Middle East studies in the News
LA Times Reaffirms It Will Not Publish Mysterious Obama, Khalidi Recording
by Sharona Schwartz
The release of the hidden camera Mitt Romney video this week is reminding some conservative bloggers of a talked-about story four years ago, and they're now asking if and when another potentially explosive videotape will see the light of day.
Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit writes:
The Daily Caller writes:
Daily Pundit writes:
And the pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon writes:
Here at TheBlaze we thought those were good questions too, so we contacted the Los Angeles Times to find out if their position – refusing since 2008 to publish the Obama/Khalidi video – has changed on the matter.
First, some background. In April 2008, as the presidential campaign was getting underway, Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times published a story describing the going-away party for Professor Rashid Khalidi, a devoted advocate to the Palestinian cause and a harsh critic of Israel, who was on his way to a position at Columbia University. Khalidi was also a past spokesman for the PLO. The dinner occurred in 2003, when Barack Obama was then an Illinois state senator. Wallsten wrote:
The Times reported that while in Chicago, Obama had attended events where anger at Israel and American Mideast policy "was freely expressed," including at the Khalidi farewell party where a Palestinian American read a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism against the Palestinians. Another speaker compared Jewish settlers to Osama bin Laden, both said to be "blinded by ideology."
By contrast, the Times wrote, "Obama adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground."
Khalidi's going-away party in 2003 was recorded, a copy of which was obtained by the Times — which, despite calls from then GOP rival presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and other conservatives, has never agreed to release the tape. The Times said then that it was given the video on condition it not be shown to anyone else and kept that promise.
American Thinker columnist Daren Jonescu writes:
Then, the story resurfaced in April this year after the Los Angeles Times decided to publish incendiary photos of U.S. servicemen posing with the body parts of Afghan suicide bombers. Why did the paper's editors decide to publish those photos – which had been photographed two years before (not a breaking news event) – and not the Obama video which was also a number of years old?
The Times offered this explanation for publishing the Afghan photos to readers:
This summer, Breitbart offered a $50,000 reward to whoever can provide a verifiable, complete recording of the 2003 Khalidi farewell dinner. In its reward offer, Breitbart.com wrote that without the tape there was no way to verify reporter Wallsten's claim that Obama did indeed take a different tone than the more stridently-worded pro-Palestinian attendees. Breitbart.com wrote in July:
[Update: On Thursday, Breitbart announced it was doubling the reward, to $100,000.]
On Wednesday TheBlaze contacted Nancy Sullivan, vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Times, via e-mail. We asked her if in light of the emergence this week of the Romney tape that shows the candidate expressing his opinions on the Arab-Israeli peace process, would the LA Times consider making public the Khalidi party tape.
We also asked how the paper wished to respond to those who suggest the paper is being inconsistent in the images it chooses to publish – on the one hand releasing inflammatory images of US soldiers posing with body parts in Afghanistan and on the other hand withholding the recording of Obama.
If the paper's position on the 2003 Obama tape has not changed, we asked, why does it continue to refuse to release the tape, rather than allow the public to make its own informed decisions based on the impartial information it is able to provide.
This is her answer:
So there you have it. The tape stays hidden, until any enterprising journalists, GOP researchers or anonymous sources come up with the goods. The parallel with Mother Jones' Romney tape is interesting: both cases have the power to reveal the candidates' true opinion on the Arab-Israeli conflict when their guards are low, in a non-public setting.
To reveal or not to reveal the tape sounds a lot like the editorial dilemma that faced the LA Times' editor in the Afghan photo case. As he said then, the paper's job is to report "vigorously and impartially" and to publish information that helps the public make "informed decisions." And what more impactful decision do citizens make than choosing for whom to vote? To vigorously report or to keep a promise to a source? A dilemma indeed.
This story has been updated to include the higher reward amount Breitbart announced.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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