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Roger L. Simon

Why Is the L.A. Times Burying the Obama/Khalidi Tape?

April 21st, 2010 - 6:36 pm

Interestingly, that sole Obama remark, as reported by Wallsten, contains an ellipsis in the middle. After the then-state senator says the Khalidis had given him “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases” comes a strategically placed dot-dot-dot. We don’t know what those blind spots and and biases were and what he might have thought of them. Or how he might have changed. That, in Wallsten’s or some Times editors’ judgement, was best left on the tape.

So what are we to think? We have an administration that not only ascribes most of the Middle East blame to Israel, but also has banned “Islamism” and all related words, even “Islam” and “jihad” from our national security documents. They’re completely gone. Indeed, even the Fort Hood massacre, so clearly inspired by Islamic extremism, has now been shifted into the comfortable category of the lone, angry killer. Rashid Khalidi should be happy. And, in fact, he is.

Sometimes I want to yell and scream. What is wrong with the Los Angeles Times? Are they a news organization or the propaganda wing of some leftover unit of the IWW? No wonder subscribers are deserting them in droves.

But I won’t yell and scream. I want to be polite. I have old friends at the Times. And what I seek is the release of the tape. Even if there is a legitimate promise to the source, the public interest now overwhelms this. Few stopped to criticize when the Pentagon Papers were published by the New York Times. And they were stolen from the Department of Defense. Let’s get this done. If the tape exonerates Obama, they should be anxious to publish it. If it doesn’t, the Times has done a public service. That’s their job.

But failing that, I turn to you, dear reader. What is to be done? We can’t send a FOIA request to the Los Angeles Times. They’re a private company — or owned by one. There must be other means.

One way is to go to the original reporter Mr. Wallsten. He now works for the Wall Street Journal. I have put in a call to him. We shall see how, or if, he replies. Another way is to find and contact the person who gave Wellsten the tape. Deborah Schlussel believes that person is Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada and Arab American Action Network, an organization founded by the Khalidis. I don’t know if that is true, although I can speculate on the motives.

Whatever the case, the time to reveal the tape is now. Please make your suggestions for what to do. It will be an interesting experiment in citizen journalism to try to do it together. And, unlike the current administration, to do it transparently.

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