Or why understanding transitive relationships should be taught in Journalism 101.
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What the fuck was that? What do you do to assure…blah, blah, blah.
Timmeh took his cue from Richard Cohen in the Washington Post column:
Barack Obama is a member of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. Its minister, and Obama’s spiritual adviser, is the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. In 1982, the church launched Trumpet Newsmagazine; Wright’s daughters serve as publisher and executive editor. Every year, the magazine makes awards in various categories. Last year, it gave the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to a man it said “truly epitomized greatness.” That man is Louis Farrakhan.
Except, Timmeh, got the facts wrong on top of it. Wright didn’t say Farrakhan epitomized greatness, that was a part of the Trumpet Magazine award to Farrakhan. Wright is the CEO of the magazine, but his daughter Jeri is the publisher. While those ties might be relevant, it’s very different from Jeremiah Wright saying that. And, in fact, the magazine split off from the congregation in September of 2005.
The thing is, everyone is missing the point about how fucking stupid this line of questioning was. When was the last time Timmeh took on some right wing fundamentalists for being anti-semitic? So why isn’t George Bush asked about every anti-semitic rant by LaHaye or Wildmon since by the transitive property Timmeh is invoking, Bush has close spiritual adivisors who work closely with them?
The Council on National Policy alone contains a whole host of anti-semitic right wing Christians who hobnob with the Tony Perkins and the Richard Lands and the Dobsons of the world, but that transitive connection would never be brought up would it? This isn’t just a connection of someone who goes on a trip with or says something nice, it’s a working group of conservative fundamentalists who welcome anti-semitism into their efforts to bring about a Christian government. Of course, the Bush administration has routinely played footsy with Wildmon, not just had a friend of his be nice to him on occasion.
This would never be an issue for a white candidate and shame on Timmeh for trying to do it to Obama. If Timmeh wants to be concerned about anti-semitism he should start asking the Mike Huckabee’s of the world about their supporters who they actually work with to get elected.
I think that breaking down Russert’s Wright/Farrakhan questioning helps illuminate how truly bizarre it is:
1. The title of Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” came from a sermon delivered by Jeremiah Wright. Wright is Obama’s pastor.
2. Wright is the “head” of United Trinity Church.
3. Wright said that Louis Farrakhan “epitomizes greatness.”
4. Wright went with Farrakhan in 1984 to visit Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
5. Farrakhan has said that Judaism is a “gutter religion.”
6. Wright said that when Obama’s political opponents found out about the Libya visit, Obama’s Jewish support would dry up “faster than a snowball in Hell.”
Russert’s question is then “What do you do to assure Jewish Americans… you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness.”
The first question about Farrakhan—and Russert’s insistence on mentioning Farrakhan’s views regarding Judaism after Obama had already denounced Farrakhan’s bigotry—was all foreplay leading up to this masterstroke in which Russert synthesizes the six discrete facts into a knockout punch of innuendo and guilt by association: perhaps Obama thinks that Louis Farrakhan, the man Obama explicitly denounced not one minute before, is the very epitome of greatness.
All of the stuff about going to Libya, Farrakhan’s “gutter religion” comment, and Jewish supporting drying up like a snowball in hell—that was all totally unnecessary to reach the ultimate question, but wasn’t it fun?