r. New Politics has a bright, shiny new way to deal with political speech and the free discourse of ideas, and he’s borrowed it from Li’l Kim Jong Il and the Burmese junta:
And tonight, the [Obama] campaign launched a more specific campaign: an effort to disrupt the appearance by a writer for National Review, Stanley Kurtz, on a Chicago radio program. Kurtz has been writing about Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers, and has suggested that papers housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago would reveal new details of that relationship.
The campaign e-mailed Chicago supporters who had signed up for the Obama Action Wire with detailed instructions including the station’s telephone number and the show’s extension, as well as a research file on Kurtz, which seems to prove that he’s a conservative, which isn’t in dispute. The file cites a couple of his more controversial pieces, notably his much-maligned claim that same-sex unions have undermined marriage in Scandinavia.
Read the rest of Ben Smith’s piece at Politico here.
When the Obama campaign’s earlier effort to force the DOJ to launch a criminal investigation into the backers and funders of The American Issues Project over its Bill Ayres ad at least has a leg to stand on, albeit one ugly and whithered leg, since it questioned compliance with campaign funding laws. But here’s their argument this time:
“Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse,” says the email, which picks up a form of pressure on the press pioneered by conservative talk radio hosts and activists in the 1990s, and since adopted by Media Matters and other liberal groups.
Where’s the crime there? This effort doesn’t even enjoy the paper-thin cover of the DOJ romp: It is an all-out attack on a journalist’s right to report news, and a news program’s right to do the same. Neither Kurtz nor WGN are accused by Obama of any illegal act; they only are reporting on a story Obama would rather not see publicized. Worse, they’re doing it in Chicago, where the Ayres/Obama relationship happened – whatever it was – so it is a legitimate local story, not just a national story with no local roots.
The norm for this sort of occasion is for the campaign to let its supporters know the time and call-in number of the show so the host’s call-in lines will be swamped with people who have been provided talking points to rebut the points made by the campaign’s critic. Or, they could be asked to call the producer and request (politely) that an Obama spokesperson be put on the show, too, to rebut Kurtz.
Not so this time. This is an effort to, in effect, pull the newspaper off the press, or pull the plug on the broadcaster. Hugo Chavez, take note: Obama’s guys are reading from your playbook. Heck, they’re even going farther. According to the ChiTrib, the campaign’s freezing out the station:
Christenson [the WGN show's producer] said the Obama campaign was asked to have someone appear on the show and the headquarters declined the request.
“He got into the files just yesterday, so we wanted to have him on to find out what he found and, if at all possible, we wanted to get the Obama campaign to get their side of the story,” Christenson said. “That’s why the uproar is kind of amazing, because we wanted the Obama campaign’s take as well to kind of balance it out.”
Why wouldn’t they send a spokesperson? The excuses are many – busy with the convention, short notice – but the truth is this: that Obama and Ayres had a relationship is undeniable; that Ayres is unrepentant about his terrorist past is undeniable; that Obama has mischaracterized their relationship is undeniable.
When faced with this reality, the all-image, no-substance Obama campaign did what it saw was its only option: Send in the brown-shirted thugs to beat up the skeptics.
Chicago is a big, blue-collar, working class Dem city, and this story is playing huge there – top of the page this a.m. on the ChiTrib web site, for example. I don’t think it’s a story that will appeal much to Chicago’s blue-collar, working class Dems, who tend to side with the little guy, not the bully.
OK, enough of the set-up. How did the show go? NRO should be a good source, eh?
Evidently, much of Obama nation is comprised of obedient and persistent sheep. They jammed all five studio lines for nearly the entire show while firing off dozens of angry emails. Many vowed to kick their grievances up the food chain to station management. After 90 minutes of alleged smear peddling, Milt Rosenberg (a well-respected host whose long-form interview show has aired in Chicago for decades) opened the phone lines, and blind ignorance soon began to crackle across the AM airwaves. The overwhelming message was clear: The interview must be put to an end immediately, and the station management should prevent similar discussions from taking place.
One female caller, when pressed about what precisely she objected to, simply replied, “We just want it to stop!” Another angry caller was asked what “lies” Kurtz had told in any of his reporting on Barack Obama. The thoughtful response? “Everything he said is dishonest.” The same caller later refused to get into “specifics.” Another gentleman called Kurtz “the most un-American person” he’d ever heard. Several of the callers did not even know Stanley’s name, most had obviously never read a sentence of his meticulous research, and more than simply read verbatim from the Obama talking points.
As Rosenberg repeatedly pointed out that Team Obama had been offered the opporunity to take part in the conversation, the agitated masses adopted their argument to suggest it was outrageous to request an interview from the Obama campaign in the thick of the DNC. Delivering the line of the night, Rosenberg countered, “The Obama national headquarters is just down the street from here. They obviously have the time to send out these angry emails, but they can’t walk a few blocks to our studios?”
OK, that was the show. What was the take-away?
The experience was surreal, amusing, and chilling. In a matter of hours, a major national campaign had called on its legions to bully a radio show out of airing an interview with a legitimate scholar asking legitimate political questions. Coupled with the Obama campaign’s recent attempts to sic the DOJ on the creators of a truthful political advertisement —which also happened to feature Obama’s relationship with an unrepentant terrorist— last night’s call to action represents an emerging pattern. Any criticism of Obama’s unknown past is to be immediately denounced as a “smear,” and the messenger is to be shut down at all costs.
Read the whole piece here.
The NY Times, keeper that it is of the torch for journalistic freedom, should be editorializing on this matter any minute now, right? We’ll keep our eyes open. Meanwhile, this nice little piece of art I found this a.m. pretty much sums up Obama’s thoughts on the matter: