Jim Lindgren, the Chicago-based lawblogger, has done what the Larry Johnsons of the blogosphere have not on this Michelle Obama smear. He looked for evidence. Lindgren drove over to Rainbow/PUSH headquarters to ask if the organization had a tape of the event Obama appeared at during their 2004 convention, the event that's become the focus of the story since the first few versions collapsed.
I spoke with Robert (Bobby) Lewis, Director of Studio Services, who apparently handles the recordings of events. Lewis said that the recording of events from 2005 and earlier was farmed out and most or all of the existing recordings (listed on the website) had not been conveyed in-house to the National Headquarters. He said that he did not know if the organization had a recording of the 2004 conference. In response to my more specific question, he said that the one-hour Saturday broadcasts on the 2004 Annual Conference (June 26, 2004, and July 2, 2004), which are listed on the website for purchase, are not available, since they come from the earlier outsourced period.
So, Lindgren shovels dirt on one of the weirder claims that HillBuzz made: That the Rainbow Coalition produced a tape that was sold online by Trinity. (Trinity's videos-for-sale are exclusively from worship services.) The original HillBuzz post now has more updates and parentheticals than any blog post I've ever seen. Lindgren finds out something else:
I was very surprised when he informed me that I was the first person to have contacted them about this matter. Given the furor on the internet, I suspect that many of you are skeptical about this claim, but he really seemed unaware of the flap. He wanted to know the name of the website that had the story about the conference. And at first, he thought I was talking about a panel on which Barack, not Michelle, had spoken. In manner, he was gracious and he didn't seem to be particularly guarded or defensive.
Speaking just for myself, I was first interested in what the MCs—both ABC-7 anchors—remembered from the event, and put in a call to ABC-7 for interviews. They haven't gotten back to me yet, but it's almost superfluous. Who thinks that two TV reporters would host a luncheon, with other media in the wings, and twiddle their thumbs while a "special guest" went on a 30-minute rant about whites? It's the same thing that made me laugh when Roger Stone repeated the rumor that "a network has its hands on this." TV networks, as a rule, don't sit on exclusive videos. The counterargument that, well, TV networks didn't look hard enough for damaging Jeremiah Wright sermons isn't an argument at all. The sermons stayed below the radar because the networks didn't get the tapes.
Jim Geraghty has another great catch, pointing out the similiarities between this rumor and the 2006 novel The Power Broker. On the other hand, I see that Jeff Rense is circulating the rumors and linking to Hillbuzz, right next to his news stories about chemtrails and "Putin's Purge of Rothschild Money Changers." The Hillbuzz blogger(s) have a promising future.
Also: Obama calls the rumor part of the "dirt and lies that are circulated in e-mails" and says if anyone has "evidence" of him or his wife doing stuff like this, then he'll respond. The hoax dead-enders call it a "punt." That's nonsense: The proper response to a "when did you stop beating your wife?" query like this is: "Go to hell."