SAN DIEGO, October 5, 2012 ― The line between political speech and public consequences is often blurry, if not complex. Many politicians mean well, but effect risky policies and laws that have unintended consequences.
Americans are a rich and multi-faceted people. Many people, including physicians of all backgrounds, demand more than platitudes when it comes to their careers and the well-being of their patients. In the setting of elections and the massive overhaul of the American medical system through Obamacare, it is just as valuable to know what is said as it is to uncover what is being hidden.
Flashback to the 2008 Presidential campaign between Obama and McCain: “The Los Angeles Times did not publish the [2003 Palestine Liberation Organization fundraiser] videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it,” said the newspaper’s editor, Russ Stanton. “The Times keeps its promises to sources.”
Apparently, Americans will never see the 2003 video in which touted “Barack Hussein Obama” and his wife, Michelle, are seen cavorting in an openly anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, anti-American milieu at the P.L.O. event. The LA Times, which purportedly holds the only copy, refuses to release it so that it may retain its journalistic integrity and keep its promise to the original source.
Using the same logic as the LA Times, it would seem appropriate that an individual who feared personal harm or career-damaging actions would likewise seek protection for his ‘story’ of that same event. Such an individual exists.
Amongst the many private American citizens, there was an individual who, along with the President, attended that same P.L.O. event. He is a Middle Eastern physician who has offered to provide his perspective with only one caveat: that his identity remain private.
Ironically, this source denies any negative feelings against Obama the person; frankly, he quite likes him. However, he agreed to allow his story to be told so that his one “beef” with the President is “aired in the name of honesty.” We will call him Doctor Wally for the sake of this article.
Doctor Wally sat nearby Barack Obama during the event, and claims he even shook his hand. He could not overhear the private conversation between Obama and those sitting next to him, but he does confirm that our now-President of the United States was amiable, “smiling and even laughing” when “blatant anti-American slurs were voiced around him.”
To some, this P.L.O. fundraiser setting would not seem unlike the 20-year history of Obama sitting in the same church with the controversial and anti-American Reverend Wright.
Doctor Wally has one question for the President today: “If you believe in free speech, Mr. Obama, then come clean with doctors your real plans for the U.S. health system if you are re-elected…your Affordable Care Act was made in secret and passed with questionable ethics…please level with us about your plans to provide millions of extra patients with an insurance card without the trained doctors available to care for them.”
This physician goes on to explain: “…I grew up in a society where people died unnecessarily and suffered needlessly because of dangerous [town] doctors who were never trained in medical school…I lost family members to these villains…I want to know if you are aware of the path you are leading us down, because it leads to a similar place.”
Apparently, until it is politically neutral, profitable, or the source gives permission, the LA Times will not release the video of then Senator Barack Obama speaking of his friendship for Palestinian activist, Rashid Khalidi, at this Palestine Liberation Organization fundraiser in 2003.
Despite essentially praising the liberal website Mother Jones private video of Mitt Romney’s “47%” ― itself taken at a fundraiser ― and writing countless blogs and articles about the negative implications of the words of Obama’s challenger, Republican Mitt Romney, the LA Times feels its status as a distinguished news outlet is untarnished by not releasing the Obama-P.L.O. video.
Since a picture speaks a thousand words, and a video is potentially more powerful yet, many question the ethics and reporting neutrality of the LA Times on this issue. Simply releasing a transcript is seen by many as wholly unacceptable on such a prescient and pressing topic to the 2012 Presidential campaign.
In light of Obama’s promise to run an ethical administration, and the extremely polarized and biased nature of the reporting by most media entities in favor of the President, it would only be fitting for him to at least openly speak himself in favor of this video’s release. Who knows, perhaps the video will eventually even vindicate the President to his critics.
THE JOURNALISTIC CONTEXT
At the height of the Cold War, the Washington Post grappled with a decision to publish a piece about a secret listening device that the U.S. Navy/intelligence service had installed over a Soviet underseas cable. (Anecdotally, this author is aware of these surveillance measures because his own father spent an entire post-military career doing just this type of work for the government over the course of three decades.)
This secret military-CIA device allowed the United States to learn where Soviet submarines were located in the ‘needle in the haystack’ scenario that makes up the covert world of submarine warfare. Nuclear submarines, making up part of the ‘nuclear triad’ (airplanes, silos and subs) remain crucial to America’s defensive and offensive wartime strategy.
In the case of the Washington Post, executive editor Ben Bradlee chose not to run this Russian spying story on the grounds of national security. Later, it became known that the Soviets had discovered the presence of the listening device and “…it was no longer a matter of national security. It was a matter of national embarrassment,” Bradlee was quoted as saying.
The Washington Post decided to ultimately run the story against the will of the sitting administration in the White House.
WHAT IS THERE TO HIDE?
In the case of President Obama’s ‘secret’ P.L.O. video, it would be interesting to hear what convincing argument could be made to keep it sequestered in the name of U.S. national security or any other national issue for that matter.
And, as a tie-in to America’s health system debate, Doctor Wally’s question is not only germane, but also essential to a full understanding of the patient care ramifications of Obamacare.
We cannot control the LA Times, and we certainly cannot ask the President of the United States to consider putting aside his political aspirations for re-election so close to the November election.
It would be refreshing, however, for the President to answer Dr. Wally’s simple concern about healthcare reform face-to-face with the average voter—specifically, can the quality of America’s medical system be sustained under the weight of the Obamacare law?
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