Now they tell us. More than a year after President Obama left office, a journalist is finally revealing a photograph he deliberately hid from the American public for well over a decade, for the explicit purpose of shielding Obama from political backlash. Talking Points Memo has the details, including the story of a 'panicked' phone call placed by a Congressional Black Caucus representative, who was desperate to prevent the photo from going public:
A journalist announced last week that he will publish a photograph of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D) and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan that he took in 2005 at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting, but did not make public because he believed it would have “made a difference” to Obama’s political future. The photographer, Askia Muhammad, told the Trice Edney News Wire that he “gave the picture up at the time and basically swore secrecy.” “But after the nomination was secured and all the way up until the inauguration; then for eight years after he was President, it was kept under cover,” Muhammad said. Asked whether he thought the photo’s release would have affected Obama’s presidential campaign, Muhammad said, “I insist. It absolutely would have made a difference.” Reached by TPM on Thursday, Muhammad said a “staff member” for the CBC contacted him “sort of in a panic” after he took the photo at a caucus meeting in 2005.
Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was dogged by criticism of his radical associations -- ranging from a crackpot anti-American preacher whose church Obama attended for decades, to an unrepentant domestic terrorist at whose home Obama launched his political career, to a convicted felon and slum lord with whom Obama engaged in shady business dealings, to a longtime spokesman for the PLO terrorist Yassir Arafat (a video tape of Obama and Rashid Khalidi together at a party was suppressed by the Los Angeles Times, and has never been released). A picture of Obama smiling widely alongside avowed racist and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan would have been yet another major headache for his campaign, and very well could have hampered Obama's trajectory toward his once-improbable primary upset over Hillary Clinton. It may have caused agita among more general election voters who were contemplating whether to entrust their vote to an unknown political newcomer. So the picture never saw the light of day. More specifics from TPM:
Muhammad said he gave away “the disk” from his camera but “copied the photograph from that day onto a file” on his computer. “Realizing that I had given it up, I mean, it was sort of like a promise to keep the photograph secret,” Muhammad said...Muhammad said he thought the photograph would be “damaging politically” if it were released and was afraid that someone might “break into his apartment” looking for it, like “that Watergate crap.” He said he “felt a little bit more at ease” after Farrakhan in 2016 claimed that Obama visited his home in Chicago...Muhammad also told TPM that around the time he took the photo, he asked Obama about a perceived resemblance to Farrakhan. “I asked the senator, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you resemble Minister Farrakhan?'” Muhammad said. “And he said what I thought was the perfect answer: ‘Well, he’s much better looking than I am.'”
Based on this account, Obama didn't merely pose for a photograph with a prominent figure known for routinely spewing racial poison, he kissed up to the guy by flattering his looks. None of this "proves" that Obama himself shares any of Farrakhan's odious views (I doubt he does), but it once again demonstrates that Obama's moral compass was virtually always pointed in the direction of his guiding North Star: Fulfilling his prodigious personal ambition, no matter what it took. The TPM story concludes with a recollection of Obama publicly objecting to Farrakhan's racial bigotry and anti-Semitism when pressed, but declining to fully reject the infamous hate-monger's positive comments about...Barack Obama: "I did not solicit his support," Obama said, referring to Farrakhan’s praise for his candidacy. '[But] I can’t say to somebody that he can’t say that he thinks I’m a good guy."
This reminded me of Donald Trump's game of footsie with another grotesque bigot, David Duke. It took Trump far too long to unequivocally disavow Duke and the KKK (he eventually did), leading to intense media criticism, including from yours truly. Many of Trump's defenders and critics alike recognized this kerfuffle as an outgrowth of the then-candidate's pathological need for affirmation, and his aversion to harshly criticizing anyone who feeds his ego. It seems that on some level, the current president and his immediate predecessor share that same impulse. A juxtaposition:
Trump was roundly (& rightly) condemned in the press for dancing around his disavowal of virulent racist & anti-Semite David Duke.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 25, 2018
A journalist deliberately withheld a photo of Obama grinning w/ virulent racist & anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, explicitly to protect Obama’s career.
Can you imagine the reaction if it emerged that Trump had met privately with Duke and praised him as a handsome man as they posed for photos, all smiles? And that the House Freedom Caucus pressured a photographer to never allow his documentation to become public? I think you can. And just so we're clear, Duke and Farrakhan are two sides of the same vile coin:
For over 30 years, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), has marked himself as a notable figure on the extremist scene, verbally attacking Jews, white people and the LGBT community. In recent years, Farrakhan has embarked on a wide-ranging campaign specifically targeting the Jewish community, which has featured some of the most hateful speeches of Farrakhan’s career as head of the NOI...Farrakhan used his platform to discuss the supposed role of Israel and Jews in orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, claiming that “Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks” and that Jews were warned ahead of time not to come to work that day. He then went on to speak more broadly of Israeli control of the American government, stating that Israel and Jews “don’t fear America because they control it from within.”...Farrakhan received a standing ovation after telling his audience that “the Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody, if they are your enemy, then you must be somebody.”
He's also hurled venom at white people -- calling them the "race of devils," the "anti-Christ, and "worthy to be hated" -- as well as the LGBT community. He is the moral equivalent of Duke, to whom Trump was linked because of Duke's praise of his candidacy, and Trump's opaque and dishonest responses to resulting challenges from reporters. By contrast, Obama said he opposed Farrakhan's spasms of hateful ideology, but hey, who was he to tell the guy to stop saying nice things about him? That, evidently, was an acceptable answer, and the issue disappeared. Beyond that, when the two men met in private, posing for a chummy photograph amid reported mutually-glowing banter, evidence of the occasion was confiscated and kept in the shadows for a dozen years. Extraordinary.
It's simply a fact that Barack Obama spent much of his early adulthood and fledgling political career marinating in a fever swap of far-left radicalism. Some evidence to that effect was intentionally censored by sympathetic journalists and media organizations, while other public revelations were drowned out by righteous shouting about the injustice of "guilt by association" attacks. If you thought Trump's episode vis-a-vis the Duke endorsement was problematic, as I did, surely Obama's deeper connection to Louis Farrakhan should be considered both appalling and revealing, no? If the former was disqualifying, so was the latter. Or am I missing something? Obama met, took a photo with, and praised Farrakhan as a sitting Senator, just a few years prior to launching a presidential bid. Multiple people were aware of this encounter (how was it okay for the Congressional Black Caucus to have feted such a figure in the first place, incidentally?), and took active steps to cover it up. Voters never learned of it, by design. Amazing. And now they tell us.