Many in the media are challenging Jerome Corsi's The Obama Nation, noting its numerous falsehoods and its author's track record. Their reaction stands in stark contrast to coverage of Corsi's 2004 book, Unfit for Command. The media were sharply criticized for taking too long to challenge that book's numerous smears and falsehoods.
While the recent anti-Obama book by Jerome Corsi, The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality (Threshold Editions), will debut atop the New York Times bestseller list, many in the media are challenging the book, noting its numerous falsehoods as well as its author's track record, which includes a slew of bigoted posts on the conservative website Free Republic and co-authorship of a discredited book attacking Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign. The media's reaction to The Obama Nation stands in stark contrast to coverage of that 2004 book, Unfit for Command. As Media Matters for America has noted, the media were sharply criticized for taking too long to challenge Unfit's numerous smears and falsehoods.
In an August 15 article in Editor & Publisher, Greg Mitchell noted the contrast in the media's reaction to the two books:
Four years ago this month, with E&P's Joe Strupp, I explored in a number of articles the belated or conflicted media response to the "swiftboating" of Sen. John Kerry, then the Democratic nominee for president. The mainstream press gave the charges-- carried in ads, in books and articles, and in major TV appearances -- a free ride for a spell, then a respectful airing mixed with critique, before in many cases finally attempting to shoot them down as overwhelmingly exaggerated or false. This delay, along with Kerry's own reluctance to face the matter squarely, quite possibly cost the Democrat the White House.
Now, this month, a bestselling anti-Obama book -- by a co-author of the most prominent "swiftboat" anti-Kerry book in 2004 -- has predictably been published (by Mary Matalin's imprint) and has gained immediate and wide attention in the mainstream. But this time, in many cases, the media response has been a "swift" kick to its credibility.
Below are numerous examples of the media responding with "a 'swift' kick" to The Obama Nation's credibility:
From an August 15 Washington Post column by Eugene Robinson:
The "author," and I use the term loosely, whose vicious lies damaged John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign has crawled back out from under his rock to spew vicious lies about Barack Obama. Right-wing radio talk-show hosts are dutifully transmitting this concocted venom. This presidential campaign has officially gotten ugly.
The "author" I'm talking about is a man named Jerome Corsi. In a book published last year, "The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada," Corsi claimed that George W. Bush was at the heart of a secret conspiracy to subsume the United States into a post-national, one-worldish North American Union. Corsi's writings on far-right blogs have been even more paranoid and delusional. He has written that pedophilia, for which he used a more graphic term, "is OK with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press." He has referred to Muslims as "ragheads."
Corsi would be known as just another visitor from the outer fringe if he had not been the co-author of "Unfit for Command," the book that slimed Kerry's exemplary record as a Swift boat commander in Vietnam. The allegations in that book were discredited, but not before they had been amplified by the right-wing echo chamber to the point where they raised questions in some voters' minds -- perhaps enough to swing the election.
From an August 13 Politico article by Kenneth P. Vogel:
The folks behind "The Obama Nation," the wildly successful but factually disputed new book trashing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, are casting it as a scholarly, thoroughly researched work.
But its author has left a trail of wild theories, vitriol and dogma that have called into question his credibility.
Jerome Corsi, who rose to prominence as the co-author of a book attacking 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, penned another tome asserting oil is a nearly infinite resource that continues to generate naturally, and posted a series of online comments through 2004, including suggestions that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a lesbian and Muslims worship Satan.
From the August 13 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
RACHEL MADDOW (guest host): You may remember Corsi for his sober allegations that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian, that John Kerry is both a Jew and a Communist, and his allegations that Muslims actually worship Satan. You may remember Jerome Corsi for his recent book attacking the liberal myth that oil is a finite resource, since he, Jerome Corsi, has learned how to make new oil. You may remember Corsi for his scholarly rebuke of George W. Bush's secret plan to merge the United States into Mexico.
OK, honestly, you probably don't remember Jerome Corsi at all, because why would you pay attention to someone with a record like that? But Corsi's new anti-Obama book will be number one on that bestseller list for at least two weeks running, despite fact checking by news organizations, including The New York Times, showing it to be rife with errors and inaccuracies.
And the Obama camp is now firing back, issuing a 40-page rebuttal titled "Unfit for Publication," soon appearing at Obama's Fight the Smears website. The campaign promising to forcefully respond with all means at their disposal. Nonetheless, the book is selling well, due, essentially, to hundreds of right wing talk show interviews, and large volume bulk sales to right-wing organizations, a tactic to be discussed now with my next guest.
From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the August 5 edition of MSNBC Live:
BREWER: You say it's a comprehensive look, and yet there are already online bloggers that are going through this book page by page and picking apart what they see as factual errors. Let me give you an example. You say in this book, "Interestingly, Obama did not dedicate Dreams from My Father to his mother or to his father, Barack Sr., or to his Indonesian stepfather," and Media Matters, the online organization, says in his book, he actually says on a -- on the last page of the introduction, "It is to my family, though, my mother, my grandparents, my siblings, stretched across oceans and continents that I owe the deepest gratitude and to whom I dedicated this book." So if they're going through, and they're finding all of these factual errors in your book, why should we give you the credibility?
CORSI: Let's discuss that one. If you'll read carefully what Media Matters said, they point out there is no dedication page even in the second edition.
BREWER: But it says right in the introduction that it's dedicated to his family.
CORSI: In the introduction that he wrote after, this was going with the second book. And the original book had no dedication page and this is not the typical way that you dedicate a book. So I'm making the distinction there is no dedication page in the book at all, never has been.
BREWER: Media Matters has some eight, nine, 10 pages of factual errors.
CORSI: And I'd be happy to go through each one of them with you.
BREWER: And we're not going to do that. But I'm saying, if they are finding one, then why do you get credibility for the book?
CORSI: Well, I've already objected to the one they found. I think Media Matters is wrong, and I would argue with every one of them.
From the August 13 edition of MSNBC's Verdict with Dan Abrams:
DAN ABRAMS (host): Yeah. I mean, look, you know, and again, among the accusations, Brad, debunked from this book -- drug use in the U.S. Senate, that he didn't dedicate his book to his family, he wanted to decrease the size of the military. I mean, the list goes on of the things that were debunked from this book.
From the August 13 edition of CNN's Larry King Live:
LARRY KING (host): Jerome, you write in your book that Senator Obama has, quote, "yet to answer whether he stopped using marijuana and cocaine completely in college or whether his drug usage extended to his law school days or beyond."
KING: But Obama wrote in his memoir Dreams from My Father -- which you repeatedly cite in your book -- that when he moved to New York in the early '80s, quote, "I stopped getting high. I ran three miles a day and I fasted on Sunday." So are you saying he's lying?
CORSI: What I'm saying in the book is that people who admit that they've used drugs -- and Obama -- Obama said he used drugs through Occidental. And it was a lot of drugs. He said it was -- it had become virtually habitual with marijuana and cocaine. My argument is that the self-reporting of people who use drugs as to when they quit is not reliable. That's the argument I was making.
From an August 15 post to Commentary magazine's Contentions blog by Peter Wehner, titled "The Obama Smears":
As for the book: it seems to be riddled with factual errors-some relatively minor (like asserting that Obama does not mention the birth of his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, in Dreams from My Father; Obama does mention her), and some significant (suggesting that Obama favors withdrawing troops from Afghanistan; he wants to do the opposite). But more problematic, I think, is Corsi's claim that Obama has "extensive connections to Islam" and his suggestion that Obama is a recent drug user. Those claims are, from everything I can tell, unsubstantiated. (When challenged to produce the evidence, Corsi counters with the "prove you're not beating your wife" defense.)
For example, Obama, who in his book admitted using drugs in his youth, says he hasn't used any since he was 20 years old. Corsi, in an interview, said Obama's words can't be trusted because "self-reporting, by people who have used drugs, as to when they stopped is inherently unreliable." And Corsi's effort to tie Obama to the Muslim faith-claims based on questionable sources, reaching back to Obama's youth in Indonesia-is especially troubling, since the subtext here is attaching Obama to militant Islam and suggesting that he's somehow alien to America and its values (when in fact his candidacy is a confirmation of the viability of those values).
Corsi's approach to politics is both destructive and self-destructive. If Senator Obama loses, he should lose on the merits: his record in public life and his political philosophy. And while it's legitimate to take into account Obama's past associations with people like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright-especially for someone like Obama, about whom relatively little is known-it wrong and reckless to throw out unsubstantiated charges and smears against Senator Obama.
Conservatism has been an intellectual home to people like Burke and Buckley. The GOP is the party that gave us Lincoln and Reagan. It seems to me that its leaders ought to make it clear that they find what Dr. Corsi is doing to be both wrong and repellent. To have their movement and their party associated with such a figure would be a terrible thing and it will only help the cause of those who hold both the GOP and the conservative movement in contempt.
From an August 12 Los Angeles Times article by Kate Linthicum:
Right-wing author Jerome Corsi hit it big in 2004 with a book attacking John F. Kerry.
"Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry" soared to No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Now Corsi has done it again -- taking aim at a different Democratic presidential candidate.
Corsi's latest, "The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality," will top the Aug. 17 New York Times hard-cover nonfiction bestseller list.
The book lashes out at Barack Obama and alleges, among other things, that the politician has a secret radical Islamic agenda.
But being No. 1 doesn't necessarily mean being accurate. Obama is a Christian.
From the August 13 edition of CNN's Election Center:
CAMPBELL BROWN (host): There's a new book out about Barack Obama. It's number one right now on The New York Times bestseller list. I can guarantee you, though, nobody in the Obama camp is happy at all -- at all happy about that. And here's why.
It is called Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality. The author, Jerome Corsi, also co-wrote the book Unfit for Command, which started the Swift Boating of John Kerry. Obama Nation is riddled with pretty much every unsubstantiated rumor you ever heard about Obama. Jessica Yellin found out for us that it's also turning into a major campaign headache. And, Jessica, I know -- we know that some of the most damaging charges in this book just aren't true. The author admits he's on a mission to take down Barack Obama. He's been slammed for books that he's written before. They're also discredited. But it's still getting an awful lot of traction.
From the August 13 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
JESSICA YELLIN (CNN Capitol Hill correspondent): To prove his point, Corsi says the book is meticulously researched and fact-checked. But when we checked his facts, we found he's wrong on many points. Here are a few. The book claims Obama didn't dedicate his first book, Dreams from My Father, to his family members. He did. He dedicated it to his mother, his grandmother, and his siblings. Corsi cites a report saying Obama was in church when Reverend Jeremiah Wright made comments about race on July 22. But Obama was out of state, a full time zone away. And Corsi writes Obama has yet to answer questions about whether he ever stopped using drugs. But in his first book, Obama said he stopped getting high during college.
From an August 12 New York Times article by Jim Rutenberg and Julie Bosman:
In the summer of 2004 the conservative gadfly Jerome R. Corsi shot to the top of the best-seller lists as co-author of "Unfit for Command," the book attacking Senator John Kerry's record on a Vietnam War Swift boat that began the larger damaging campaign against Mr. Kerry's war credentials as he sought the presidency.
Almost exactly four years after that campaign began, Mr. Corsi has released a new attack book painting Senator Barack Obama, the Democrats' presumed presidential nominee, as a stealth radical liberal who has tried to cover up "extensive connections to Islam" -- Mr. Obama is Christian -- and questioning whether his admitted experimentation with drugs in high school and college ever ceased.
Significant parts of the book, whose subtitle is "Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality," have already been challenged as misleading or false in the days since its debut on Aug. 1. Nonetheless, it is to make its first appearance on The New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction hardcovers this Sunday -- at No. 1.
Several of the book's accusations, in fact, are unsubstantiated, misleading or inaccurate.
From the August 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
ALAN COLMES (co-host): The substance of the book --
COLMES: -- we have already seen in the book. He was wrong about a sermon that Barack Obama attended. He got the date wrong. He was wrong about the dedication in the book. He was wrong about Obama saying that he stopped using drugs. He was not truthful about that. He was wrong about a number of things in the book --
HUGH HEWITT (syndicated radio host): Actually, stop there, Alan. That's not true --
COLMES: -- there have been a number of things in the book that have been discredited.
From an August 14 Washington Post article by Eli Saslow:
Corsi's "The Obama Nation" lacks major revelations and has been dismissed by Obama's campaign as a series of lies from a serial liar. Parts of the book have also been disproved by the mainstream media. In 2004, Corsi co-wrote "Unfit for Command," in which Swift boat veterans criticized Sen. John F. Kerry's Vietnam War record. That book was also widely disproved.
From an August 15 Washington Post editorial:
Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, given his earlier hit job on the last Democratic nominee, Mr. Corsi's latest is rife with inaccuracies and innuendo. If the fundamental smear of "Unfit for Command" was that John F. Kerry was no war hero, the insinuation of Mr. Corsi's latest is that Mr. Obama is a closet Muslim and militant, black activist drug-user.
He gets facts wrong, from the date of Mr. Obama's marriage to whether he dedicated his autobiography to his family (he did) to whether he revealed that he took his future wife on his second trip to Kenya (he did.) He makes offensive statements: "The sexual attraction of his mother to her African husband jumps out from the page."
When facts are lacking, Mr. Corsi makes his point by suggestive questions. Noting that Life magazine could find no record of an article that Mr. Obama remembered reading as a child about a black man who tried to lighten his skin, Mr. Corsi asks, "How much more imagining, hypothetical lying, or just plain lying is Obama capable of doing?" When facts are present, he twists them to make Mr. Obama bad.
From an August 14 Associated Press article by Nedra Pickler:
Jerome Corsi's anti-Obama book, "The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality," claims the Illinois senator is a dangerous, radical candidate for president. The book is a compilation of all the innuendo and false rumors against Obama -- that he was raised a Muslim, attended a radical, black church and secretly has a "black rage" hidden beneath the surface.
In fact, Obama is a Christian who attended Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
Corsi suggests, without a shred of proof, that Obama may be using drugs today. Obama has acknowledged using marijuana and cocaine as a teenager but says he quit when he went to college and hasn't used drugs since.
Corsi makes an issue of the fact that, before he quit smoking cigarettes, Obama didn't want it widely known that he smoked. "If Obama takes pains to hide his smoking from us, what else does he take pains to hide?" Corsi asks in the book.
Corsi also dwells on Obama's mother marrying Obama's African father and later marrying someone from Indonesia -- whom Corsi describes as "a second man of color to be her mate." The Obama campaign says the description is one of many examples of Corsi's "offensive language" in the book.
He claims Obama received extensive Islamic religious education as a boy in Indonesia, education that was only offered to the truly faithful. Actually, Obama is a Christian and as a boy he attended both Catholic school and Indonesian public schools where some basic study of the Koran was offered.
He accuses Obama of wanting to weaken the military even though Obama's campaign calls for adding 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.
From an August 13 post by Joe Klein on Time magazine's Swampland blog:
I heard about Jerome Corsi's book a few weeks ago from my mother, who said that her great fear--that Barack Obama has covert Islamic associations--had been confirmed by a new book. I told her not to worry, that many reputable people had looked into the matter and Obama was more likely to be spotted in Whole Foods than praying in a mosque. (Since my mother has never been to Whole Foods, so she didn't quite get my wry allusion.) "I hope so," she said, dubiously.
So we know the market for trash is there, and not so far from home. And we know, that Mary Matalin, who appears regularly on mainstream media programs like Meet the Press called the Corsi book in the New York Times today:
"a piece of scholarship, and a good one at that."
But hey, Mary stands to make big bucks off this scholarship, which I'm sure was submitted for peer review and otherwise held to the highest editorial standards--and I'm sure her reputation and mediagenicity won't be damaged by this poisonous crap, and we're all friends here, aren't we? And, yknow, they say politics ain't beanbag...and it's all in the game to tell innocent, well-intentioned people that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim or that John Kerry wasn't really a hero in Vietnam. Or, as George W. Bush, once told a rightly outraged John McCain--whose wife and daughter Bush's minions had smeared--"It's just politics."
An August 13 post on Jonathan Martin's blog at Politico.com:
The power of Fox News and talk radio: Jerome Corsi's The Obama Nation "is to make its first appearance on The New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction hardcovers this Sunday -- at No. 1.," according to a front-page story by Jim Rutenberg and Julie Bosman in the Times today that will only help sell more books.
As Rutenberg and Bosman note, the book has its share of errors.
But Corsi delved into the drug-and-Muslim fever swamps, which, regardless of accuracy, is what many on the right want to believe about Obama.
The best part of the piece, though, is this: "He said he was planning to aid several conservative groups that intend to run advertisements against Mr. Obama this fall, though he would not name them."
A third-party anti-Obama effort still may form, but methinks there is a reason here why Corsi "would not name them."