I don’t think I agree with this comment regarding the post about how a photograph of Senator Obama smiling next to Louis Farrakhan came to be hidden from public view until now, and how its reappearance has launched speculation on the Right that Obama was elected by a public unaware of his radical, anti-white proclivities. It is a very interesting comment, though, and raises several excellent issues about how actions, motives and truth interact. I may author a detailed rebuttal in the comments, but the core question this raises is this: To what extent does the fact that an action was taken to hide something serve as material evidence that there that something that needed to be hidden?
The results of the Ethics Alarms poll asking what the photo proved, incidentally, was that 86% of those voting believed that it proved nothing regarding Obama’s feelings to toward Farrakhan at all.
Here is johnburger2013‘s Comment of the Day on the post, The Obama-Farrakhan Photo:
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.