The conservative troika of Matt Drudge, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity unveiled what they claimed to be a campaign game-changer last night: video of a 2007 speech then-Sen. Barack Obama gave in which he praised Rev. Jeremiah Wright and vented about what he saw as a failure of the federal government to adequately help the predominantly minority victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The Drudge Report teased it as “Obama’s other race speech.” Carlson’s Daily Caller touted it as featuring “a barely recognizable Obama” delivering a “racially charged and at times angry speech.” And Hannity opened his Fox News show by declaring it “some of the most divisive class warfare and racially charged rhetoric ever used by Barack Obama.”
But the rub, of course, is that it’s difficult for a five-year-old video to live up to that bombshell billing when the speech itself was not only open to the press but was also widely covered at the time by pretty much everyone from the Associated Press to Fox News to NPR.
As Dave Weigel touched on last night in his great recap of the original reporting on the speech, for the conservatives (re)hyping Obama’s remarks five years later, it’s not that major media outlets didn’t cover the speech in 2007, it’s that they didn’t cover it enough.
And in that vein, last night’s re-release party that took place on Fox News was at least a partial success. The unveiling of the full video—portions of it had been previously available online, as was a transcript of Obama’s remarks—along with the late-afternoon hype that preceded it, generated a whole slew of articles by media outlets that had already covered the speech the first time around.
Most articles fell into one of two categories, either a) talking about how the right was attempting to make hay out of a video from half a decade ago (representative headline: the Associated Press’ “Conservatives Seize on Obama Video“); or b) flatly asking whether it was worth anyone’s time (Politico’s “Obama ‘07 video: Shock or schlock?“).
But the fact that the coverage was mostly dismissive means little in the big picture for those conservatives who believe the media is intentionally ignoring Obama’s past in a bid to bolster his re-election. If anything, in their eyes, it is just another data point in their everyone’s-against-us narrative that now extends to any pollster who dares to suggest Obama has a lead.
Perhaps more important in the short-term, it also sets the stage for conservatives to cry foul if at tonight’s debate moderator Jim Lehrer makes mention of Romney’s now-viral 47-percent remarks and not the new/old Hampton video that conservative talking heads are claiming is Obama’s analog.