During the past few days, there has been a growing push from a number of blogs to get the Los Angeles Times to release a videotape of Barack Obama honoring Rashid Khalidi, the Mideast scholar, critic of Israel and alleged former mouthpiece of the PLO.
The tape, which contained footage of Obama and others bidding Khalidi farewell when he left Chicago for New York, had been referenced in an April article titled “Allies of Palestinians See a Friend in Obama,” and on it the Times reported, were the goings-on of an evening railing against Israel:
At Khalidi’s 2003 farewell party, for example, a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, “then you will never see a day of peace.”
One speaker likened “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been “blinded by ideology.”
Obama adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground. But his presence at such events, as he worked to build a political base in Chicago, has led some Palestinian leaders to believe that he might deal differently with the Middle East than either of his opponents for the White House.
Bloggers have wanted to see the tape, to know what else Obama said that evening and to what he sat idly by as others said. Was he silent when and if a pro-Palestinian voice, like Khalidi’s, attacked Israel?
“Barack Obama wouldn’t possibly let something like that pass without a spirited defense of the Israel he tells us he so staunchly supports … would he?” Andrew McCarthy asked in a column for NRO. “I guess to answer that question, we’d have to know what was on the tape.”
I considered blogging about this yesterday but I decided that the reason the tape hadn’t been released was likely because the Times had acquired it from a confidential source who didn’t want to be identified, and knew they would if the tape got out. Today, when John McCain’s campaign piled on and demanded the tape be released to the public, I was proven correct.
“The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it,” the Time’s editor, Russ Stanton, said in a statement. “The Times keeps its promises to sources.”
That may seem like a cop out, but it’s not. It’s a legally binding contract. And we know more information because it was entered into than we would if it hadn’t been. This story, indeed, is one the rest of the media missed, and for that the Times shouldn’t be given the same old song and dance.