Monday, June 02, 2008

Tracking down THAT video: "You know my methods, Watson. Apply them." (UPDATED)

Let us attempt to apply a Holmesian methodology to the case to the mysterious video. This is just a beginning.

A big IF colors everything that follows. We have, as yet, no hard proof that such a video exists. Here is what we do have:

1. Rather detailed second-hand reports come to us from Larry Johnson, who claims to have spoken to five sources. These sources are either Republicans or CIA acquaintances -- a fact which must give us some pause. Johnson has put his reputation on the line. He has much to lose if no video shows up, and -- as far as I can see -- nothing to gain from lying. (Well, I suppose temporarily increased traffic to his site could bring in added revenue -- but the amount of money involved is much less than many seem to think.)

2. Roger Stone, a shark-like GOP operative who apparently has his own sources, also says that such a video exists and that a television network possesses a copy, although he says that he has not seen it. I don't trust him.

3. We have a transcript derived from emails of an unknown provenance. The transcript is somewhat compelling, because it is so disjointed. People speaking "off the cuff" usually use sentence fragments instead of full sentences.

4. Other reporters have developed sources similar to or identical with Johnson's. From National Review:
I'm hearing from other reporters that their (secondhand, of course) sources are calling back and adding that they saw Louis Farrakhan on the tape, a detail that they didn't mention before Johnson's update of 9 this morning. Does the presence of Farrakhan seem like a detail that's easy to forget?
5. We have no response as yet from Michelle Obama.

Remember the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth? Remember how all Democratic strategists agreed that the lesson to be learned from that debacle was "We must respond quickly when false stories circulate"?

This odd silence compels me to consider the possibility that such a video exists.

Johnson has said that Rove has displayed the video to various rich GOP donors, as a way of opening the wallets of fat cats who might otherwise consider McCain's cause hopeless. If this is true, copies of the video are not circulating, and would remain under tight control, to be released only at the most auspicious time. (That is, auspicious from the Republican point of view -- i.e., the proverbial October Surprise.)

Unfortunately, many dolts simply do not read, and thus have come under the impression that Johnson has said that copies are in circulation.

In his latest, Johnson gives a visual description:
It features Michelle Obama and Louis Farrakhan. They are sitting on a panel at Jeremiah Wright’s Church when Michelle makes her intemperate remarks.
The rumored transcript, which Johnson has not endorsed, makes reference to Katrina. So this gives us a time frame.

When did Farrakhan appear on a panel at Trinity? I am trying to find out how many times he has shown up there since the Katrina disaster. We do know that in December of 2007, Trinity United gave Farrakhan what the church calls the "Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer award." (I'm just puckish enough to point out that Farrakhan is a violinist.)

This video was shown on that occasion. I presume that the woman narrating the piece is not Michelle.

What was the exact date of the award? I don't know. Virtually all easily-available news accounts place it "one month" after a Farrakhan speech on November 11, 2007. On that occasion, he said that "Satanic Jews" had taken over Black Entertainment Television.

Our course of action thus seems clear:

-- Discover the exact date of the "Trumpeteer" award ceremony.

-- Determine the Obamas' whereabouts on that date.

-- Find out any other post-Katrina occasions on which Louis Farrakhan may have appeared at Trinity United.

One other possibility occurs to me. If a video exists -- and I suspect that one does -- can we be certain that Michelle is in it? Amateur videos are often unclear, and may be taken at a distance from the subject. Perhaps another woman at the event resembled her.

And before you leap atop your high horse, try to understand that "I suspect" does not mean "I am definitively assuring you." I remain quite open to various possibilities -- including the notion that the Republicans have engineered a fraud in order to keep Democratic infighting going until the convention.

Note that the previous sentence targets "the Republicans," not "Larry Johnson." Re-read point 4 above. The sources may or may not be reliable, but they must exist if they are talking to others as well.

At any rate, I have outlined three things you can do, if you feel eager to do something. Better to pursue a practical course of investigation than to scream "Show us the video, Larry!" mindlessly and repeatedly. He doesn't have it and never claimed to have it.

Update: The award was given in Chicago on November 2, 2007 -- before the "satanic Jews" bit. Barack Obama was in South Carolina on that date. I have no evidence of Michelle's whereabouts, but I will presume that she was with her husband.

It seems highly unlikely that she would be at any function involving Farrakhan after Barack Obama began seriously to consider the presidency.

If the "Katrina" chronological pointer has any validity, then we should look for an occasion after August 2005. At that time, the Combine still hoped to put Blagojevich, not Obama, in the White House -- thus, Michelle would have a little more freedom of association. That plan changed at some point after Blagojevich's legal troubles began in December of 2005. So we should inquire as to whether Farrakhan made an appearance at a Trinity function in the year-or-so following Katrina.

Of course, it is always possible that the email is false. In which case, Michelle may have appeared with Farrakhan much earlier. A State Senator's wife is more likely to speak foolishly than is a U.S. Senator's wife. Then again, that "proud of my country" remark was pretty damned foolish.

And of course, it is always possible that the whole business is false.


Anonymous said...

Larry is applying the rules of disinfo he learned in his years of service for the "company". (But KOS is the evil undercover agent)

What's nice with these kind of desperate attack is that nobody will hold him responsible in 5 months when such tape will never show up. Everybody will forget or he will say "I really thought it was true !".

Otherwise, you sound like a GI seeking phantom WMD in Iraq.

Btw, I heard of a video with you Joseph raping a whole class of 1st grader. I know it exists, but I can't show it. But it's real and you were pretty nasty in it. But I won't show it yet... See how easy (and cheap) it is ?

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the award to Farrakhan was given in NY City, not Chicago at the church.

Joseph Cannon said...

anon 1:20, you are a dolt.

"Larry is applying the rules of disinfo he learned in his years of service for the "company"."

Do you KNOW that? I didn't ask if you BELIEVE that; opinions are like assholes. Do you KNOW that? Can you prove it with hard evidence -- say, a confession in an email?

I don't mind speculation, as long as you label it as such. Stop presenting speculation as truth. You certainly are in no moral position to castigate anyone else for making claims without proof.

Johnson's motive would be -- WHAT?

By the way, we know that the same sources are talking to other reporters. Those reporters are treating the story much more cautiously. But we now know that the sources EXIST.

How many times have we seen this scenario, this EXACT scenario? Sources make a claim. Reporters look into the claim. They treat it skeptically and hold off publication. Meanwhile, a blogger elects not to treat the sources so cautiously and runs with the story.

One name: Lewinsky.

If the story turns out to be true, the blogger wins accolades. If the story is not true, everyone blames the blogger and not the sources who fed him bad information.

And so it goes. Has gone. Will go. Over and over, 2008, 2012, 2016...

Anon 1:26: Can you supply some further data?

Both of you guys: Is there ANYTHING I can do to get you to sign your name? Other sites practically make you list your blood type before you get to comment...

Citizen K said...

Sweetness & Light has a video of the ceremony which they report was held November 2, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency Chigago.

I haven't made a call to the Hyatt to confirm the date though.

Anonymous said...

Sounds of the Shore Trumpet Gala, November 2, 2007, Hyatt Regency Chicago


gary said...

No way that Michelle would make statements about "whitey" in December of 2007, given that she would have known Barack was going to run for President. Maybe something like Michelle saying "Why'd he let New Orleans drown?" as some of the rumors say. Dueling rumors. My guess: there is no video and the Hillary camp was behind the rumors.

Joseph Cannon said...

Thanks, guys. Now THAT is what I was looking for.

Obama was in South Carolina on that date.

Joseph Cannon said...

Hillary behind the rumors? Ridiculous. What would she have to gain?

We have now independent confirmation that the sourceS for the reports are Republicans.

Of course, you may be one of those people who think that Hillary is "in it" with the GOP. You know -- the dreaded Bush/Clinton crime family, and all that. If you believe that crap, Gary, your natural home is DU, not here.

Citizen K said...

The article doesn't say Michelle Obama was in South Carolina. Does that matter?

Ya know, looking at those church bulletins (you can delete up to "upload" in the link that icerat included), Trinity doesn't look like a bad place at all. I've been around all kinds of Christian churches. It's kind of sad that out of political expediency, Obama threw the pastor, the priest and church under the bus. Trinity has a light of right about it, kind of like the Catholic church has right, wrong and nutso stuff.

With respect to what Michelle Obama purportedly said, swap out 'whitey' for 'the man' and I'd agree.

That said, I'd still feel more comfortable with Hillary at the helm.

tas said...

Remember the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth? Remember how all Democratic strategists agreed that the lesson to be learned from that debacle was "We must respond quickly when false stories circulate"?

This odd silence compels me to consider the possibility that such a video exists.

Or the odd silence could be chalked upto the fact that nobody on the national media level is paying attention to this story, since Larry Johnson claims to have heard about it from an anonymous source who knows an anonymous source, who knows an anonymous source, etc... There is no direct sourcing here. For all anybody knows, Larry Johnson could be pulling this all out of his rectum.

This also isn't receiving backing from big money/527 groups like Swift Boat Vets did, which immediately propelled the story into the national media. The network of right wing bloggers, all constantly harping on the story, also helped propel the Swift Boat Vets lies -- but Hillary bloggers have no such network. Indeed, the other biggest Hillary blogs -- TalkLeft, Taylor Marsh, and Corrente -- have pretty much ignored Johnson's story.

And for good reason: anyone who treats this as fact stands to lose a lot of credibility. Larry Johnson hasn't dug up much here beyond rumor. He's going to need some direct, non-anonymous sources at this point (or the video itself) to salvage the story.

Joseph Cannon said...

Yeah, but reporters ARE independently looking into it. They're developing their own sources.

Doesn't mean anything will come of it, of course. We know that someone out there (other than Johnson) is saying SOMETHING -- but we can't assess their credibility at this point.

This happens all the time. We in blogworld think that mainstream journalists are totally ignoring a story. In fact, they may be all over a story -- but they will not publish unless they feel they have something utterly solid.

Again, I go back to the Monica Lewinski parallel. Drudge was not the only one with the story. He was the only one who would go public.