The Obama-Farrakhan Photo

A  photo has emerged showing former President Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator,  posing with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black nationalist Nation of Islam. Obama and the anti-white, anti-Semitic demagogue are beaming at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting in 2005. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls his organization a hate-group, but then they call a lot of organizations hate groups. I’d call the Nation of Islam a racist group that peddles hate.

Journalist Askia Muhammed, who took the photo, is publishing it in a new book called “The Autobiography of Charles 67X.” He says that after the event,  the Congressional Black Caucus contacted him and demanded to have the disk. “I gave the original disk to him and in a sense swore myself to secrecy because I had quietly made a copy for myself,” Muhammad told Fox News, adding that the CBC was concerned that a photo with Farrakhan could hurt the Obama’s Presidential prospects.

The conservative news media is writing about this, while the mainstream news media, with a few exceptions like the New Yorker, is ignoring it. Writes Vinson Cunningham, in that publication,

“[Askia] Muhammad, that anonymous C.B.C. functionary, and Farrakhan, with that faux-harmless smile, all knew it: if that picture spreads in 2007 or 2008, a whole different history ensues.”

If that’s true, then the fact that the photo was buried is news, right? But is that true? Why should it be true? Why would such a photograph mean anything at all?

I would like to see the news media deal with the episode if only to have some consensus develop about the wrongfulness of exploiting “gotcha” photographs like this. Photos of Trump and Putin have been routinely used as visual innuendo. Photos of Hillary Clinton with Harvey Weinstein have also been shown to suggest that “she knew.” There are too many examples to mention. Are elected officials and politicians now expected to refuse to take a picture with someone who has unsavory opinions, followers or positions? Does a photo-op signify endorsement or approval?

Some people seem to think so. Alan Dershowitz told Fox he would not have campaigned for Obama if he had seen the photo with Farrakhan, whom he called “virulent anti-Semite and anti-American.” The professor is right about that, but what does it have to do with a single photograph?

This seems bizarre and unfair, as does The Daily Caller’s final statement in its “bombshell report” about the photo.  “The new photo shows Obama was closer to Farrakhan than he let on,” writes Peter Hasson. What? That’s ridiculous. It proves nothing of the kind. All it proves is that someone said, “Hey, Senator, give us s photo!” and Obama complied. Dershowitz is letting his emotions eat his brain, and the “gotcha!” game of using photographs for guilt-by-association character assassination is both unethical and dumb.

Or do you disagree? Here’s a poll:


31 thoughts on “The Obama-Farrakhan Photo

          • I’d be concerned if anything remotely analogous to a “Congressional White Caucus” existed in our country. I can also see the argument that in today’s society, the Congressional Black Caucus should come to an end as well. I am certainly concerned that the Congressional Black Caucus ever found Louis Farrakhan a worthwhile guest.

            • Good.

              Not to open a can of worms, but I would submit that there has never been a time that a “Congressional Black Caucus” is a good thing for the Republic.

              Simultaneously, we can chalk up general ignorance about why a CBC is inherently as unethical as a CWC would be as to why it would be harder for Obama or the CBC to think it amiss to have Farrakhan but find it easier to recognize why a CWC would be remiss to have a David Duke or Richard Spencer.

              1) There should be no “race based” caucuses. They are inherently unethical.

              2) Race based caucuses should not invite virulent racists and race-separatists to their functions.

              3) It’s easy to miss the problem with a Black Caucus because we’ve become very comfortable as a society permitting them to carve out many protected sections of the community for themselves.

              4) It’s easy to simultaneously downplay the problem with Farrakhan with the CBC while being substantially bothered by the problem with a Duke or Spencer at a CWC because we’ve become very comfortable as a society tolerating racism and separatism preached by blacks than preached by whites.

              There’s many problems with this whole evaluation, but your overall assessment is acceptable.

              • I think the CBC was certainly ethical when it was founded in 1969. If a race is actually being oppressed in the way blacks were at this time, forming a unified front based on that racial identity isn’t unethical. But that time is, thankfully, passed, and the CBC looks more like a relic every day.

                • You shifted the topic. We aren’t talking about a race being oppressed. That’s too general.

                  We’re talking about elected leaders, who by definition are not oppressed, within the microcosm of the Senate Floor and the House of Representatives….forming a racially exclusive clique that notionally plans to vote in general concord with each other.

                  Not ethical.

                  • You don’t think a few powerful members of an otherwise oppressed race might have reason to band together to ensure their race becomes less oppressed?

                    • They were expressly not elected to represent their race, but to represent their district. If the voters voted for them to represent their race or they campaigned to represent their race then they have engaged in violence against the constitution and severely undermined all non blacks in their districts.

                      This is a racist way of viewing elections.

                      Would you characterize them as being elected to represent black people instead of representing their districts?

                  • “Hi, I’m Joe, a newly-minted senator from Connecticut. I’d very much like to join your fine organization!”
                    “Well, I’m afraid you can’t”
                    “Oh? And why not?”
                    “Well,sir, you’re white”.
                    Imagine reversing the races in this exchange!

          • So, the CBC invited Louis Farrakhan to speak and Senator Obama decides to go. Then he has his picture taken with him. The ‘reporter’ gives up the photo to the CBC because they immediately know how bad that looks. The reporter states that he understood that this picture can’t get out because it will hurt Obama’s chances. If the picture got out, people might investigate and find that Obama had Nation of Islam members working on his staff in Chicago and his Senate staff. He also said that people might find that the Nation of Islam helped him during his Senate campaign. That combined with his admiration for and membership in Jeremiah Wright’s church might turn some people off. Note that this wasn’t some secret event. No other media outlet reported that the CBC hosted Louis Farrakhan and Senator Obama went?

            It is an important story because of the double standard and the media coverup. If the media had knowledge that Donald Trump had known KKK members working on his staff, that the KKK had helped organize his campaign, that he knowingly went to a meeting with a prominent white supremacist and posed for a photo with him, and that his longtime minister and role model was an overt racist, would they ALL have buried the story? What else did the media know about Obama that they hid from the public? It is another example of why we can’t trust the so-called ‘journalists’ these days. That is the significance.

            • You are correct. Think about the hoopla generated by then-candidate Trump not distancing himself from support offered by the likes of David Duke, Nazis, and idiots in the Klan. He was pilloried for his failure to denounce them.


  1. “Why would such a photograph mean anything at all?”

    Maybe there’s no “there” there, but the photographer thinks it would have been a gamechanger.

    “The Photo That Never Saw The Light of Day: Obama With Farrakhan In 2005″

    ”(Photographer Askia) Muhammad said a ‘staff member’ for the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) contacted him ‘sort of in a panic’ after he took the photo at a caucus meeting in 2005. TPM has published the photo above with Muhammad’s permission.

    “(I) gave the picture up at the time and basically swore secrecy.

    “But after the nomination was secured and all the way up until the inauguration; then for eight years after he was President, it was kept under cover.

    ”Asked whether he thought the photo’s release would have affected Obama’s presidential campaign, Muhammad said, ‘I insist. It absolutely would have made a difference.’ ” (bolds mine)

    Or maybe Farrakhan was just someone from the neighborhood, like Bill Ayers.

  2. “I’d call the Nation of Islam a racist group that peddles hate.”

    Side topic – I find it interesting that between the equally virulent messages of little white nationalist idiots like Richard Spencer and black nationalist idiots like Louis Farrakhan, though Spencer manages an attendance of a few hundred morons and Farrakhan tens of thousands, who gets the most media coverage as a wacky dangerous fringe movement?

  3. Frankly, I doubt it would have made a difference. Had it been released, it might have even increased the white vote for Obama. The whole Reverend Wright thing didn’t kill Obama’s campaign. Anyone who said the photo showed Obama was a Nation of Islam supporter or sympathizer would have been shown the racist card and sent off the field. Even mentioning the photo, never mind saying it meant anything, would have been verboten. The same way challenging the collusion narrative is now labeled “muddying the waters” or “laying down a smoke screen.” It would have been dismissed in a single news cycle.

  4. I think you missed an option in the poll…that once again, the cover up is worse than the crime.

    I doubt very much that this photo would have meant much in the 2008 election (even to the Dersh). Certainly no more than other unsavory associations that were routinely pointed out by the Clinton camp—I mean, those evil republicans. It’s the fact that the photo was deliberately hidden for over a decade that gives it legs and promotes the outrage (or at least irritation).

  5. Photos of people together mean nothing. I understand Professor Derschowitz’s perspective and he is entitled to draw whatever conclusions he wishes.

    Guilt by association lacks specificity. Trump and Schumer are photographed together each beaming smiles. No photo captures the individual’s ideology or behavior unless the photo depicts the individuals in support of the unsavory ideology, but even then you need words to put the photo in context.

  6. Methinks our faithful ethics blogger is being, according to our friends across the pond, a bit “cheeky”, hoping to inspire a lively debate, knowing fully well that a photo of Trump with David Duke would be conclusive evidence that the present Chief Executive Officer of the US is merely waiting for his hood to come back from the cleaners so that he can don it and go out for a fun night on the town.

    For me, the real ethics issue is not the photo, but that Congressional Black Caucus leaned on a journalist to kill its publication and the journalist capitulated. Other Bill, VPJ and Charles Marschner are correct: publication of the photo (probably) would not have changed the 2008 election results.

    But, let’s ask the bigger question: Why kill it?

    First, who is Askia Muhammad? According to Wikipedia, he is a poet, journalist, radio producer, commentator, and a photojournalist. He has served as the editor of Muhammad Speaks and as the head of the Washington office of The Final Call, the official newspapers of the Nation of Islam, which incidentally, is the organization headed by the right-honorable Louis Farrakhan, from Chicago, IL. (Who else was from Chicago? Might it have been a little-known senator but rising star in the Democrat party? Hmmm.)

    Now, then, we have a journalist and photojournalist with deep and direct ties to Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam (declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization Progressives love to cite when declaring someone despicable), taking a photo of Farrakhan and a rising star Obama in 2005. Yet, rather than distributing the photo far and wide, the virtuous Mr. Muhammad gave it to the CBC without question (though he did make a copy – that little scamp). He published it when he was checking out his Facebook feed and that memory from 2005 popped and he said, “Well, that’s a nice picture of Minister Farrakhan, but who is that delightfully handsome fellow next to him? Maybe I should publish it and ask around. Someone’s got to know who that is. He might have a bright future some day. You never know.”

    He killed the photo because the CBC demanded that he kill it. Yet, he is not just a photojournalist, according to his Twitter page, but as a journalist. Wikipedia defines as journalist as a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information to the public. A journalist’s work is called journalism. A journalist can work with general issues or specialize in certain issues. However, most journalists tend to specialize, and by cooperating with other journalists, produce journals that span many topics. (Don’t yell at me, it is a link from his Wikipedia page to the definition of journalist on Wikipedia, so it must be true.)

    Wikipedia also says that journalists sometimes expose themselves to danger, particularly when reporting in areas of armed conflict or in states that do not respect the freedom of the press. Additionally, the relationship between a professional journalist and a source can be rather complex; a source can actually impact the direction of the article written by the journalist. The article ‘A Compromised Fourth Estate’ uses Herbert Gans’ metaphor to capture their relationship.

    Wikipedia, again: “Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that employs images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (e.g., documentary photography, social documentary photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by complying with a rigid ethical framework which demands that the work be both honest and impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms. Photojournalists create pictures that contribute to the news media, and help communities connect with one other. Photojournalists must be well informed and knowledgeable about events happening right outside their door. They deliver news in a creative format that is not only informative, but also entertaining.” So, a photojournalist is a subset of journalist. That seems pretty impressive, eh?

    So, what I understand is that Muhammad is a journalist and not just some guy with a camera running around taking birthday party photos for the scrapbook. Surely not. He is important, part of a discipline. A profession. With rules and ethics and stuff. Yet, when called upon by the CBC, he sat on a photo, and in the greatest of journalism ethics, not only did he squash the photo, he turned it over the CBC. Got that? A journalist took a news-worthy photo of Obama with Farrakhan, and turned it over to the CBC.

    Who is the CBC? The Congressional Black Caucus is a political organization made up of the African-American members of the United States Congress. While race and party affiliation are not official requirements for membership, all of its members have been African American and most have been Democrats. Its chair is Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana. (Yeah, I know. Wikipedia again.)

    Now, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Tex., has said: “The Congressional Black Caucus is one of the world’s most esteemed bodies, with a history of positive activism unparalleled in our nation’s history. Whether the issue is popular or unpopular, simple or complex, the CBC has fought for thirty years to protect the fundamentals of democracy. Its impact is recognized throughout the world. The Congressional Black Caucus is probably the closest group of legislators on the Hill. We work together almost incessantly, we are friends and, more importantly, a family of freedom fighters. Our diversity makes us stronger, and the expertise of all of our members has helped us be effective beyond our numbers.” Rep. Bernice Johnson clearly understands the role of the CBC; after all, she was its 17th Chairperson.

    So, her group called upon a journalist to squelch a story that may have a negative impact on Obama’s political aspirations. And the journalist agreed.

    That, then, leads to the next question: Why did the CBC demand possession of the photo and forbid its publication? Who, what or why did the CBC have to fear? Tic toc. Could it be that, perhaps, Obama’s true political alliances, ties and positions were far more radical than many people knew or were led to believe? After all, he cavorted with Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dorn and the good Reverend Wright, all of whom are very hard-left icons, but dismissed by the CNNS as political outliers or political expedients for a Chicago area politician.

    Would Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have been a death sentence for his political future? Quite possibly – look at what Prof. Dershowitz said. Could liberal New York and West Coast donors have supported Obama if it were widely known that he had ties to an admitted anti-Semite and foe of Israel? Would the Clinton Campaign have hung that photo around his proverbial neck if they had it? No. Never. Uh-uh. Forget it.

    Additionally, could it also mean the CBC, Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam are far more closely connected than we know? After all, why would the CBC care about a photo op with a neophyte Illinois senator smiling with the Minister? Either way you shift that picture, it has broader implications. For instance, did Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam play a larger role in the Obama Administration policies? (Yeah, I know – I will be putting on my tinfoil hat in a few minutes because the Illuminati are scanning my brainwaves, or what’s left of them.)

    So, yeah, killing the photo is a big deal and not just because that bozo Sean Hannity says it is.


  7. Those ears!
    I know what the other guys in the picture are saying: “Well, I be done seen about everything, till I seen an elephant flyyyyy! Till I seen an El-e-phant…. flyyy!”

  8. Just to be honest, I’d be a WHOLE lot more upset (well, no, not really) about this photo were I not pretty familiar with the power of Photoshop.

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