'Uncovered' 2007 Obama Video Not That New After All

Fox News and other conservative media outlets claimed to have a scoop on Tuesday they called "Obama's other race speech." The tape that was supposed to turn this election around, however, was documented and reported on in 2007 by the very same news outlets.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Next, the story of a video circulated feverishly by conservative media. It features then-Senator Obama in 2007. The Obama campaign is dismissing the fuss over the video as a desperate move by Republicans.

But as NPR's David Folkenflik reports, some of Mr. Obama's critics are using the video to once again claim that he is racially divisive.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Boy, was the introduction of that video last night heavy with portent.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW")

SEAN HANNITY: On the eve of the first presidential debate, a bombshell is about to be dropped on the 2012 race for the White House.

FOLKENFLIK: Fox News's Sean Hannity promised viewers a high-impact boom on his show last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW")

HANNITY: Because tonight, you will hear from Barack Obama like you have never heard from him before. A video has been uncovered from a campaign event...

FOLKENFLIK: The video was highly promoted by a cadre of conservative forces from the Drudge Report to Hannity to The Daily Caller site. It arrives just a few weeks after a damaging tape of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney showed him speaking dismissively of 47 percent of Americans. In this case, then-Senator Obama was shown talking to a group of black pastors at Hampton University in Virginia in 2007. It was early in the Democratic presidential primaries. He warned of the despair that can take hold in pockets of persistent poverty.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: These quiet riots that take place every day are born from the same place as the fires and destruction and the police decked out in riot gear and deaths. They happen when a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates.

FOLKENFLIK: Mr. Obama also said the federal government responded to Hurricane Katrina on less generous terms than it had after previous catastrophes, seemingly suggesting a racial component to the federal response.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW")

TUCKER CARLSON: That is the theme of the speech from front to back, from beginning to end. They don't like you because of your skin color.

FOLKENFLIK: That's The Daily Caller's editor in chief, Tucker Carlson, on Sean Hannity's show last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW")

CARLSON: And that is a shockingly - that's a nasty thing to say. It's a divisive thing to say. It's a demagogic thing to say. And in the case of Katrina, it's an untrue thing to say.

FOLKENFLIK: Carlson called this Mr. Obama's other race speech, a counterpoint to the widely hailed March 2008 Philadelphia address in which he was compelled to renounce the incendiary beliefs of his former pastor and address the legacy of race in his own historic bid for the White House as an African-American.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity.

FOLKENFLIK: The thing is, Senator Obama's 2007 speech is not unknown. A significant number of major news outlets covered it, including Fox News. But Hannity and Carlson, among others, argue the mainstream media failed to report the most inflammatory language. So it's worth going to the way-back machine, all the way to June 2007, the week of that address.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED CNN BROADCAST)

WOLF BLITZER: ...in the African-American community, and he's invoking the memory of the deadly 1992 Los Angeles riots.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

FARAI CHIDEYA, BYLINE: ...campaign. But in front of a packed crowd of ministers, he said quiet riots are happening in our black communities, revealed by incidents including Hurricane Katrina and the 15-year-old Rodney King verdict.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED MSNBC BROADCAST)

CARLSON: Barack Obama was talking about a quiet riot today. And no, it was not a reference to a 1980s heavy metal band, unfortunately.

FOLKENFLIK: Those contemporaneous reports from CNN, NPR and MSNBC. That last voice actually belonging to Tucker Carlson from the MSNBC program he used to host. And there were others. Last night, Carlson told Hannity the media refused to show the full force of this very different Barack Obama talking to the black preachers.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW")

CARLSON: OK. This is not a dog whistle. This is a dog siren. He - these are appeals to racial solidarity.

FOLKENFLIK: The Obama campaign blamed the release of the video on what they called Romney's allies, but the Romney camp did not immediately seize upon it. Romney adviser Kevin Madden told CBS today that the campaign would hinge on the economy, saying those remarks were covered back in 2007. David Folkenflik, NPR News.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: