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Who's The Most Desperate to Smear Obama?

A rogue's gallery of ConWeb writers do whatever it takes to slime Barack Obama. Who did the worst?

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/30/2008

It's crunch time, and the ConWeb is in a frenzy.

It held its collective nose and got behind John McCain, especially after McCain named right-wing diva Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee. But tepid, hold-your-nose support for McCain, countered by blindly loyal support for Palin, hasn't been enough.

The ConWeb has also been concurrently mounting ever-more-shrill attacks on Barack Obama. That's not enough, either -- Obama remains solidly ahead in national polls.

So the ConWeb must resort to the only tool it has left: Disregard the facts -- and even good taste -- to smear Obama no matter what. Indeed, it almost seems like a competition among the various ConWeb components to see who can go the farthest.

So, let's take a look at the contestants:

Jerome Corsi

ConWebWatch has already documented the WorldNetDaily writer's bid for Obama slime infamy -- his use of fake documents to attempt to tie Obama to Kenya's Raila Odinga. The emails Corsi used to claim that Obama assigned a staff liaison to deal with Odinga were obviously not written by a person for whom English was a first language, and Corsi's claim that Obama funded Odinga's presidential campaign was debunked six months before Corsi peddled his claim, as were the obviously faked documents Corsi used to back up his claim.

Most recently, Corsi has been dispatched to Hawaii to, as an Oct. 23 WND article put it, "uncover the truth of the senator's place of birth" -- never mind that two months earlier, WND declared Obama's birth certificate to be "authentic." An Oct. 26 article by Corsi trumpeted an anonymous, unsubstantiated claim that the state of Hawaii "has placed the candidate's birth certificate under seal, and instructed the state's Department of Health to make sure no one in the press obtains access to the original document under any circumstances."

Corsi cited another anonymous, unsubstantiated -- yet purportedly "credible" -- source to claim in an Oct. 30 article that "the late Marxist activist Frank Marshall Davis" was "the source of drugs consumed by Obama." The article goes even further, claiming "Marxist 'mentor' sold drugs with Obama."

Remember what Corsi's boss, Joseph Farah, said about anonymous sources: that they're "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better."

Ronald Kessler

Earlier this year, Newsmax's Washington bureau chief sold himself out -- from McCain hater to McCain fluffer -- to get on the right side of the Republicans, but his Newsmax columns have been dedicated much more to attacking Obama than defending McCain. But as we saw in 2006, scare tactics are more Kessler's style.

As ConWebWatch has detailed, Kessler was one of the ConWeb writers pushing inflammatory statements made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and that's the horse he plans to beat to death. In an Oct. 28 column, Kessler is reduced to begging his fellow Republicans to bring it up again:

For months, Republicans have been searching for a smoking gun that would firmly tie Barack Obama to a radical to illustrate how out of step he is with most of America.

Guess what? That radical is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.


Wright holds the key to what Obama is all about, demonstrating his attraction to a left wing, anti-American agenda. At this point, given the economic downturn, Wright could also be the key to McCain winning the election.

Kessler's recent non-Wright-related attacks have been mostly tepid:

  • An Oct. 20 column accused Barack Obama of 'lack[ing] a moral compass" -- raising the question of Kessler's own moral compass, given that he so quickly pushed his hatred of McCain aside in order to stay in the GOP club.
  • An Oct. 26 column lamely tried to make the case that "Barack Obama’s trips to Hawaii on a chartered Boeing 757 each cost more than twice the price of Sarah Palin’s new clothes." Kessler's source for the claim was Brad Blakeman -- a Republican activist, not an aviation expert.

Aaron Klein

WorldNetDaily's Jerusalem reporter has shown an eagerness to lie and mislead about Obama, from sliming him with an endorsement from Hamas to falsely portraying a misstatement about which Obama relative helped to liberate which concentration camp during World War II" as a assertion that Obama forwarded a "a discredited distortion of the Holocaust."

Klein's bid for last-minute desperate Obama smear-dom began with a return to the Hamas endorsement well: According to an Oct. 19 article, Hamas official Ahmed Yousef -- who made the original endorsement of Obama back in April -- paid another visit to John Batchelor's radio show where he, unsurprisingly, praised Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, as a "very nice" person and a "great man" whose record "speaks volumes" and who can be counted on by the terror group to engage in the "right policy" toward the Middle East. Klein doesn't mention Obama's and Biden's disapproval of Hamas until the end of his 22-paragraph article.

This raises even more questions about collaboration between Yousef, Klein and Batchelor, which ConWebWatch first raised upon Yousef's first appearance. As he did earlier, Yousef just happens to pop up at crucial times on Batchelor's show, with Klein as a co-interviewer, to advance Klein's and Batchelor's partisan anti-Obama agenda. Klein seems to want his readers to believe this is not a coincidence.

That didn't get much media play, unlike Yousef's original endorsement, so Klein went for the smear-laden and factually challenged jugular in an Oct. 27 column, in which he likened Obama to "Middle East dictators":

All freedom-loving Americans and independent-minded journalists must be concerned about the authoritarian actions practiced in recent days by Sen. Barack Obama's campaign, which cut off future interviews to a local news network after its anchor dared to ask legitimate but pressing questions to Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden.

The boycott move is a direct threat to what little is left of America's free press, highlighting to reporters the ramifications of questioning the Obama campaign on issues it doesn't want to talk about.

As a Mideast reporter, I've seen this kind of action before. It's routinely practiced by Middle East dictators and has resulted in an intimidated press corps which toes the jihadist line, in part out of fear of having their contacts cut off.

First: It wasn't a "local news network"; it was a TV station in Florida.

Second: John McCain's campaign has done the exact same thing. Nowhere does Klein liken McCain to "Middle East dictators" for banning Time magazine's Joe Klein from the campaign plane for criticizing the campaign.

Klein then resorted to more garden-variety misleading statements, asserting that Biden's claim during that local TV interview that "We haven't paid Acorn a single penny to register one single voter" is "false and misleading":

Obama's campaign indeed paid more than $800,000 in services to Citizen Services Inc., [sic] or CSI, a nonprofit organization that is an affiliate of ACORN and works from the organization's offices. The payments, listed for "stage, lighting or sound," stood out in FEC filings since CSI does not offer services for stage, lighting or sound. The Obama campaign amended the FEC reports in August and September to claim the payments to CSI were for get-out-the-vote efforts, which means the Obama campaign absolutely paid an affiliate of ACORN to help register voters.

In fact, "get-out-the-vote efforts" are not the same thing as registering voters. As CNN detailed, Citizens Services Inc. was paid by the Obama campaign for 'vote canvassing, such as knocking on doors and urging people to vote. ... Obama campaign advisers stressed in an Oct. 14 teleconference that the campaign paid Citizens' Services Inc. for canvassing, but not voter registration."

Klein also wrote:

Biden's attendant claim there is "no relationship" between Obama and ACORN is also untrue. In 1992, Obama was director of Project Vote in Chicago, which helped register 150,000 voters on the city's South Side and whose parent company is registered at the same New Orleans address in which ACORN and multiple ACORN affiliates are housed. Obama's campaign claims ACORN was "not part of" Project Vote, but Obama himself previously stated ACORN was "in the middle" of Project Vote.

But again, as ConWebWatch pointed out when Newsmax's Lowell Ponte made the same claim, the fact that Project Vote shares a corporate home with ACORN now is irrelevant to the relationship between the two groups in 1992. As ACORN itself has stated: "At that time, Project Vote had no more connection to ACORN than it did with dozens of other national and local organizations with which it partnered on local registration drives." Klein has offered no evidence whatsoever to contradict this.

But Klein wasn't done smearing Obama over cutting off a TV station in Florida:

But the Obama-Orlando boycott could have far-reaching, long-term consequences should Obama take the White House. Reporters have taken note and will likely think twice in the future before bringing up legitimate issues that call into question Obama's leadership and its reifications for the U.S.

Talk radio must immediately be placed on high alert in response to the [Barbara] West incident and amid reports Democrat [sic] senators are itching to revive some version of the Fairness Doctrine, which aims to silence non-liberal viewpoints.

The type of media oppression evidenced by the Obama camp is regularly practiced in the Middle East, where (excluding Israel) independent journalism is virtually nonexistent.


The outlook for the already grim future state of reporting during an Obama administration just faded to black.

The funny thing is, real journalists -- unlike Klein, who's apparently content working in public-relations arm the McCain campaign -- said about West's interview of Biden. As one observer noted, "It may be the worst interview of a major political figure by a "professional" broadcast journalist I've ever witnessed. It was like something out of the old Soviet Union where propaganda masqueraded as news. Every question West asked revealed a bias against Sen. Barack Obama that reached the point of outright hostility."

A blogger at the interviewer's hometown paper stated:

This is the most embarrassing interview I've ever seen on local television. This has nothing to do with whether you are for Obama or McCain. It's about being professional. Quoting Karl Marx?

Even Sean Hannity wouldn't be so ham-handed. Making matters worse, it looks like Barbara is just dumbly reading questions someone just handed her, then staring blankly at the screen.

The only thing missing from Klein's column was the tag, "I'm John McCain, and I approved this message," since that was the goal of his little screed.

Cliff Kincaid

The Accuracy in Media editor has been peddling all sorts of wild claims about Obama for months. His central obsession, though, has been Frank Marshall Davis, a now-deceased writer and political activist with whom Obama was acquainted as a teenager in Hawaii; Kincaid regularly bashes as a Communist agitator.

One might even call Kincaid's obsession with Obama and Davis akin to an addiction. In various forms of addiction, the addicted person must resort to greater and more intense doses of the substance they are abusing -- drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. -- to reach the same high?

That's where Cliff Kincaid is right now.

In an Aug. 24 AIM column, Kincaid repeats claims that alleged Barack Obama "mentor" Frank Marshall Davis "was a bisexual engaged in 'sordid' sexual activities and had repeated sexual encounters with a 13-year-old girl." His source: an article in the conservative UK newspaper the Telegraph stating that Davis wrote a pornographic novel under a pseudonym that included those activities. It doesn't matter if what Davis wrote was fiction, Kincaid declares: "Whether the book Sex Rebel is entirely based on Davis or not, the controversy certainly demonstrates that Davis had a perverted sexual interest and should not have been trusted as a mentor for any young person."

Kincaid was essentially playing the same card Republicans tried to play against congressional candidate Jim Webb in 2006, by portraying sexually explicit scenes in Webb's works of fiction as reflective of Webb himself. ( heavily promoted that meme.) Kincaid does not, and cannot, prove Davis actually did any of the stuff he wrote about.

Indeed, the same game can be played with Kincaid, who seems unusually interested in this newfound sexual aspect. Does that not raise questions about Kincaid's own private life?

Kincaid took things several steps farther in his Oct. 14 Accuracy in Media column. The headline: "Was a Communist Obama’s Sex Teacher?"

In it, Kincaid fully merged two obsessions -- Barack Obama and Frank Marshall Davis -- with sex. Did Kincaid arouse himself a little by writing that headline and by describing Davis as a "Communist sex pervert"? (And is being a "Communist sex pervert" better or worse than being a regular sex pervert?)

Kincaid went on to happily tout that "the tabloid National Enquirer has seized upon the Frank Marshall Davis story in its October 20 issue. It glosses over his Communist Party membership and focuses instead on his role as sex pervert, pedophile, pornographer and mentor to Obama. This 'exclusive' was actually broken wide open by my group America’s Survival, Inc. weeks ago." One wonders if Kincaid served as the undisclosed source for the Enquirer story -- and how much the Enquirer paid him.

Kincaid insisted that the Enquirer story "is definitely true" (really, how solid can the story be if the National Enquirer is vouching for Kincaid?), which means that Kincaid must also accept that the Enquirer's claim that Sarah Palin had an affair with her husband's former business partner is also true.

But he won't, since he's too busy sending his imagination into fevered overdrive about what he thinks happened between Obama and Davis:

Was Davis Obama’s sex teacher? Did he influence Obama to take liberal views on such matters as homosexuality and abortion? This possibility makes the Davis-Obama relationship one of national political importance.

What exactly happened in Davis’s home? We know from the record that Davis and Dunham drank alcohol and smoked pot together. Obama admits drinking with Davis as well and going on to smoke marijuana and use cocaine. What else happened between them besides listening to Davis’s poetry?

Kincaid might want to pay a visit to the restroom to clean himself up before he ventures back out in public.

Jack Cashill

The WorldNetDaily columnist, as ConWebWatch has documented, is best known for promulgating various conspiracies involving the Clintons and for proclaiming anti-abortion extremist James Kopp innocent of a murder he, uh, committed.

Without a Clinton to kick around or conspire about for the 2008 general election, Cashill was a bit adrift (to use a nautical reference he claims familiarity with). then he stumbled upon what might be considered a grand unification conspiracy theory: William Ayers ghost-wrote Obama's first book, "Dreams From My Father."

Cashill first laid out his assertion in a three-part series for WND Sept. 18-20. He had no actual evidence to back this up, of course -- just a claim to have "developed an eye for literary humbug." Cashill claims a purported similarity between "Dreams" and Ayers' 2001 memoir, "Fugitive Days." Cashill also asserts the two have a similar background: "Ayers and Obama both grew up in comfortable white households and have struggled to find an identity as righteous black men ever since." And Cashill demonstrates a need to belittle Obama as nothing more than an Ayers mouthpiece, something else he has no actual evidence to support: "In Obama, alas, Ayers may have found a much more a lethal weapon to use against the 'marauding monster' called America than any pipe bomb he could have ever built." Cashill added: "For Ayers, like so many on the left, hard and soft, facts are whatever he can get away with." Given that Cashill is peddling conjecture as fact, he might as well be writing about himself.

His Sept. 25 column forwarded these odd claims presented as evidence: "both [Ayers] and Obama are obsessed with memory and its instability," and both have used "nautical language," noting that Ayers once worked as a merchant seaman. Cashill concluded: "As a writer, especially in the pre-Google era of 'Dreams,' I would never have used a metaphor as specific as 'ballast' unless I knew exactly what I was talking about," suggesting without evidence that Obama would not have used it on his own, as if he had never seen ships while growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii.

In his Oct. 2 column, Cashill sounds disappointed that "the technology is not currently available to do a fully reliable authorship analysis," so again, he peddles his conspiracy, repeating once more the purported shared affinity for nautical references. He even ends his column the same way as the last one but this time stating directly what he had only implied previously: "As a writer, especially in the pre-Google era of 'Dreams,' I would never have used an image as specific as 'ballast' unless I knew exactly what I was talking about. Ayers knew. Obama did not."

He does note: "In Obama's defense, he did grow up in Hawaii. Still, he gives little hint of having spent time at the beach or on any kind of real ship, and yet his memoir is awash in aquatic imagery," adding:

Not everyone writes this way. For instance, my book "Sucker Punch," which is no small part a memoir about race, is silent on the subject of the sea.

"Sucker Punch" makes no reference at all, metaphorical or otherwise, to ships, seas, oceans, calms, storms, wind, waves, horizons, panoramas, or of things howling, fluttering, knotted, ragged, tangled, or murky. None.

This despite the fact that I have likely a deeper relationship with the sea than Obama, having spent a good chunk of every summer of my life at the ocean, and having a summer home on the boundless Lake Erie for the last 20 years.

But again, he offered no evidence that Obama couldn't know any aquatic terms with enough familiarity to use them in his writing.

Nevertheless, by Oct. 29, Cashill was blaring that "Barack Obama is an impostor, the Milli Vanilli of politics, a man who has been lip-synching for the last 13 years to lyrics pre-recorded by, among others, Bill Ayers." Citing the alleged work of "five different sets of researchers," including "a British scholar of international repute." Cashill asserted: "Now, the science is coming in, from a variety of sources, and it confirms a hypothesis that is evident to anyone who cares to look: Obama had substantial help from Ayers."

Strangely, Cashill doesn't actually name any of these supposedly prestigious "researchers," making it impossible to verify their work; he provides only an analysis made by a commercial software program called FictionFixer, which is not a scientific analysis but rather, according to its makers, primarily a fiction plotting tool:

FictionFixer™ tracks and analyzes more than 250 characteristics of current bestselling novels. The software combines this data with a consensus of expert advice and opinion to define a model representing what the public expects from such books.

The makers also claim that the program "can be used to resolve questions of authorship," but doesn't explain whether it applies to nonfiction.

And the winner is ...

Arguably, given the level of panic involved in making these attack, each of these so-called journalists is a winner, such as it is. Let's break it down:

Doggedly desperate: Aaron Klein

Lame desperate: Ronald Kessler

Facts-be-damned desperate: Jerome Corsi

Creatively desperate: Jack Cashill

Pervertedly desperate: Cliff Kincaid

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