Saturday, May 31, 2008

Caution About Video

I've had some private emails about my comments concerning Larry Johnson's posts about a video alleged to show Michelle Obama saying objectionable things about whites. (I hope everyone can follow that...) I want to take a brief moment to be clear about my position. It is only my position and everyone is free to disagree.
  1. I am not saying in any way shape or form that Larry Johnson is lying about the existence of some video of Michelle Obama. Please. Larry would not do that. A video of some kind exists.
  2. If you read his posts closely, Larry does not claim to have seen the video in question himself. I may have missed a post where he did state this, but in the posts I have read, he does not. He was very clear that he has spoken to at least two people who do not know each other, who he trusts completely, and who have attested to the existence of a video.
  3. I do not consider the fact that some whacko rightwing bazillionaire has offered $1 million for a copy of the video to be proof of anything. Why not? Because the *rumor* of a terrible, career destroying video is something you can dangle in front of people for a long time and which can't be countered except by exasperated assertions that it doesn't exist. After all, the total lack of evidence is the surest sign that the conspiracy is succeeding. The offer of a bounty, absent something more substantive, has all the hallmarks of a classic Republican ratfucking operation. Thus, I want to know more.
  4. If Larry says he has something for us to see by 9:00 AM on Monday, then the man will deliver.
  5. Larry has not promised a video for Monday. He just promised something big. I am very interested to see what he has in hand.
  6. Given the doctored clip from The War Room, putting slurs into Mickey Kantor's mouth, I think it is strongly in everyone's interests to approach any video with a big heap of healthy scepticism. While I trust Larry not to knowingly pass on anything that did not check out, I also know that there are a lot of people out there who would like nothing more than for Democrats generally and Hillary supporters in particular, to be led into a trap. Thus, I advise caution and critical evaluation of anything that purports to be explosive (video or something else), and to look carefully for signs that Larry may not have caught. The credibility you save will be your own.
  7. Two words: Dan Rather. Something can be true and yet still be a trap.

So, my caution is based on past examples from this campaign and from others of how something purporting to be true turns out to be a hoax or a trap. Don't let eagerness to hurt a political opponent make you gullible.

I also say that whether or not I like Michelle Obama, there's a shitload of sexism and, yes, racism (not to mention foul language and plain old bad manners) aimed at her that is not acceptable under any circumstances. I don't care if she's been a jerk. I don't like sexism aimed at Hillary and I don't like it aimed at any other female public figure, even those who tick me off. I fully expect that somewhere there is a video showing Michelle behind the pulpit at TUCC and saying things that I might find objectionable. Why? She's a long standing member of that church, she's a woman who bluntly speaks her mind, and things I find objectionable appear to be acceptable at TUCC. But thinking that there is some video that shows this person saying something so shocking that it will change the course of the campaign? Not unless I actually see a video that several disinterested professional video analysts attest has not been modified or altered and I decide that what she says is actually something I find objectionable. Further, even if I find her words objectionable, that doesn't mean I'll find them politically relevant. What others make of it is another thing entirely.

On Monday, I'll examine the evidence and draw my own conclusions.



Shainzona said...

I agree, Anglachel, but I'm going to bed tonight with a prayer on my lips, "Please God, let it be and let it be real!".

My Name Is Earl said...

Larry's site was hijacked. At first it displayed a page saying "It works" and then you get a 404 error.

Seems like someone might have had some concerns about something.

Andre said...

At this point in my life and in the hyper-intensive political climate I find myself, I keep coming back to the belief that all things are connected, and as good citizens we must find out these connections. The videos of Wright and Pfleiger (Sp ?) are not earth shattering in their own right, but the attempt to keep us from learning or even thinking about the connections of the candidate to the thoughts expressed in those videos is the bigger problem I see. Any video of Michelle, once its accuracy is assured, will help to establish the connection which needs to be brought out. We need to have the truth and accuracy established in this area, because it relates to all other areas concerning this relatively unknown candidate.

But I agree with you, Anglachel, at this point the candidate may be done for. Although it's a long way to November, I can't see it getting any better in the area of TUCC for the candidate, even after quitting.

BernieO said...

I just read Obama's actual statement he made when quitting the church. The media is overlooking the fact that he said he was doing this to PROTECT THE CHURCH FROM SCRUTINY. Read the exact quote:
"We don't want to have to answer for everything that's stated in a church," Obama said Saturday. "On the other hand, we also don't want a church subjected to the scrutiny that a presidential campaign legitimately undergoes."

"I'm not denouncing the church," he said, "and I'm not interested in people who want me to denounce the church." He said the church's congregation does not hold anti-white or anti-American views.

Am I crazy or does this just make the problem worse for him - if, that is, the media bothers to report it.

pm317 said...

bernieO, looks like his usual "let me have my cake and eat it too" strategy. Not wanting scrutiny he is telling the church, I'm doing you a favor and by resigning he thinks he is fooling people you and me. That renounce thing is meaningless -- it is his usual arrogance, "I am not interested in people who don't think I am a messiah" kind of attitude. Expect H&C and FOX type to go through this with a fine tooth comb -- they will not let it go as an issue.

Pat Johnson said...

Regardless of how much I dislike the Obama's I have to keep in mind that there was a video that was sold by the Jerry Falwell operatives purpotedly claiming that the Clinton's were murderers, hijackers, and drug dealers.

Even though that tape was eventually shown to be bogus an amazing number of people still cling to those false claims. You can witness many of those assertions today being bandied around the blogosphere of proof of Hillary Clinton's "unworthiness".

I would truly welcome any evidence that unmasks Obama because I believe that he is not presidential material but it must be viewed in light of its origin and veracity.

Again, as much as I dislike the Obama's I do not want them to have to suffer the same lies and distortions that the Clinton's suffered because of politics.

speck said...

Anglachel, thank you for showing leadership on this matter. If we're not careful to keep our integrity, "progressive blogosphere 2.0" will go the same way as version 1.0, and fast.

Anglachel said...

Earl, I saw the problems and I don't think it is hijacking. I think either he has really high traffic (which would make sense given the claims about the video) or he has some bad ad code. It's currently back but slow.

bernieo, TUCC is the wedge the Republicans will use to defeat Obama. What you quoted, ironically enough, makes me feel more sympathetic towards Obama than not. I don't think TUCC is nothing but the outrageous sermons that have been shown, and I actually think it says something good about Obama that he wants to protect the church. It remains the case, unfortunately, that TUCC is a political liability. Obama had to make a choice some time ago, which was to pursue national politics or remain in his church. He would not make the choice and now both the party and the church are paying for it.

shainzona, actually, I am heartsick that such a video might exist. This should never have been an issue. While it might hurt Obama, it will hurt the Democrats long-term even more. It makes the campaign about race relations and not about the damage the Republicans have done to the country. I don't want this to happen to the party. Whether you believe it or not, I don't want this to happen to either of the Obamas, either. This is what the Republicans do, and this is why Hillary could be smeared with impunity this year, because of the decades of lies the rightwing noise machine has vomited up.


Shainzona said...

Anglachel: I know you're right, but I have such anger right now that I truly do not know where to direct it.

I do not like that about me and I will get over it (BUT never to the point of being willing/able to vote for Obama), but this primary has really made me feel that I have been kicked to the curb...and my emotions and feelings run very very deep.

Conversely, if there is a tape, I do hope that it is real and not a fraud... for the sake of Larry Johnson - who has been a strong ally to HRC supporters.

We come to you, Anglachel, for other things, but Larry and Susan have given us a safe harbor in which to vent.

orionATL said...

this is VERY sound advice.

i have observed repeatedly that the most activist of the clinton websites,

websites for which i am very grateful

tend to feel that vague or equivocal information about senator obama is self-evidently conclusive of misconduct.

that has not happened yet.

it may, but so far it has not.

i still read all i can get my hands on of these types of reports,

and keep trying to process all the info into a coherent picture of the senator.

who he is and what he has done for good or ill,

will, in time, become evident; it does not need to be forced.

but six months of reading weblogs makes clear that the more sensational reports must be approached with the caution and the skeptical frame of mind anglachel encourages.

cayugalad said...

Hello all, I've been a lurker for about a month and a half, and wanted to take the opportunity to say to Anglachel that she is my new favorite pure writer. Your essays are like wine. That butt-kissing done, I actually hope the vid exists, and I hope it's true, and I hope the Democratic Party suffers mightily due to it-BECAUSE, I think that's what it's going to take to cauterize this wound the O's have rubbed raw. Call a fellow Dem a racist? Never get called on it by party elders? Well, sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Just MHO.

show me said...


Thanks for making the point that I always make when I get into comment section skirmishes with Hillary haters. Sexism is wrong, no matter who it is directed towards and all progressives should stand against it.

As for the video that Larry Johnson is talking about, I share your misgivings. I don't visit that site too often. The hate meter is a little too high for me over there. I appreciate the passion but hate is going to get us exactly nowhere in this country.

Cathy said...

Hanging my head yesterday over my comments on the video. Like you I see it as less of a liability for Obama. [After Wright, there is not much more than can be said about his church and race bigotry.] I just hoped for something.

Two things disturb today:

1. The videos widely played of the women after yesterday's meeting. Notably the one where the woman screams about a black man having to do less than a "white" woman. The issue is "woman" because a black woman would never have gotten this far.

2. The lower turnout in Puerto Rico.

The former will be the norm after this election. Clearly the Party has set Obama to win and hidden behind race. (Though quotes emerging show that yesterday's vote was all about showing Clintons who runs the DNC.) White voters are going to react to it in anger and build up his sympathy levels.

[Will that be enough for him to win. Hell, no. But it might make rewriting history easier.]

I worry the lower turnout means people are giving up. Or worse buying into the racist syllogisms being set the Obama/DNC. One that in their anger some Hillary supporters are opening the door up to . . .

Anglachel said...


I hear you. It's hard not to be enraged given the conduct of the campaign.

Whatever Larry presents, he will have done his damndest to make sure it is 100% solid. He doesn't make amateur mistakes. My concerns are two: first, that he may have missed something that shows it is a trap, so we need to help him and ourselves by scrutinizing it carefully, and second that what he thinks is important may not have salience outside of his circle with just the evidence he has. For example, I don't think the general public gives a damn about Ayers if all you can show are quotes and argue about history. But the pictures that appear to show him standing on/desecrating the US flag, that's going to get people riled up.

Every blog has its flavor and purpose. Some explain, some rally, some politick, some debunk, but we're all in it together.