Just before he died last week, media provocateur Andrew Breitbart teased his readers and followers by saying that he had "never-before-shown" video of Barack Obama during his college days.
The right wing, teased into a tizzy by Breitbart, went full into speculation mode. Was it Barry Osama bin Obama doing drugs with Bill Ayers? Could he have been making sweet love with Saul Alinsky? What was it?
No. It turns out that it is a video showing Barack Obama, speaking at a small rally in support of Professor Derrick Bell, a black constitutional law professor, who was seeking to get Harvard to tenure more minority and women law professors. It was 1990, and Obama was in law school at the time (the first black president of the Harvard Review), not college.
Ooooooh. Radical stuff.
The video was relased yesterday by Buzzfeed, scooping Breitbart. Breitbart's people then claimed that the released video was "selectively edited".
Finally, a REAL news organization, the one that actually SHOT the video in 1990, stepped in. A little thing called PBS Frontline:
The web is abuzz today about video of a speech Barack Obama gave in 1990 (some reports have incorrectly identified the speech as occurring in 1991) at Harvard Law School defending the actions of Professor Derrick Bell. Bell, the law school’s first tenured black professor, had protested Harvard’s failure to offer tenure to women of color as law school professors. Online publisher Andrew Breitbart, who died last week, had said he possessed the speech and hinted that he would release it, arguing that it provided evidence that Obama has long held radical political beliefs.
Today, the website BuzzFeed published a clip of the speech along with an article explaining some past and current context for Obama’s remarks. The website claimed the clip was “not previously available online.” The editors at Breitbart.com responded that the video on Buzzfeed had been “selectively edited” and said that they would release the full footage tonight on Fox News.
But there’s nothing new about the clip or Obama’s role in the controversy at Harvard Law School. In 2008, as a part of our quadrennial election special The Choice 2008, FRONTLINE ran the same footage of the speech as a part of an exploration of Obama’s time at Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1991. It’s been online at our site and on YouTube since then.
So apparently Breitbart's "exclusive" video of Obama back in 1990, has been around — even online! — since 2008. Great scoop, morons at Breitbart.
And by the way, what the video shows of Obama is positive. He's articulate and engaging (yes, without teleprompters!). Here is the video:
Scandalous. Obama calling for diversity at Harvard Law.
The larger "unedited" video (at the PBS link above) shows the full news piece, but Obama isn't in any of it (except briefly in one crowd shot).
Somehow not shamed by their utter failure, the right is now trying to paint Professor Derrick Bell, now deceased, as some kind of radical. He wasn't. I knew him. He taught at NYU law school when I was there, one year after this video was shot. He was smart. He was affible. He cared about equality and justice. Now, to many on the right, a black man who cares about equality and justice IS a "radical". But to most normal people, Obama's loose affiliation with Bell is not a scar at all.
But watch and laugh as Sean Haniity and Michelle "Twitchy" Malkin try to hype this up: