Action Wire Dirty Tricks

After six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, The Case Against Barack Obama got a response this week from the Obama campaign — an orchestrated effort to keep the author’s message off the airwaves.

Author David Freddoso, whose first Washington reporting gig was as assistant editor at HUMAN EVENTS (he was my replacement), and who subsequently worked for veteran columnist Robert D. Novak (where Freddoso also replaced me), was attacked by the Obama campaign as a “card-carrying member of the right-wing smear machine,” as part of a campaign to keep him off of the popular Chicago radio show “Extension 720” Monday night.

The effort failed because the campaign’s grass-roots arm, Obama Action Wire, did not realize that the show was taped, and despite calls into the station, the show aired uninterrupted.

Freddoso is a close friend of mine, and I, as an employee of Regnery Publishing (a HUMAN EVENTS sister company), was his editor on The Case Against Barack Obama, so I can’t exactly make a disinterested account of the incident, but here are the facts:

At 8:22 p.m. Monday, September 15, the Obama Action Wire sent a mass e-mail with the subject, “Chicago: CALL TONIGHT — WGN to air another right-wing smear merchant.” The message said:

“David Freddoso has made a career off dishonest, extreme hate-mongering, even calling legislation to protect people from hate crimes the “Thought Police.”

“And WGN apparently thinks this card-carrying member of the right-wing smear machine needs a bigger platform for his lies and smears about Barack Obama — on the public airwaves.”

The point of the e-mail was to pressure the station not give Freddoso a public forum: “Tell WGN that by providing Freddoso with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse.”

The last line on the e-mail read “Paid for by Obama for America.”

The show was actually a balanced segment pitting Freddoso against Obama supporter Daniel Johnson-Weinberger. Freddoso says the segment was “a good debate — lively and all very civil.” Zack Christenson, producer for Extension 720, said that while the taped portion was playing, Obama supporters spurred by the e-mail were “Flooding the phonelines.”

At the bottom of the Obama Action Wire e-mail was “some background on Freddoso” that ranged from the false to the ridiculous.

The first point read: “Freddoso asks Barack, ‘How many unrepentant Communist terrorists do you have as friends?’ [p. 126] This question is so ridiculous it refutes itself. Barack might as well ask Freddoso how many leprechauns he’s friends with.”

The factual errors start early. The “How many…” question is directed at the reader, not at Obama. The rhetorical question is a way of highlighting how extraordinary Obama’s friendship with former Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers is.

While the “leprechaun” line might be a reference to Freddoso’s alma mater, Notre Dame whose mascot is a leprechaun (or a veiled dig at Freddoso’s half-Irish ethnicity), the logic of the analogy implies that “unrepentant Communist terrorists” are imaginary. But as Freddoso lays out in the book, Ayers was a self-professed Communist, who admits to planning bombings.

The e-mail labels as a “lie” this sentence about Obama in the book: “Meanwhile, he argues that the wealthy need to pay more in taxes, and in March he voted to raise yours if your taxable income is greater than $32,500 a year,” arguing that refuted that claim. The article the e-mail refers to refutes a similar, but different claim by the McCain campaign (which has conflated income and taxable income) and actually confirms Freddoso’s point:

What Obama voted for was a budget resolution that would have allowed most of the provisions of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to expire. In particular, the resolution would allow the 25% tax bracket to return to its pre-2001 level of 28%. That bracket kicks in at $32,550 for an individual.