Palin, who majored in journalism in college, went on to mock the LA Times and question its integrity.

“And if there’s a Pulitzer Prize category for excelling in kowtowing, then the LA Times, you’re winning,” she said.

Y-not on October 29, 2008 at 3:08 PM

Give me a break. For DECADES I’ve watched “Pravda West” or if you prefer the “Los Angeles Times”, spin, lie and dissemble and call it “journalism”. I’ve only had personal knowledge of 4 regular news stories in that period and the LA Times reported ALL 4 of the falsely, and none of them had any “political” component at all.

To expect or even entertain the thought that this organization could possibly tell the truth or honestly report anything, is total insanity.

From spies within I know that it is an organization of liars and ideologues who’s main goal is the manipulation of the public through their publication.

CrazyGene on October 29, 2008 at 3:13 PM

Damned if they do and damned if they don’t on releasing it in my book. Keep the issue out there.

johnnyU on October 29, 2008 at 4:09 PM

Umm…. so how hard would it be for some enterprising MSM reporter to, like, interview Rashid Khalidi?

Oh, right. Never mind. All the reporters are still dumpster-diving in Alaska and Ohio.

Paul_in_NJ on October 30, 2008 at 2:51 PM