When President Barack Obama publicly endorsed the Palestinian view of Israel's future this week, he took many Americans, including many of his Jewish-American supporters, by surprise. Had the media been doing their job, he would not have surprised anyone.
In April 2008, Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times wrote a lengthy article titled "Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama." The article pulled some of its information from a video shot at a 2003 farewell dinner for Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian booster and a de facto spokesman for the PLO during his Beirut years. Khalidi, who had spent several years at the University of Chicago, was leaving for New York.
Domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn reportedly attended the dinner as well. This would make sense. Khalidi begins the acknowledgment section of his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, with a tribute to the guy who lived -- and edited -- in their neighborhood. "First, chronologically and in other ways," writes Khalidi, "comes Bill Ayers." Unlike the calculating Obama, Khalidi had no reason to be coy about this relationship.
At the dinner, Obama thanked Khalidi and his wife for the many meals they had shared chez Khalidi and for reminding Obama of "my own blind spots and my own biases." Obama hoped that "we continue that conversation -- a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid's dinner table [...] [but around] this entire world."
Wallsten acknowledged that during this "celebration of Palestinian culture," some of the guests made hostile comments about Israel. One recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism with the implicit threat that Israel "will never see a day of peace." Another compared "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden. If worse had been said, or if Obama had applauded these comments, the world beyond the LA Times newsroom would not be allowed to know.
The Times, which endorsed Obama for president, steadfastly refused to share the videotape despite the demand by the McCain camp and others to release it. This was, of course, one of many clues to Obama's character that the media either suppressed or refused to seek.
"A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi," said McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb.
Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan blew Goldfarb off. "As far as we're concerned, the story speaks for itself," she responded. The Times would add no details beyond what had appeared in Wallsten's April article. Obama, after all, had many affluent Jewish supporters in the Los Angeles area. Why worry them with a little anti-Israel rabble-rousing?