Stanley Kurtz's appearance on the Milt Rosenberg radio program in Chicago last night provided an unsettling look into the authoritarian tactics being employed by the Obama campaign to stifle and intimidate its critics.
I happened to be in the WGN studios for the entire affair because my friend, Zack Christenson, produces the show in question. He was aware of my previous reporting on the Obama-Ayers connection and kindly invited me to sit in on the two-hour interview. (For full disclosure, I work for two other radio stations in Chicago, WIND, and WYLL).
As I arrived at the downtown Chicago studios a few hours before show time, the phones began ringing off the hook with irate callers demanding Kurtz be axed from the program. It didn't take long to discover that the Obama campaign—which had declined invitations to join the show for its duration to offer rebuttals to Kurtz's points—had sent an "Obama Action Wire" e-mail to its supporters, encouraging them to deluge the station with complaints.
Why? Because, naturally, Kurtz is a "right-wing hatchet man," a "smear merchant" and a "slimy character assassin" who is perpetrating one of the "most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack."
Evidently, much of Obama nation is composed of obedient and persistent sheep. They jammed all five studio lines for nearly the entire show while firing off dozens of angry emails. Many vowed to kick their grievances up the food chain to station management. After 90 minutes of alleged smear peddling, Milt Rosenberg (a well-respected host whose long-form interview show has aired in Chicago for decades) opened the phone lines, and blind ignorance soon began to crackle across the AM airwaves. The overwhelming message was clear: The interview must be put to an end immediately, and the station management should prevent similar discussions from taking place.
One female caller, when pressed about what precisely she objected to, simply replied, "We just want it to stop!" Another angry caller was asked what "lies" Kurtz had told in any of his reporting on Barack Obama. The thoughtful response? "Everything he said is dishonest." The same caller later refused to get into "specifics." Another gentleman called Kurtz "the most un-American person" he'd ever heard. Several of the callers did not even know Stanley's name, most had obviously never read a sentence of his meticulous research, and more than simply read verbatim from the Obama talking points.
As Rosenberg repeatedly pointed out that Team Obama had been offered the opportunity to take part in the conversation, the agitated masses adapted their argument to suggest it was outrageous to request an interview from the Obama campaign in the thick of the DNC. Delivering the line of the night, Rosenberg countered, "The Obama national headquarters is just down the street from here. They obviously have the time to send out these angry emails, but they can't walk a few blocks to our studios?"
Throughout the open-line segments, Rosenberg and Kurtz wore incredulous expressions. The hostile callers were so bereft of any legitimate argument, there was little to do but sit back and marvel at what was going on.
The experience was surreal, amusing, and chilling. In a matter of hours, a major national campaign had called on its legions to bully a radio show out of airing an interview with a legitimate scholar asking legitimate political questions. Coupled with the Obama campaign's recent attempts to sic the DOJ on the creators of a truthful political advertisement —which also happened to feature Obama's relationship with an unrepentant terrorist— last night's call to action represents an emerging pattern. Any criticism of Obama's unknown past is to be immediately denounced as a "smear," and the messenger is to be shut down at all costs.
Stanley Kurtz is poring through mounds of documents (access to which was initially blocked) in a public university's library that (a) establish a deeper link between a major party presidential nominee and a man who is proud of bombing US government buildings, and (b) shed light on said candidate's brief, unexplored executive experience. It's entirely understandable why the Obama campaign would prefer that the files remain out of the public eye until at least November 5, but Kurtz's careful research is completely within the bounds of reasonable inquiry. One might even argue it's vital that a man who may be the next leader of the free world be thoroughly vetted.
Team Obama is fast becoming the campaign that cried "smear." They labeled the National Right to Life committee "liars" for providing evidence of some unpleasant facts about their candidate's record on a series of infanticide votes. This tendency to lash out and engage in baseless name-calling not only smacks of desperation; it also may foreshadow an Obama presidency's strategy in handling unfavorable media reports and sources.
If anyone still believes reinstating the Fairness Doctrine isn't a top priority for the American Left, last night's example offered a stark and alarming wake-up call. Still not convinced? For goodness sake, read Jonah's book.
UPDATE: Here is the podcast of the full show.