The Corner

Palin/Obama Paper Trails and Media Hypocrisy

The deafening roar of nothingness emerging from the Sarah Palin email trove points up the media’s hypocritical lack of interest in Barack Obama’s pre-presidential record.

Just as Palin’s emails were released, Slate’s David Weigel pointed out that Barack Obama’s State Senate records are not available. Weigel quotes Obama’s statement to the effect that he didn’t have the staff or financial resources to preserve office paperwork. As a result, Obama claims, his State Senate records may have been thrown out.

In fact, Obama could easily have preserved his State Senate records had he wanted to. The papers of many Illinois legislators are preserved at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. I know, because I went through many a box there. The records are in various states of completeness and (dis)organization. Often, chaotic boxes of papers have been handed over to the archivists with little effort at cataloguing. Nonetheless, many records from state legislative offices are preserved.

Some of the most interesting revelations in Radical-in-Chief emerge from Jeremiah Wright’s correspondence with Howard Brookins, an Illinois State Senator who was a member of Rev. Wright’s congregation around the time Wright and Obama first connected. I found the Wright-Brookins correspondence in Brookins’ archived records at the Abraham Lincoln Library. If Brookins could preserve his records there, Obama could have preserved his as well.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made this point in 2008, saying “Our investigation suggests Senator Obama could have had his records archived so that they are available to the public, but, to this day, he does not want a complete paper trail of his time in the Illinois State Senate. Where are his office records?”

Radical-in-Chief is filled with revelations about Obama’s past dug out of archived records. Yet none of the mainstream outlets frantically searching through Palin’s emails has reported on these revelations, much less disputed my account of their significance.

The revelations in Radical-in-Chief include a reconstruction of socialist conferences Obama himself admits attending in the mid-1980′s; heretofore unknown documents from Obama’s initial stint as a community organizer in Chicago; documents closely tying Obama to a hard-left community organizer training institute; documents detailing Obama’s ties to ACORN and the ACORN-controlled New Party–and revealing his public account of those ties to be false; documents shedding new light on Obama’s foundation work and his sustained political alliances with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright; documents shedding light on Obama’s endorsement by the Democratic Socialists of America in 1996, and much more.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed Obama’s desire to hide his record, as well as the reluctance of mainstream outlets to investigate such sources as do exist. Obama fan and sympathetic Obama biographer Sasha Abramsky writes:

Much of the media, including his biographers, have concluded that the community organizing period of Obama’s life should be accorded relatively little space, assuming those years simply reflected the radical foibles of a young man trying to find himself.

Abramsky goes on to argue, in opposition to the media’s implicit judgement, that Obama’s community organizing years were actually the key to who he became. I agree. Yet the media continues to ignore important documentary revelations from a sitting president’s political past, while devoting enormous attention to the emails of an unsuccessful candidate for the vice-presidency.

Isn’t it obvious that the media’s lack of interest in Obama’s radical past–noticed even by a supporter like Abramsky–is a simple case of political protection, not to mention journalistic abdication?

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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