Barack Obama: Bigger and Blacker Than Ever!

I suppose I have to say something about the nastiness that emanated from conservative media yesterday about a previously chewed-over speech then-senator Barack Obama made in Virginia in 2007. The Daily Caller and Buzzfeed are arguing over who gets the “scoop” for unearthing a full video of the event, which Drudge hyped all day as some sort of “bombshell.” TPM’s Benjy Sarlin has the basics on this “story:”

Sean Hannity, The Daily Caller, and Drudge Report spent hours hyping a racially explosive secret video of President Obama. But the bombshell clip turned out to be a public speech from June 2007 that was covered by the major networks, including FOX News, at the time.

Excerpts of the open press speech to historically black Hampton University were already easily available (and quickly discovered by reporters after Drudge teased the clip on his website hours before the “new” Daily Caller/Hannity clip even aired). But Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson claimed the video was relevant because it contained additional ad-libbed portions that went off the prepared remarks.

Among the sinister revelations Drudge, Hannity, and Carlson cited: Obama’s use of what they considered an overly African-American cadence to his voice in front of the majority. “This accent is absurd. This is not the way Obama talks,” Carlson said on FOX. Drudge Report teased “THE ACCENT” and “THE ANGER” as scoops.

Hannity, who was a leading figure on the right in promoting Obama’s relationship with Jeremiah Wright as a story in 2008, also pointed to Obama acknowledging Wright as “friend and great leader” at the event. As was widely reported at the time, the two were close until Obama disowned him later that year over his continued inflammatory comments.

So what we seem to have here is a combination of (a) an effort to produce a “secret video” featuring Obama to cancel out the continuing baleful impact of Romney’s “Boca Moment,” and (b) an excuse to get another image of the Scary Black Man with his Scary Black Preacher into the campaign narrative, despite the absence of any new examples to cite.

Some conservative gabbers are also professing themselves aggrieved at Obama’s suggestion that African-Americans were unhappy about the exceptionally slow response of the Bush administration to conditions in post-Katrina Louisiana. Others probably understand Katrina is not something conservatives should be reminding voters of at this or any other juncture.

In any event, in the broad sweep of anti-Obama hysteria, yesterday’s brouhaha was like the release of a new porn video in the middle of a porn convention: a small cheap thrill for those afflicted with a taste for this kind of stuff, and just another reminder of the inevitable downside of freedom of speech for the rest of us.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.