The Los Angeles Times is feeling the pressure over its decision to refuse to release the controversial Rashid Khalidi video in which Barack Obama is shown toasting the former PLO operative at an Israel-bashing dinner. Even though the Times has acknowledged it has received thousands of phone calls and e-mails calling for the release of the video it is holding of that dinner, it has acted like a player hogging the football, waiting for the time to run out in the game as the final seconds count down. Although they have yet to report on a protest about their refusal to release the Khalidi tape held right outside their own building as you can see in this video, the Times included their reasons for refusing to make it public in a story about the demands by John McCain and Sarah Palin to release it (emphasis mine):
Editors at The Times and the reporter who wrote an article in April about Obama's connection to the Palestinian scholar, Rashid Khalidi, said they were ethically bound to abide by a promise to a confidential source not to share the video.
McCain's spokesman had raised the issue of the video a day earlier, saying it might confirm Obama's ties to "radicals" and show that, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, he condoned anti-Israel rhetoric at a party for Khalidi, a friend.
The Republicans increased the pressure Wednesday, when both McCain and his running mate took up the call for The Times to release the video.
Maybe some politicians would love to have a pet newspaper of their very own," Palin said at a rally in Bowling Green, Ohio. "In this case, we have a newspaper willing to throw aside even the public's right to know in order to protect a candidate that its own editorial board has endorsed. And if there's a Pulitzer Prize category for excelling in kowtowing, then the L.A. Times, you're winning."
McCain said in a pair of radio interviews in Miami that he believed the video would show William Ayers, the onetime Weather Underground radical who later came to know Obama, at the same 2003 party. "Now, why that should not be made public is beyond me," he said.
Inspired by commentators on the Internet and cable television, thousands of people e-mailed and phoned The Times to demand the release of the tape. Hundreds of others expressed support for the paper's decision.
Stand by for excuses from the Times as to why they can't release the Khalidi tape:
The controversy stems from an article by Times staff writer Peter Wallsten that the newspaper published on April 10, exploring Obama's relationships with Palestinian Americans and Jews in Chicago. The article explained how Obama had managed to be held in high esteem by both groups. It described a party in 2003 for Khalidi, a renowned scholar on the Palestinians who in the 1970s had acted as a spokesman for Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization.
Some participants at the event spoke sharply against Israel. One young woman accused the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of the Palestinians. Obama "adopted a different tone," according to the article, "and called for finding common ground."
Would it kill you, Los Angeles Times, to at least release a transcript of what was said on the video? That way we can find out everything said by Obama, not just this very brief excerpt. And now more excuses from the Times:
The reporter and his editors said they found it ironic to be criticized now for allegedly trying to protect Obama, noting that the story had drawn strong rebukes from Obama supporters. Commentators at two websites -- the Nation and Talking Points Memo -- charged that the newspaper had unfairly suggested that the Democrat could not have allies in both communities.
Wallsten said he had worked on and off for several weeks to gather information on Obama's relationships in the Palestinian American community, with sources speaking only on condition of anonymity, including one who had the video.
The reporter's editor said the paper would have preferred to be able to post the video on its website but could not get the source to agree.
So why not post the transcript of what is on the video? That way the Times can preserve its newly discovered ethical purity involving sacred agreements made with its sources. (Strange they didn't mention this very convenient source agreement at the start of this controversy.)
"If we had not reached this agreement, we would not have had access to this tape at all. Then no one would ever have known Obama attended this event and spoke at it," said the editor, Aaron Zitner. "We were pushing to say the most we could and to present the most we could to readers about what happened. And we did that."
Very suspicious. So are you suggesting that, in addition to agreeing to not releasing the Khalidi tape you can't report on what you see there in more detail? Will this become another newly discovered addendum when people demand you report in more detail what was actually said at that dinner? Most of the rest of the Times story is devoted to journalism ethics "experts" citing why the Times is ethically correct in not releasing the tape. Left unsaid is why the Los Angeles Times doesn't just release a transcript of what was said on the tape.
While we wait for the Times to come up with excuses as to why it can't release a transcript of the tape they are keeping under lock and key, here are some comments from their own readers as to why they aren't buying the Times' excuses:
I believe that the LA times should show the tape to the citizens of the United States of America. If there is nothing wrong said about Israel from Sen. Obama or Rashid Khalidi then why do you keep denying the public view of the tape. But I believe and probably every John McCain supporter believes that there is something wrongly said on that tape about Israel and if showed to the public. It would bring Obama to his knees because then it would be true that he supports 100% that he is a radical Islam supporter.
LA Times be true to the people of the United States of America and show the tape.
Is it possible that the only reason the information regarding the tape was disclosed back in April was to assist Hillary Clinton in the primaries? Now that Obama has the Democrat nomination, and the ultra-liberal LA Times has a "new horse in this race" it does not serve THEIR agenda to release a tape we, as the electorate and supposedly ultimate arbitors of who gets elected into office, has a right to view, in order to make an informed decision next Tuesday??
I used to be undecided but no more. The Times' intransigence about releasing this tape has convinced me that something there is decidedly unattractive to Obama captured there. I believe that security is job ONE for our president and between Mr. Biden and the Times, it does not look like Mr. O can rise to the challenge. I was going to sit this one out, but no more. I'm decided and I'm gonna vote!
If there was nothing damaging on that tape then Obama would want it released. The only answer is that Obama is covering something up. It may just be his inappropriate reaction to some negative comments from someone else, but it would give a view into his character. The tape should be released, but the Times is protecting their guy. If it was McCain, you know it would be leading each newscast and a front-cover story for them.