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Sunday, November 2, 2008
Timmerman's Claim of Obama-Farrakhan Link Lacks Substance
Topic: Newsmax

In a last-ditch effort to smear Barack Obama, a Nov. 1 Newsmax article by Kenneth Timmerman asserts that "Barack Obama’s ties to the black nationalist movement in Chicago run deep, and that Obama and Louis Farrakhan "for many years ... have had 'an open line between them' to discuss policy and strategy." But Timmerman's source for the claim is someone who does not have firsthand knowledge of such an alleged relationship.

Timmerman cited "Dr. Vibert White Jr., who spent most of his adult life as a member and ultimately top officer of the Nation of Islam," as the source of his claims. But Timmerman also goes on to note that "White broke with the group in 1995 and is now a professor of African-American history at the University of Central Florida in Orlando." Since White hasn't been involved in the Nation of Islam in 13 years, he can only speculate as to the relationship between Obama and Farrahkan.

Indeed, Timmerman's quoting of White offers no evidence of a current, "deep" relationship, contradicting what Timmerman wrote in his lead paragraph. In fact, no evidence at all of a direct relationship between Obama and Farrakhan is offered, other than White noting that because Farrakhan's Nation of Islam is a political force in Chicago's black community, "wouldn’t be uncommon for [Obama and Farrakhan] to show up at events together, or at least be there and communicate with each other." But neither White nor Timmerman offered any actual evidence that even that happened.

Timmerman goes on to cite White claiming that Obama's speaking style has "a religious tenor to it that is very much Nation of Islam-like. I don’t know if anyone has ever touched on it, but Obama’s speaking style is very Malcolm-like, very Farrakhan-like," adding that "Obama’s remarkable speaking style, even his manner of standing at a podium to appear larger than life, is directly copied from Farrakhan." Timmerman chimes in with specious evidence to purportedly support the claim:

Any American who has listened to early radio or television interviews of Obama can hear how dramatically Obama’s speaking style has changed since he became a United States senator.

In clips dating from 2001 and even early 2004, Obama speaks haltingly and in long, rambling sentences packed with legalese and dense pseudo-academic rhetoric. But not today.

But if neither Timmerman nor White can provide evidence that there's a current, ongoing relationship between Obama and Farrakhan, how can improvements in Obama's post-2004 speaking style be attributed to Farrakhan?

Timmerman's story is hollow and shouldn't be treated as anything other than the desperate, last-minute smear that it is. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 PM EDT

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