I learned over the weekend why the Republicans who have seen the tape of Michelle Obama ranting about “whitey” describe it as “STUNNING.” I have not seen it but I have heard from five separate sources who have spoken directly with people who have seen the tape. It features Michelle Obama and Louis Farrakhan. They are sitting on a panel at Jeremiah Wright’s Church when Michelle makes her intemperate remarks. Whoops!! When that image comes out it will enter the politcal ads hall of fame. It will be right up there with the little girl plucking daisy petals in the famous 1964 ad LBJ used against Barry Goldwater.
Now, even Johnson comes to this supposed tape second hand and all of his supposed first hand sources are anonymous. In other words, this whole entire story is built on nothing more than rumor and innuendo. It is juicy and thus it is difficult to ignore. Yet, that's when journalists, even citizen journalists, must show the most restraint.
Instead, what we have seen is unholy alliance between the liberal Johnson and many conservative blogs. Conservative blog Redstate had an item on it. Rhiel World View also had an item. Stop the ACLU had an item as well. Several other smaller blogs followed suit as well. All of them carefully worded it and only presented rumor as rumor, but why present rumor at all.
Furthermore, many are linking to this video.
Now, in the video, it was a Fox News guest, not contributor, that spread the rumor, and it was challenged by Geraldo. So, gain, how does this advance the story? No one is on record as seeing the tape. If it is out there, there will be plenty of time to explore it. So why explore mere rumor now?
Rumors and innuendo are not journalism. Just because it is racy doesn't mean that journalists of any stripe should run with it. Furthermore, conservative bloggers are playing a duplicitous game. At the same time they question the sourcing of Johnson, they are perfectly happy to link to the story. By creating a blogging media firestorm, it lends more credence to the story naturally.
By pursuing this story so forcefully, what the right blogosphere does is marginalize itself. It becomes the outlet for filth and rumor, rather than legitimate debate. I don't know if there is a tape out there. If there is that is really bad news for Obama, however until there is I won't report on it. I will point out those that are willing to run with it though.