John McCain’s presidential campaign Tuesday accused the Los Angeles Times of “intentionally suppressing” a videotape it obtained of a 2003 banquet where then-state Sen. Barack Obama spoke of his friendship with Rashid Khalidi, a leading Palestinian scholar and activist.
The Times first reported on the videotape in an April 2008 story about Obama’s ties with Palestinians and Jews as he navigated the politics of Chicago. The report included a detailed description of the tape, but the newspaper did not make the video public.
“A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi,” said McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb. " . . . The election is one week away, and it’s unfortunate that the press so obviously favors Barack Obama that this campaign must publicly request that the Los Angeles Times do its job -- make information public.”
The Times on Tuesday issued a statement about its decision not to post the tape.
“The Los Angeles Times did not publish the 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.”
Jamie Gold, the newspaper’s readers’ representative, said in a statement: “More than six months ago the Los Angeles Times published a detailed account of the events shown on the videotape. The Times is not suppressing anything. Just the opposite -- the L.A. Times brought the matter to light.”
The original article said that Obama’s friendships with Palestinian Americans in Chicago and his presence at Palestinian community events had led some to think he was sympathetic to the Palestinian viewpoint on Middle East politics. Obama publicly expresses a pro-Israel viewpoint that pleases many Jewish leaders.
In reporting on Obama’s presence at the dinner for Khalidi, the article noted that some speakers expressed anger at Israel and at U.S. foreign policy, but that Obama in his comments called for finding common ground.
It said that Khalidi in the 1970s often spoke to reporters on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Khalidi later lived near Obama while teaching at the University of Chicago. He is now a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University in New York.