The JTA's Awkward Whitewash of the Obama-Farrakhan Photo

The media has maintained a solid embargo of the Obama-Farrakhan photo. The same press that thought it vital to inform the nation that a Neo-Nazi crank managed to run as a Republican because he was the only candidate (despite the party disavowing him) still won't report on a photo showing Obama with the leader of a racist and anti-Semitic hate group who praised Hitler.

Why? The answer's in an old Onion gag (from its last funny days). "Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle On Obama's Double-Homicide." 

More than a week after President Barack Obama's cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime.


"What exactly is the news hook here?" asked Rick Kaplan, executive producer of the CBS Evening News. "Is this an upbeat human-interest story about a 'day in the life' of a bloodthirsty president who likes to kill people? Or is it more of an examination of how Obama's unusual upbringing in Hawaii helped to shape the way he would one day viciously butcher two helpless citizens in their own home?"

"Or maybe the story is just that murder is cool now," Kaplan continued. "I don't know. There are a million different angles on this one."

So far, the president's double-homicide has not been covered by any major news outlets. The only two mentions of the heinous tragedy have been a 100-word blurb on the Associated Press wire and an obituary on page E7 of this week's edition of the Lake County Examiner.

It's funny because it's true. There's been almost zero media coverage of the Obama -Farrakhan photo. The few pieces that appeared were struggling to find an "angle" on it. (It goes without saying that there would be no desperate search for an angle if Trump had been caught posing with David Duke.)

The JTA, a formerly Jewish wire service that hates everything Jewish even as it's marketed to a Jewish audience, clumsily gropes for an "angle" on the photo. The clumsy groper is Ron Kampeas. If the JTA is going to run a rambling thinkpiece putting forward unacceptable ideas in the service of the left, it's gotta be Ron.

 Ron Kampeas tries to perform something resembling journalism, interviewing a source in the CBC and the photographer. He all but verifies that Farrakhan would have likely been an official CBC guest. But forced to choose between condemning Obama and whitewashing Farrakhan, he kills his soul and chooses the latter. 

A photo of then-Sen. Barack Obama at a meeting in 2005 with Louis Farrakhan, the virulently anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam, is roiling portions of the Jewish community.

"Portions". Other portions are okay with it.

Outrage about Farrakhan comes and goes,

Really? Are there times when a racist hate group leader who praised Hitler isn't outrageous? Does outrage also come and go about Neo-Nazi groups?

"Outrage about Farrakhan comes and goes, but when it does flare up, it plays out in familiar ways: Jews are revolted by those who would legitimize a demagogue who would refer to Judaism as a “gutter religion”; African-Americans resent being told with whom they can associate."

Outrage about Neo-Nazis comes and goes. And it plays out in familiar ways: Jews are revolted, but whites resent being told with whom they can associate.

Congratulations, JTA. This is what you just published.

I called Askia Muhammad, the journalist who took the photo and said he suppressed it at the request of a CBC staffer he has not identified. He named the CBC members he recalls as being at the event, none of whom is still in Congress. Aside from Obama, they are Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga.

So it's still being covered up. Why is the Nation of Islam protecting members of Congress? How hard will anyone try to get those names? Oh look, a squirrel. 

Ron Kampeas also doesn't bother asking Askia Muhammad if he's a member of the Nation of Islam, rather than just having worked for its paper.  

I’ve got calls into Obama, Rangel, the Nation of Islam and Wilson asking how Farrakhan came to be invited to the meeting. (Regarding Obama’s views on Farrakhan himself, a spokesman for Obama pointed out to Talking Points Memo that the former president has on multiple occasions condemned Farrakhan for his anti-Semitism.)

While meeting with him in private. When the private actions of politicians contradict their public statements, we call them liars and hypocrites. Except for Obama. 

It’s also unclear if the photo proves that Obama’s relationship with Farrakhan was cozier than previously acknowledged. Farrakhan may have gravitated to the emerging political star to say hello, Muhammad was in the right place and time, a snapshot ensues.

Farrakhan has said as much. Obama certainly knew who Farrakhan was. He chose to smile and pose with him. Hillary Clinton had to pull his teeth to condemn Farrakhan. And he repeatedly called the bigot, Minister Farrakhan.

But let's work harder to find that "angle".

And so the article concludes with...

Muhammad, when I spoke with him on Wednesday, said what many others before him have said: Farrakhan had said “stinging” things about Jews that are “hard to countenance.” But he also wondered why Jews continue to insist on demanding his repudiation.

Would it be all right, he asked me, for a black man to ask, “Why isn’t Jewish Voice for Peace the spokesperson for all the Jewish people? Why isn’t Medea Benjamin the spokesman for all the Jewish people? Why isn’t Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors?”

JVP supports the boycott Israel movement; Benjamin heads the anti-Israel group Code Pink; Finkelstein has accused the Jews of exploiting the Holocaust to defend Israel.

“How absurd is it that I designate the spokesman for all the Jewish people?” Muhammad said.

But Jewish leaders like Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, remain adamant.

“Over his career, @barackobama has denounced the bigotry of Farrakhan. Time to do so again,” he tweeted. “Leaders always should make sure that there’s no doubt: America is no place for those who advocate #antisemitism or hate.”

"Remain adamant".

What's considered a basic principle with anti-Semitic hate groups on the right is quite different when it comes to anti-Semitic hate groups on the left. Despite Muhammad's gibberish, the ADL remained "adamant" and asked Obama to denounce Farrakhan. (That doesn't address the conflict between his public and private behavior, but it makes Jewish liberals feel better about themselves).  

The basic standard for all politicians is that you will be judged by the people you associate with. But that's not the standard for the left. It's never been the standard for Obama. 

And so when Obama falls afoul of it, there's a desperate search for an "angle". Ron's angle (the familiar one) is that Jews have to shut up about Farrakhan's anti-Semitism. And stop trying to hold CBC members accountable for hanging out with him. It's the familiar response to black anti-Semitism. "Just shut up about it." We've been hearing that one for generations.

Hate and change.