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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What’s old and new in Obama’s tape

...while contemporaneous coverage noted Obama’s claim that the Bush administration was ignoring the victims of Hurricane Katrina, it did not include Obama’s assertion that it was doing so because it didn’t care about them as much as the victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Andrew and the reporting didn’t include some quotes from Obama that suggested race was a reason why the federal response was inadequate.

In those remarks, Obama noted that the federal government waived the Stafford Act (requiring local government to give a 10-percent match for federal relief funding) after those two national disasters, but did not do so for victims in New Orleans.

“What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?

Makes no sense,” Obama said. “Tells me the bullet hasn’t been taken out. Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much.”

On Fox News last night, Tucker Carlson, the editor of the Daily Caller and the one credited with uncovering the video, accused Obama of “whipping up race hatred and fear” and advocating an us-vs.-them mentality. In addition to juxtaposing Hurricane Katrina victims against others, Obama also juxtaposed “our neighborhoods” with “the suburbs,” implying, Carlson wrote on The Daily Caller, that the suburbs were where “rich white people live.”

If anything, the true revelatory thrust of the footage Hannity and Carlson aired last night was the rhetoric Obama used, and his tone. Playing the footage side-by-side with Obama’s famous race speech, in which he addresses the Rev. Wright controversy, Hannity claimed not to know which of the two men was the real Obama.

Carlson called the presidential candidates appeal to an us-vs.-them mentality, including the remarks about “suburbs” and 9/11 victims, “racial rhetoric designed to make people fearful.” Carlson also called Obama’s remarks not a dog-whistle but a dog-siren that would never be tolerated had they been made by a white politician about black people.

“This is the opposite of what a uniter does, this is what a demagoguer does, and it’s wrong,” said Carlson.

Aside from the clip that Hume and others aired in 2007, these characterizations of Obama’s tone and rhetoric were not included in the 2007 reports, including Carlson’s report as then-host of his own show on MSNBC.

“The senator waded into the controversial waters of race during a speech Hampton University in Virginia,” Carlson reported five years ago. “He said the Bush administration has done little to quell a brewing storm among some black Americans. He compared the current tension to what fueled the L.A. riots in the wake of the Rodney King verdict.”

In last night’s Fox News segment, Carlson said Obama’s divisive remarks had been ignored by the mainstream media in 2007.

“This hasn’t been reported,” he said. “I know because I reported it the first time.”


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