Bill Steigerwald

So, asked Washington Post star political reporter Dana Milbank, are you saying Barack Obama "is a communist"?

Milbank was -- by default -- the most charismatic member of the mainstream media in attendance at America’s Survival, Inc.’s provocative press conference on May 22 in Washington, D.C.

But he had not come to the basement of Ebenezer Coffee House to report fairly on the right-wing group’s media event. He came to mock it.

Milbank had no intention of cooperating with America’s Survival, Inc.’s attempt to goad Big Media into investigating the hard-core leftists who mentored and/or influenced Sen. Obama when he was a teenager and later when he was a community organizer in Chicago.

America’s Survival, Inc., a conservative organization whose usual mission is doing battle with the United Nations, has not been shy about publicizing what it’s dug up about Obama’s early ideological inspirations.

For months the group’s president, Cliff Kincaid, has been writing about the close relationship the teenage Obama had in the 1970s with an elderly black man Obama refers to in his 1995 biography “Dreams From My Father” only as “a poet named Frank.”

“Frank,” as Kincaid reports at, was actually Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987), an important black poet, journalist and left-wing political and labor movement activist who was investigated in the early 1950s for his membership in the Communist Party USA.

Kincaid conducted the press conference with Herbert Romerstein, a veteran investigator who used to work with the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Kincaid and Romerstein insist they have no political agenda. They say they've merely done the preliminary digging and found lots of unconnected dots and interesting facts. Some are sinister, some innocent, some coincidental, some arguably irrelevant.

Now, they say, it’s up to Big Media to look into Obama's relationships with Davis in Hawaii and with folks like 1960s radical leftist William Ayers in Chicago -- and then ask Obama what lovely ideas he picked up from them and whether he has repudiated them.

Which brings us back to Milbank’s question -- are you guys saying Obama is a communist?

“No,” Romerstein scolded Milbank. “We’re telling you that you’re not doing your job. … We said that you have to do due diligence in tracking down what Obama really is, because right now he’s a stealth candidate. So if you don’t do your job, that’s your problem.”

Whoops. Shaming Big Media is no way to win its bleeding heart.

“Herb, you just got us a bad story in the Washington Post,” Kincaid said, laughing heartily before reiterating that his group is not making conclusions but is appealing to Big Media’s somnolent conscience.

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..