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Friday, October 10, 2008


Think you know the real Barack Obama? The McCain campaign has no idea who he is or what his plans are for America. Baltimore City Paper columnist Vincent Williams believes “unknown” is code for “other.”
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Comments [41]


I would like to comment about "kill him" that was supposedly said at a McCain rally. Now the mainstream media may not have reported this but the Secret Service investigated it, questioned people, watched video and listened to tapes and "kill him" was never said. "Get them" however was the chant, referring to the man who told McCain and Palin to get the people responsible for the financial situation. You listen too much to the liberal media.

Oct. 31 2008 12:37 PM
kelly smith from new palestine indiana

you people are blinded. Biden has been a part of our government decisions for many years he holds responsiblity for the state of our country.
Get real people, open your eyes, do you want to give all your control to Obama????

Oct. 31 2008 02:11 AM
kelly smith from new palestine indiana

People, Decide do you want more government control in your life or not. That is the issue. Obama will control your life and your money.

Oct. 31 2008 02:08 AM
blackbelt_jones from ubuntu

@Matt: I can't help but notice that, when cornered, you become increasingly adorable. So why is "Change that we belief in gibberish? Because it's too specific, or because it's not specific enough? Since you have an opinion, you must have listened to it, right? Enligthen us.

Oct. 21 2008 12:19 AM
David from Rhode Island

Re: Craig Ellisor and Obama writing 890 bills since being elected to the Senate.

What utter and complete nonsense. That would be almost a bill per day, if there are 250 working days a year, and you figure he could not be writing bills and campaigning for the last 2 years also. He mostly coat-tailed onto other bills (there were many sponsors of the Immigration Reform Act and the Ethics Bill, neither of which he authored), and he voted "present" far more than he actually cast votes. What a guy!

Mark my words, we are going to be sorry we elected this egotistical fool, unless you believe, as Ayres does, that America as a concept is inherently evil. Read his books. And yet Obama accepts money from him, has campaign events at his house, and does not denounce him except in the faintest terms for what he did in the 60's. How about denouncing him for his reaction to 9/11? Obama will make the USA far more socialist in nature if he gets his way, and we will just be the United States of Europe.

Oct. 20 2008 09:05 AM
Matt from Arlington, Virginia

seven and a half hours of jibberish is still jibberish even though it is seven and a half hours long.

Oct. 18 2008 07:55 PM
blackbelt_jones from USA

@David Row: There are narratives that tend stick to Republicans (racism, greed) and narratives that tend to stick to Democrats (philandering, lack of patriotsim) It just fits people's perceptions, I guess. If you read my first post, you'll see that I didn't agree that there was anything demonstrably racist in the McCain campaign's message here. There's definitely racism abroad in the land, but I don't see it coming directly from the campaign. The campaign narrative about otherness is a Republican classic. For some people that plays to racial prejudice, but they'd be saying the same thing anyway.

Also, I consider there to be a difference between racism and prejudice. Racism is a morally bankrupt political philosophy that used to be mainstreamm, and now has been marginalized. Prejudice is a human weakness that's pretty much universal. Everybody's prejudiced about something. We all have to struggle to overcome it, and I would never want anyone to penalize someone for accidentally letting their prejudice show. It's happened to me.

So if Sarah Palin was to acidentally say something dumb like Biden said, i might make a joke or two about it, but I would never expect her or anyone to pay a serious price for it. I know some would, but I don't know what you think I should do about it. I think that's just wrong. We can't overcome our prejudices if we can't acknowledge them. We all have these weak spots. We should be able to apologize and move on.

Oct. 18 2008 01:05 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Much thanks to Mr. Ellisor for this list of Obama's legislative record.

If my recollection is correct, Barack and Michelle led a national coalition of community organizing projects at a Washington, D.C. weekday event, after a weekend-long conference, which included a mass action at a corporate office (where I ended up sitting in the middle of the corporate board table in the same room with them) and the surrounding of the Federal Reserve building there with a red ribbon which reminded me of Abbie Hoffman's stunt at the Pentagon (as opposed to those plans of the Weather Underground or the act of Al Quida). I never learned who they were but I always remembered that the couple was from the Chicago contingent.

The two actions seemed like a victories at the time (how organizers measure and build community organizations) and allowed me to see that the Chinese Embassy had merely whitewashed over the "Killing Yoke" graffiti I had written on the second anniversary of Tiananmen Square the summer before, while being trained in Ethernet software by the same coalition.

Oct. 17 2008 04:55 PM
Craig Ellisor from Omaha

“**the Coburn-Obama Government Transparenc y Act of 2006, **The Lugar-Obama Nuclear Non-proliferation and Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction Act, **The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, passed the Senate, **The 2007 Government Ethics Bill, **The Protection Against Excessive Executive Compensation Bill, (In committee), and many more. In all since he entered the U.S. Senate, Senator Obama has written 890 bills and co-sponsored another 1096. An impressive record, for someone who supposedly has no legislative record.”

Oct. 16 2008 07:22 PM
Stephen Chavez from Silver Spring, MD

According to media reports, before he became a candidate, Barak Obama was a "community activist." What did he do? Who did he help? I haven't heard anything relative to his career accomplishments. He's been a successful candidate on several levels. But to be a successful candidate, all he had to do was make a bunch of vague promises to a gullible electorate. What has he accomplished, other than get elected? What legislative initiatives has he authored and supported. Sure, he's been running for president for two years, but that doesn't mean we know him.

Oct. 16 2008 02:59 PM
NickB from Seattle

It is time to start vigorously challenging weak-minded blowhards who bandy around the term "racist" without good reason. Obama has held no position of any significant executive responsibility. It is therefore entirely legitimate to suggest that we don't know enough about how he is likely to behave if in the hot seat. The only people who see such questions as "racist" are ignorant racists. The right thing to do with second-rate hacks like Williams is to ignore them - not to give them National airtime.

Oct. 16 2008 02:28 PM
David Rowe from Lawrenceville, NJ

To paraphrase Senator Obama, it's above my paygrade to ever challenge anyone who goes by the name blackbelt, but my point about the "clean" and "articulate" is this: If Sarah Palin gives a stump speech tomorrow in which she calls Senator Obama "clean" and "articulate" the race - if there is any race left - would be over. She would be branded racist - not just "dumb." There might even be a cmapaign in Alaska to impeach. If she had said it before McCain had chosen a VP, she would not be the VP choice. But Joe Biden says it - before Obama chooses - and he IS the VP choice.


Oct. 15 2008 05:01 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

My 92-year old mother and I listened to a copy of "The Audicty of Hope" from the Library for the Blind and Handicapped. It is, as promoted above, an exhaustive and exhausting list of policy positions. It is boring, but leaves little question about what and how Obama thinks and what he planned to do. It is also, now, out of date, considering our slide toward a global depression.

I do agree that this "otherness" Republicans highlight is little different than in previous campaign. An African-American Democratic candidate is what is different.

Oct. 15 2008 02:46 PM
blackbelt_jones from USA

@David Rowe

That was a really dumb thing Biden said. If Sarah Palin had said that, it would have also been really dumb.

Anything else you want to know?

Oct. 14 2008 05:49 PM
blackbelt_jones from USA

Matt, I repeat:
I am currently in possession of "Change We Can Believe In", an audio program that amounts to a densely packed list of Obama's position on prehaps every important issue, with no filler. I downloaded it from as a consequence of this discussion. I haven't listened to the whole thing because MATT, IT'S SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS LONG! I don't think you can get much more on the record than this. Do you disagree?

Of course, the mainstream media is drawn to triviality. When we first started hearing about "lipstick on a pig", we knew that it was going to be the business as usual from these guys, who, to be fair, are naturally drawn to "stories" and not to ideas. Fortunately, we don't have to depend of them any more. Obama has taken a lot of very specific positions on a multitude of issues and released them to the public, and you're correct in maintining that's his responsibility, but now it's our responsibility to seek that information out.

Obama has done a good job of getting his positions out there. It's a big part of his success that people who have looked for his positions have found them in spades, but you have to know where to look. I may give you a little homework, I can recommend a website where you can find links to a ton of information about Obama's positions. It's called

Oct. 14 2008 05:44 PM
David Rowe from Lawrenceville, NJ

I would be curious to know what you all thought when Joe Biden referred to Obama as being "clean" and "articulate." OTM was deafeningly quiet when this happened. I'm trying to think what would happen if Sarah Palin had said something like that...

Oct. 14 2008 03:58 PM
Robbie from New York

Reviewing many of these comments proves the point: Nobody is a racist anymore. ( And I have a bridge to sell you!)

Insightful segment.
Keep up the good work

Oct. 14 2008 03:28 PM
John Q. Public

Posted by: superf88 October 11, 2008 - 07:57PM
Telling my honky rugrats we're votin for THAT ONE sure does save me a lot of gum flappin

Why, pray tell, is it perfectly fine to use the "H word," but it is racist to use the "N word?" Would any of you liberals like to explain that? The fact is, they are both vile and racist words that have no place in intelligent discourse.

Oct. 14 2008 01:23 PM
Matt from Arlington, Virginia

What I am saying is that Senator Obama has to make the case that his policies are in the mainstream of American political thought. Being a liberal senator from Illinois, like Majority Whip Durbin is one indication of his liberal agenda. Coincidently the Congressional Black Caucus is the main proponent of a very liberal agenda in Congress. I and others have not noticed a marked deviation from the agenda proposed by the CBC in Senator Obama's two short years of service at the Federal level. And when campaigning the burden is on the candidate to make the case for his election and not the other way around. (Just ask John McCain)

The media has been complicit in giving Senator Obama a pass on policy. This prevents Senator Obama from running a campaign that is a modern version of Governor Wilder's 1988 election which was all policy based and led to a successful term as governor and provided a road map for increasing the number of African Americans in government.

The pass on issues of import that the media has given to Senator Obama prevents the application of his electoral strategy to other races and a subsequent wave of African American wining in State-wide elections.

You should do your homework. It is a good book directly on the subject of the policy goals of the CBC by a good political scientist

Oct. 13 2008 10:03 PM
blackbelt_jones from New York

And what claims am I making? I'm asking you a question.

Oct. 13 2008 02:46 PM
blackbelt_jones from New York


Never mind giving me homework. I'm not trying to get you to prove what you're saying, I'm trying to get you to actually get you to say it.

So you're saying that because Obama is black, this organization is setting his agenda. That's the only thing you're offering here. Nothing else, right?

Oct. 13 2008 02:16 PM

When Sarah Palin spoke in my state, at Wilmington, Ohio, recently, she often revved up the crowd with innuendos prompting the crowd to cry out "Terrorist" and "Traitor." She heartily encouraged such talk by trying to tie Obama to Ayres despite as we know and you mentioned, that he merely served on an anti-poverty board with him.

Recently, someone in her crowd even cried "Kill Him!" No one of her staff apologized for such behavior and this has been my biggest fear. Who is to say that some product of an unbalanced mind won't take this type of talk to heart.

The media is for the most part ignoring this behavior when it should be vigilant in forcing those groups to become accountable for their shameful behavior.

Mr. Rowe perhaps is partly right - Palin is not using code, but is quite overt in what she is doing and that is the shameful behavior for which she should be called to task.

Oct. 13 2008 10:14 AM
Matt from Arlington, Virginia

Blackbelt Jones. Check out David A. Bositis's Book "Congressional Black Caucus in the 103rd Congress".

You should also familiarize yourself with the NES and NBES before making the claims you make.

The Congressional Black Caucus and the CBC Foundation have as members most if not all of the African Americans elected to the United States Congress in modern history.

If Blackbelt Jones doesn't think that the Congressional Black Caucus has a role in politics and the shaping of the legislative agenda of African American's in politics then that might say more about Blackbelt Jones than anyone he or she is calling out.

Oct. 13 2008 09:44 AM
blackbelt_jones from New York

OMG! OMG! OMG! did anybody really check out Matt's post? It's pretty awesome.

And I quote:

"To claim that "unknown" or "other" labels are unfairly attributed to Senator Obama and not Governor Palin negates the history of African American Members of Congress since the early 1990's and exposes the heights that OTM has gone to ignore the media's malpractice in not objectively covering the 2008 presidential campaign.

National Election Study after National Election Study show that the agenda Congressional Black Caucus does not reflect the policy preferences of a majority of the country or even the equivalent of 270 electoral college votes.

Okay, I don't want to take him out context here, so somebody please tell me if Homey didn't just attempt to "prove" that it's not racist to suggest that Obama has a different point of view than mainstream America by using the Congressional Black Caucus as evidence as evidence.

It's an interesting proposition, but Matt, I'm just wondering what Barak Obama has in comman with the congressional black caucus which makes it a forgone conclusion that Obama will behave in the same way. Do they have the same tailor? Do they share a love of Chinese food? Are they all Carrie Underwood fans? Could you be a little more explicit, please?

Oct. 12 2008 11:12 PM
blackbelt_jones from New York

Hey, I just downloaded the audio version of "Change We Can Believe in" at (I think that this downloading this particular work, which is, after all campaign literature, is probably legal, but nobody wants to be taking legal advice from me. From what I've sampled, it's not a book in the usual sense. It's not an autobiography or an essay, it's just a list of policy positions, ready by a narrator. "Barak Obama will do this." "Barak Obama believes this". Ladies and gentlemen, according to my media player, it is seven hours and 21 minutes long!

So lets get this straight: if you're worried abhout his lack of experience, that's valid. But if you think he's some kind of shadowym, sercret figure, whose views cannot be know, that's beyond ridiculous. This man simply could not be more upfront and the record. It may be more than you want to know, but don't blame him for your lack of curiosity. It's alll out there!

Oct. 12 2008 10:12 PM
Robin from San Rafael, CA

I haven't heard one objective story about this election from you during the primary or during the general election and this is another example of your extreme bias for Senator Obama.

The REASON we know so little about Obama is that every time someone tried to find out more about him, his campaign screamed racism and the media took up the cry. He won't release his birth certificate; his records from Columbia and his IL State Senate records (they've gone missing). He flip-flopped on FISA, on gun control, on Iraq, on public-financing, on faith-based initiatives so we don't know where he stands on anything.

The current media meme that the Republicans are getting violent NEVER mentions the vicious and misogynist cartoons of Palin, Obama supporters torching a McCain sign or even Obama's speech telling his supporters to get in their neighbors faces or that he will bring a gun to a knife fight (obviously just a figure of speech but a violent one at that). References to these things are here:

This is the same media who brought us the Iraq war; who made fun of Gore; who helped swiftboat Kerry. The same media who asked, since NH, when Hillary would drop out. Obama is the greatest teflon candidate since Reagan and the most UNexamined since George Bush. Please stop calling me a racist because I won't vote for this fraud.

Oct. 12 2008 07:59 PM

Is this On The Media, or Amp The Media?

If this were On the Media, you might have a segment about the disconnect between the Bradley effect (5-10%) and all of the pundits so eager to declare ther race lost because of race.

Having yet another story about the fact there are racists obscures the many real problems that yes, even liberals might have with Obama. In addition to a segment on the Bradley effect, On The Media would discuss how far or close Obama is to some liberal ideal, or discuss how and why Obama may have alienated voters who aren't racist.

Should Obama win, and that's certainly what looks to be happening, will ANY of your pundits declaring all opposition to Obama to be racist take a new look at America, and decide that even with a recent racist past, America 2008 can vote in non-racist manners? Or will they just concentrate on those that voted against him due to race and declare, even with an Obama election, America to be racist?

How on earth will other politicians, news analysts, comedians, or the common person be able to criticise President Obama after the election? Will it always be, criticism of Obama implies racist?

That's something On The Media might cover.

Oct. 12 2008 05:51 PM
JB from New York, NY

For the video discussed:

Oct. 12 2008 05:42 PM
Dorothy from Manhattan

I have never before been called a "racist" -- that is until I decided that I could not support Obama. I'm planning to vote for some obscure 3rd party candidate (neither Nader nor Barr) and I'm told I'm wasting my vote. I've been voting for the lesser or two evils since 1968 and I'm not doing it anymore.

On how many issues did Obama vote "present"? 184? Well, I don't know where he stands on those issues. He said he'd filibuster FISA if/when it came to the floor and he simply voted for it. He's for govt funding of faith-based initiatives and I didn't approve of that when GWB did it and I don't approve of it under Obama. Even when he tells us what he'll do he ends up doing something else. I don't know how he'll act in a crisis because he's never faced one. I don't know how he'll face opposition from congress because he wasn't in congress long enough for me to understand how he works with people.

We need a viable and strong 3rd party in this country so that people can vote FOR someone rather than AGAINST someone.

Oct. 12 2008 12:19 PM
blackbelt_jones from New York

@Jack: One very direct thing that Barak Obama did during his years in the Senate to let us know what he stands for is to write a book entitled "The Audacity of Hope" about what he stands for. He has extemely detailed policy positions on his website. I don't know what more he could do to make his positions knownto you other than coming to your house, sitting net to your bed and reading you to sleep each night.

Oct. 12 2008 11:49 AM
Ryan Stevenson from Ann Arbor, MI

I say this as a huge fan of NPR and your show and as an Obama supporter: Why did you use those clips from When I went to watch the entire video, I saw a man who was clearly badgering McCain supporters to get them to make inflammatory comments. It was obvious he was not conducting interviews for the purpose of soliciting information, like a journalist might do. The video is heavily edited, so it is difficult to know if any comments are taken out of context. Your use of his material legitimizes those kinds of techniques. Absurdly, you also heavily edited his sound bites so that the material sounded more legitimate. I always felt your show was about balancing, exposing, and enriching the stories that are told and not told in the media. Please do not start telling stories using the same loathsome tactics used by partisan outlets. Please do not become a liberal version of Fox News.

Oct. 12 2008 11:04 AM
blackbelt_jones from New York

You know, the last time a presidential candidate had a sort of a vague tie with a "noted terrorist" was only four years ago. The candidate was George W. Bush, and the terrorist in question was Osama bin Laden, whose family has been pretty solidly linked to bin Laden's family. I suspect that in both cases, there's really nothing sinister about it, but it's interesting to note why for some, an assicasiation to a guy who killed no one in a struggle that is long over has more traction to an association with someone who murdered thousands in a very current struggle. For some, it may have more to do with political oppurtunism than race, for othersnot.

But race is there. It's just there, for everyone to deal with, like it or not. McCain doesn't have to speak in code to remind his followers that Barak Obama is black. For some, race will make everything Obama does seem more sinister, and for others, race will make everything John McCain does seem more sinister. This is where we are now.

Oct. 12 2008 08:32 AM
Jack from Chicago

Perhaps unknown is code for, wait for it, unknown. Please tell me anything Obama has accomplished in his years in the Senate, federal or Illinois. Name once piece of legislation he authored. He is unknown because no one knows what his deeds suggest he stands for, enough said.

Oct. 11 2008 11:25 PM
blackbelt_jones from New York

Hey ansell, why didn't YOU provide the link? Brooke? Bob? Anybody? Please don't make me search for You Tube for "John McCain Rally"!

Oct. 11 2008 08:21 PM

Telling my honky rugrats we're votin for THAT ONE sure does save me a lot of gum flappin

Oct. 11 2008 07:57 PM
Ansel Herz from Austin, TX -

That video quoted your report provides ample anecdotal evidence for the claim that McCain's recent attacks are racially coded to otherize Obama in the eyes of the white middle class. So thanks for the interview and report.

But I don't understand something. On the Media purports to be on the cutting edge of the changes in media. Why is the "Youtube video" you rely on in your report not linked from your website, and worse, that the citizen journalist who went out and did the work is left uncredited, referred to twice as "the cameraman." The guy has a name (Tim Russo) and he blogs at If ABC had done this report, you would have credited them. Why not do the same for a blogger?

(Incidentally, the same thing happened last spring when a Bruce Wilson, a blogger, uncovered videos and audio clips exposing the racism of John Hagee and other right-wing pastors with ties to McCain. The media, all the way up to the NYT, picked up the story but never credited him.)

It'd be nice to hear a response from one of the show's staff on this issue.

Oct. 11 2008 07:19 PM
blackbelt_jones from New York

Honestly, I don't see anything in McCain-Palin's rhetoric that is demonstrably racist. There nothing new here. It's pretty much standard Republican Fear and Smear. It's deceptive, grasping, silly, shameless ugly, anti-american and pathetic... but rasict? Not insofar as it's pretty much what they'd be doing anyway. Otherness is a standard Republican framing, isn't it? Race fits nicely into the narrative, but four years ago, it was wind surfing.

However, the crowds that I'm seeing and hearing from McCain's event are not behaving in a standard fashion. I'm sure you know that McCain was booed by his supporters recently, when he tried to dial down the ugly just a little bit. I can't prove it, but I think there's defintiely a racist energy with the crowd at these rallies, but what is McCain to do about it? He's just doing what Republicans (and sometimes even Democrats) do when they're behind. I really think that in many ways, race is making McCain's job harder. I'm sure that McCain and his people know full well how really disturbing these scenes from his events look on TV, but it's really all they got to work with.

You gotta feel sorry for McCain. Bush screwed him eight years ago, and now Bush is screwing him all over again.

Oct. 11 2008 07:03 PM
Matt from Arlington, Virginia

To claim that "unknown" or "other" labels are unfairly attributed to Senator Obama and not Governor Palin negates the history of African American Members of Congress since the early 1990's and exposes the heights that OTM has gone to ignore the media's malpractice in not objectively covering the 2008 presidential campaign.

National Election Study after National Election Study show that the agenda Congressional Black Caucus does not reflect the policy preferences of a majority of the country or even the equivalent of 270 electoral college votes.

At the same time experience as a governor or even Sen. McCain' Committee Chairmanships show a concrete application of policy preferences that Senator Obama' biography obviously lacks.

To consider citizens that describe Sen. Obama's candidacy as unknown, as stating anything other than objective fact, reveals much more about the forsaken principles of honest reporting and intelectual honesty by OTM, Vincent Williams, and others than voters that plan to vote against Senator Obama on the basis of the legion of unasked and unanswered questions about his qualifications and policy preferences.

Oct. 11 2008 05:34 PM
David from Rhode Island

Mr. Rowe's analysis seems quite complete and accurate as far as I am concerned. I would only add that the comparisons of Obama to Palin show desperation. Which one was it that is running for President?? There is certainly some chance Palin would have to take over, no denying that. But it is a sure thing that Obama would be in charge if he wins.

In fact we don't know much about how this man would act in office, really. Surely people cannot say with a straight face that you can trust any politician's rhetoric. I know he has a massive enough ego to write two books about himself, basically before he accomplished anything book-worthy. I think this is a very dangerous man, in fact, and I don't mean because I think he is a terrorist or a Muslim.

Shame on you for that part of the story, by the way. I promise you I could go to a Democratic rally and find someone nutty enough to call McCain a baby killer for his time in Viet Nam. Since when did anecdotal examples become news?

Oct. 11 2008 05:31 PM
David Rowe from Lawrenceville, NJ

That some don't feel like they know him might be because we don't know which is the real Obama – the nice guy with the cute girls with a resume not much longer than Palin's, or the guy who listen's to Ayers, Father Flager and Rev. Wright and says, "Yeah, that sounds right." Maybe we want to vote for the guy on what he says, but we still want more detail. Obama's spokesman still can't say when he knew who Ayers really was and if it changed his views on the man – listen to Mark Halperen try in vain to get anything close to an answer on this!

It's actually kinda funny that a guy who is so far ahead in the polls can really shout "other" when he is clearly so "in" with the media – and then get folks like you to report that he's "out." Now *there* would be story "on the media."

Oct. 11 2008 02:10 PM
David Rowe from Lawrenceville, NJ

One searches in vain for anything but repeats of partisan punditry in this story. You provide segments YOU got off YouTube, and then play them for the pundit to have him agree with the soundbites you've already chosen for him! Takes some hubris to do that and pass it off as analysis or reportage.

You also ripped Palin completely out of context. There was no "code" there – that stump speech clearly said that the reason we "don't know" Obama is because you and I don't serve on boards with noted terrorists (one of the victims of the Weather Underground attack was a black man), nor do we continually sit under the preaching of pastors who spew racism – and then have minions that charge others with racism! There ARE some facts to go on here that have *nothing* to do with race. Obama in his own words put down people who cling to their guns and their religion. So when Palin says "This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," this is what she's talking about. She is all about guns and religion. So where is the code-language for race there?

Oct. 11 2008 02:10 PM

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