In WSJ op-ed, Kessler cropped Obama quotes commenting on Wright and Farrakhan

››› ››› KATHLEEN HENEHAN

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler truncated Sen. Barack Obama's response to a controversial statement by his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., about 9-11, repeating a statement from a New York Times interview in which Obama said "it sounds like [Wright] was trying to be provocative." But Kessler omitted Obama's statement, reported in the same article, disagreeing with Wright's 9-11 comments: "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification."

In a March 14 Wall Street Journal op-ed -- a revised version of his March 6 Newsmax.com column -- Newsmax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler truncated Sen. Barack Obama's response to a controversial statement that his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., made about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, writing: "As for Mr. Wright's repeated comments blaming America for the 9/11 attacks because of what Mr. Wright calls its racist and violent policies, Mr. Obama has said it sounds as if the minister was trying to be 'provocative.'" But Kessler -- who went on to assert that "Obama's close association with Mr. Wright ... raises legitimate questions about Mr. Obama's fundamental beliefs about his country," which "deserve a clearer answer than Mr. Obama has provided so far" -- ignored the fact that in the same April 2007 New York Times interview in which Obama said "it sounds like [Wright] was trying to be provocative" in making the remark about the 9-11 attacks, Obama also flatly disagreed with the statement, reportedly saying: "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification."

The New York Times reported on April 30, 2007:

On the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later he wrote that the attacks had proved that "people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just 'disappeared' as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns."

Provocative Assertions

Such statements involve "a certain deeply embedded anti-Americanism," said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative group that studies religious issues and public policy. "A lot of people are going to say to Mr. Obama, are these your views?"

Mr. Obama says they are not.

"The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification," he said in a recent interview. He was not at Trinity the day Mr. Wright delivered his remarks shortly after the attacks, Mr. Obama said, but "it sounds like he was trying to be provocative."

"Reverend Wright is a child of the 60s, and he often expresses himself in that language of concern with institutional racism and the struggles the African-American community has gone through," Mr. Obama said. "He analyzes public events in the context of race. I tend to look at them through the context of social justice and inequality."

From Kessler's March 14 Wall Street Journal op-ed:

Neither the presentation of the award nor the Trumpet article about the award mentions ex-offenders, and Mr. Wright's statements denouncing Israel have not been qualified in any way. Mr. Obama nonetheless told the Jewish leaders that the award to Mr. Farrakhan "showed a lack of sensitivity to the Jewish community." That is an understatement.

As for Mr. Wright's repeated comments blaming America for the 9/11 attacks because of what Mr. Wright calls its racist and violent policies, Mr. Obama has said it sounds as if the minister was trying to be "provocative."

Hearing Mr. Wright's venomous and paranoid denunciations of this country, the vast majority of Americans would walk out. Instead, Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle have presumably sat through numerous similar sermons by Mr. Wright.

Indeed, Mr. Obama has described Mr. Wright as his "sounding board" during the two decades he has known him. Mr. Obama has said he found religion through the minister in the 1980s. He joined the church in 1991 and walked down the aisle in a formal commitment of faith.

The title of Mr. Obama's bestseller "The Audacity of Hope" comes from one of Wright's sermons. Mr. Wright is one of the first people Mr. Obama thanked after his election to the Senate in 2004. Mr. Obama consulted Mr. Wright before deciding to run for president. He prayed privately with Mr. Wright before announcing his candidacy last year.

Mr. Obama obviously would not choose to belong to Mr. Wright's church and seek his advice unless he agreed with at least some of his views. In light of Mr. Wright's perspective, Michelle Obama's comment that she feels proud of America for the first time in her adult life makes perfect sense.

Much as most of us would appreciate the symbolism of a black man ascending to the presidency, what we have in Barack Obama is a politician whose closeness to Mr. Wright underscores his radical record.

The media have largely ignored Mr. Obama's close association with Mr. Wright. This raises legitimate questions about Mr. Obama's fundamental beliefs about his country. Those questions deserve a clearer answer than Mr. Obama has provided so far.

Network/Outlet
Wall Street Journal, NewsMax.com
Person
Ronald Kessler
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