During the September 21 "Post Politics Hour" discussion on washingtonpost.com, a reader asked Washington Post congressional correspondent Jonathan Weisman what "could really shake up either of the presidential primary races between now and January," adding: "I'm not talking about Osama [bin Laden] blowing up the Sears Tower or 1,000 GIs being killed in Iraq next month but regularly scheduled events or ... things within the campaigns' control." Weisman began his response by stating: "How about [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] blowing up the Sears Tower! I never liked that building anyway. (Just kidding, folks.)."
Another reader later brought up Weisman's Obama reference, writing: "Um, did you really just joke about Obama blowing up the Sears Tower, or were you thinking Osama, but wrote Obama? Either way, not funny." Weisman responded: "I apologize."
From washingtonpost.com's September 21 online chat:
Chicago: Thanks for taking questions. What do you see at the event(s) that could really shake up either of the presidential primary races between now and January? I'm not talking about Osama blowing up the Sears Tower or 1,000 GIs being killed in Iraq next month but regularly scheduled events or debates, or the beginning of the millions in TV ads, things within the campaigns' control.
Jonathan Weisman: How about Obama blowing up the Sears Tower! I never liked that building anyway. (Just kidding, folks.) I really don't see what is going to shake up up the Democratic primary. It seems like Hillary Clinton has a very distinct group of followers, especially working class, middle-class women, and Obama continues to run well with the elite. But there just aren't enough elite out there. Of course, if Obama can pull off a win in the Iowa caucuses, all bets are off.
The Republican field is much more up for grabs. I think Iraq will play big on McCain's fate and we're still waiting to see if Fred Thompson can make good on all that hope that was placed in him.
Re: Obama: Um, did you really just joke about Obama blowing up the Sears Tower, or were you thinking Osama, but wrote Obama? Either way, not funny.
Jonathan Weisman: I apologize.
Weisman is not the first media figure to associate Obama with terrorists or controversial figures in the Middle East. As Media Matters for America has documented, on the December 11, 2006, edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN senior political analyst Jeff Greenfield said: "Now, it is one thing to have a last name that sounds like Osama and a middle name, Hussein, that is probably less than helpful." The following day, Greenfield explained on the CNN website that he was making "a joke" when, during the same segment, he compared the similarity of Obama's "business casual" clothing to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "jacket-and-no-tie look," but Greenfield did not mention his "Hussein" comment. As Media Matters also noted, CNN correspondent Jeanne Moos asked on December 11, 2006: "As if that similarity [between "Obama" and "Osama"] weren't enough, how about sharing the name of a former dictator? You know his middle name, Hussein."
Most recently, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh said that bin Laden and Obama are "on the same page" and misrepresented Obama's comments about Pakistan. He also posted the following on his website: