FINAL UPDATE: On 6/5/08, Barack Obama personally denied the existence of any Michelle Obama Rant Tape, as reported by Ben Smith Politico.com today. With today’s statements to the press, he has now gone on record saying neither he nor Michelle ever said anything like what’s been rumored to be on the tape. As the candidate selected by the DNC to lead the party into the General Election this fall, Obama must be taken on his word, because of the high level of trust and confidence placed in him by Howard Dean and the other leaders of the Democratic Party, who know best, and who would not have bet everything on Obama’s honesty and candor in all matters present and historic. Remember: Obama has promised to be a new kind of politician, focused on a new kind of politics, and this promise precludes him from ever lying to the media. If Obama says no tape exists, then it must in fact not exist, because he would not risk his credibility (and the outcome of this fall’s election) by saying there is absolutely no recordings of any kind of either himself or his wife saying anything at all like what’s been rumored at NoQuarterUSA.net. He also would not risk saying there is no possibility for this tape to exist, knowing Republicans could in fact have it, because that would make a devastatingly effective 527 ad in the fall: with a side-by-side playing of the tape, followed by his denial, capped off with more footage from the tape, and sprinkled with that creepy music and blunt narration all GOP ads have. Obama would never lie about something like this, because if caught in a lie of this magnitude by the GOP, he knows he would suffer an electoral defeat on a McGovern-level, taking the majority of down-ticket Democrats with him (because, frankly, if the GOP made “flip flop” such an effective campaign-killer against Kerry in 2004, imagine what they would do with something this explosive…the Democrats would lose Congress while the GOP keeps the White House, which is absolutely unthinkable in 2008). Obama and his campaign are much too smart to fall into that obvious a trap. As they are wont to say, they outfoxed the Clinton Machine, so therefore they (and the DNC) must know what they are doing. So, logically, the Michelle Obama Rant Tape must then not exist and any efforts to find it would be a complete waste of time, money, and energy, especially in regards to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference held in Chicago in 2004. If Obama says the tape does not exist, it must then not exist, and the clues pieced together below from various online and Chicago sources lead to absolutely nothing. Even though journalists have not been able to describe what Michelle Obama DID say at the Conference’s panel discussion, we are today certain those remarks are 100% meaningless, because Barack Obama says they are.
NOTE: Here’s what was known about the “Michelle Obama Rant Tape” issue before Barack Obama forcefully denied the existence of any such tape on 6/5/08 (Edited 6/5/08 to reflect the fact Obama himself said this tape is not real). We will update this thread as new information comes in, but we expect no more information because Barack Obama has stated there is NO TAPE (Edited 6/5/08 to reflect the fact that Obama should be taken 100% at his word, as the candidate selected to represent the DNC in the fall). As we have repeated several times, we have never seen the Michelle Obama Rant Tape ourselves — we started researching this about 4 weeks ago when we first caught rumors of a tape of Michelle ranting and raving and making remarks that were consistently called “stunning”. When we heard the GOP already had this tape, and it was most likely Giuliani’s opposition research team that found it, we tried to figure out where and when something like this could have been filmed. The only tools at our disposal were Google, the public library, and longtime residents of Chicago who have long, strong memories.
Obama has insisted on many occasions that Michelle is his most trusted and senior advisor: therefore, anything she thinks and says has great importance, because he has stated himself she is a tremendous influence on him and his decisions. That’s why this tape matters, and that’s why it’s important to look for it now instead of waiting for the Republicans to bring this out whenever THEY choose. Democrats never seem to learn this lesson: if there is something damaging a Democratic candidate knows is out there, he needs to bring it forward and expose it himself to the American public. Gore, Kerry, and Dukakis all thought they could hide their heads in the sand and not face up to the critical flaws in their candidacies — and they were all defeated because the Republicans do opposition research, while Democrats do not. Opposition research is boring and time consuming and not a lot of fun — but when it turns up something like a tape of a candidate’s spouse spouting hateful things in public, it’s obvious why the GOP invests their time in it (Swiftboating, Willie Horton, you name it).
After spending almost all free time Googling every possible combination of words and dates related to this tape and spending hours going through old newspapers at the library, these are the clues we were able to piece together on what we believe the GOP has in terms of the “Michelle Obama Rant Tape”:
The Michelle Obama Rant Tape was filmed between June 26th – July 1st 2004 in Chicago, IL at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago, specifically the women’s panel (Update and Note: the location was originally stated as “Trinity” in everything we heard, but it’s now become clear the tape could have only been filmed at the Sheraton during this conference. The Sheraton makes a lot more sense, and the setup of a panel discussion is exactly what’s been described as being on the tape. It’s smart to wonder if any Sheraton banquet employees remember this, because during a panel discussion of that size, there would be plenty of staff moving around in one of those banquet rooms).
Michelle Obama appeared as a panelist alongside Mrs. Khadijah Farrakhan and Mrs. James Meeks.
Bill Clinton spoke during the Conference, as did Bill Cosby and other speakers, but not at the panel Michelle attended.
Michelle Obama spoke at the “Women’s Event”, but referenced Bill Clinton in her rant — his presence at the conference was the impetus for her raving, it seems. (Update and Note: it’s been referred to as the “Women’s Event”, which on the Conference agenda seems to be a luncheon, with panel discussion; there could have been another “Women’s Event” that was not on the agenda, perhaps an event for the wives of speakers attending other events. Large conferences typically have events for the wives of speakers, and these are not always put onto the agendas sent to the public. This will, we’re sure, become clearer the more people look into the Conference and when exactly Michelle made her panel appearance).
For about 30 minutes, Michelle Obama launched into a rant about the evils of America, and how America is to blame for the problems of Africa. Michelle personally blamed President Clinton for the deaths of millions of Africans and said America is responsible for the genocide of the Tutsis and other ethnic groups. She then launched into an attack on “whitey”, and talked about solutions to black on black crime in the realm of diverting those actions onto white America. Her rant was fueled by the crowd: they reacted strongly to what she said, so she got more passionate and enraged, and that’s when she completely loses it and says things that have made the mouths drop of everyone who’s seen this.
* Update and Note: Thinking back to 2004, and the period surrounding the Democratic Convention, several of us here in Chicago remember hearing something about the wife of a politician who said nasty things about Bill Clinton shortly before the Democratic Convention. At the time, we didn’t pay any attention to this, because we had no idea who the wife was (Michelle) or who her husband was (Barack); even after he gave his keynote address, we didn’t really pay any attention to the issue of this “wife of a politician” saying hateful things about Bill Clinton and Africa shortly before the Democratic Convention. However, in the last week or so, once the connections started being made that (1) the GOP was rumored to have a tape of Michelle ranting and raving, (2) the tape mentioned President Clinton, and (3) the tape was from 2004, the pieces fit together and we realized the person who we remembered saying horrible things about President Clinton in Chicago shortly before the Democratic Convention in 2004 was actually Michelle Obama (someone we had never heard of at the time).
Following up on this, we spoke with several people — 5, to be exact — who were in Chicago in the summer of 2004: 2 of whom went to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference (but who did NOT attend any women’s event). Each of them remembered hearing something about what was said (as noted above) about President Clinton, Africa, and the rest — by what really does appear to be Michelle Obama. YouTube was not around back in 2004, at least not like it is today, so we have no idea if there is a way to check for all the Chicago local and national media news broadcasts for any mention of “the wife of a Senate candidate” saying these negative things about President Clinton.
Several of us also remember hearing a very short blurb about this on the news that summer, but completely dismissed the comments against Clinton at the time because they are so ridiculous in light of all the Clinton Global Initiative has done for Africa. That’s actually why this has all stuck in our minds for 4 years: the incongruous fact that someone would say these horrible things about a man who built a global foundation to address the very issues this person rantedand raved about. Now, we noted all of this information in the last few paragraphs in this update because people have been asking all day how we know what details are on the tape — the only reason we didn’t spell this all out when we first made the post was because, frankly, just look at how long it has taken to show you why, exactly, we believe this panel discussion with Michelle is THE tape the GOP is waiting to use. It is an awful lot of explanation, and ultimately it boils down to people remembering what they heard 4 years ago, and it all making sense only now in light of the events of the past four weeks or so. Before you jump to criticism, remember that’s the whole POINT in looking for the video of Michelle’s panel discussion at this Conference. Either a group of people remember this incorrectly from the days surrounding the 2004 Convention, or that tape will be the “Michelle Obama Rant Tape” that’s being talked about at great length right now.
The “tape” is a DVD that Trinity United sold on its website, and possibly offered free for download up until March 2008 when Trinity’s site was scrubbed and the DVDs were no longer offered for sale. (Update and Note: “Trinity” here is also what’s consistently been repeated from day one about this “tape”; we believe the “tape” is actually a DVD and have called it a DVD here because in 2004 VHS was already being phased out, so it’s doubtful this recording was an actual “tape”. People just use the word “tape” to refer to recordings of events. Getting bogged down in the semantics of “tape” and DVD is silly — we assume “tape” and DVD are one and the same in this matter. There is a good question of whether it was Trinity that had the DVD for sale or the Conference organizers on another website, or if it was just a download, or if it was both for sale and a download, or if just Trinity or just the Conference organizers or both had it for sale. That’s not been determined yet. But, it has been consistently said that a GOP opposition research team got ahold of this “tape”, and got it by either purchasing it or downloading it online. It’s an established fact that prior to Jeremiah Wright’s emergence as an issue in this campaign, a large number of videos were available for both sale and download that have since been removed. The same is true for other sites that had this same content. Someone deliberately removed all that material because they realized there were things on those tapes that would harm the Obama campaign. If not, then why were the tapes removed from sale or download?).
This outburst happened just one month before the 2004 Democratic Convention, when Barack Obama delivered the keynote address.
UPDATED: It seems really easy for Chicago local media, especially, to determine whether or not this is the right tape of Michelle Obama. All they need to do is pull the tape from this 2004 Conference (particularly the panel Michelle was on), which should be readily available (since this was a very large multi-day event). All a journalist needs to do is watch this tape: if this is not the right one, they’d know immediately and this issue would be debunked. But, logically, this seems to be the most likely source of the tape people have been talking about at NoQuarterUSA.net
UPDATE #2: It’s also being reported that ABC-7 news anchors moderated a panel at the Conference that appears to be the one Michelle Obama participated in. If so, then it’s reasonable to believe ABC-7 in Chicago has footage from the panel discussion. It’s also been consistently said on the blogs since word of this “tape” first broke that a network has the footage and is sitting on it — and that the network in question is ABC. Once again, if ABC-7 does have tape from this panel discussion, they could solve this mystery today by releasing it all on their website — particularly the 30 minutes or so of Michelle Obama speaking — so we can see once and for all exactly what she said that day. The ABC-7 anchors who moderated could also come out and definitively say what Michelle Obama said on the panel (or Michelle could come out herself and recount what she said). That would get to the bottom of this.
UPDATE #3: On 06/05/08, Larry Johnson at NoQuarterUSA.net reported:
It also is curious that the Obama folks put out the word that Michelle didn’t say “WHITEY”. Nope, according to them she said, “WHY DID HE.” Hmmmm. Why would you put that out if the recording of the event did not exist? Then you have the frantic scrubbing of Trinity websites. How about efforts to check the video files of Chicago TV stations? Stymied. The local ABC station says they will only give up a video if there is a subpoena.
FINAL UPDATE: As noted at the very top of what’s evolved into an incredibly long post, this effort was undertaken by amateurs who are not journalists, and do not have the resources or staff to locate the footage from Michelle Obama’s 2004 panel discussion to determine if anything shocking was said there. We just pieced together the most plausible strands from the rumors we heard online, spent a lot of time in the library and on Google looking for an event that would have afforded Michelle Obama an opportunity to deliver a rant like the one described, and spoke with people in Chicago who, like us, remembered a politician’s wife making remarks like this before the Democratic Convention in 2004. That’s what led us, after 4 weeks of research, to Michelle Obama’s appearance at the 2004 Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Convention in Chicago. Only journalists can take this train further, and find the actual remarks Michelle Obama made that day — which is moot now, because on 6/5/08 Barack Obama said his wife never made any offensive remarks, and he would never in a million years lie about something like this. So, no tape exists, and a journalist would be foolish to apply pressure to get the footage from that event, because they won’t find a single thing on it, according to Obama himself — who never lies. And, even though journalists gleefully spent considerable time looking for footage of Hillary Clinton in Bosnia with children to embarrass her and contradict remarks she made to the media, those same journalists should not, of course, invest any time in finding the footage of Michelle Obama at this 2004 panel discussion, because, once again, Barack Obama has said emphatically there is just no reason to do that. And, lastly, of course the fact ABC-7 in Chicago is refusing to release its tapes of Michelle Obama at the 2004 Conference without a subpeona PROVES there is nothing of interest at all on those tapes, as it makes perfect sense for a news organization to refuse to release the tapes from an event where Obama assures us nothing at all of interest happened. Makes perfect sense, so we thus accept Obama’s insistence without question!