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Protest at the L.A. Times: Free the tape! Updated

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 30, 2008 11:04 AM


Photo credit: Omri Ceren at Mere Rhetoric

Scroll for updates…link to more photos and video below…

Several southern California readers send word that there will be a protest at the L.A. Times building today at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern over the suppressed Obama/Khalidi tape.

Here’s the info:

I just got word that there is a planned protest to try and force the LATimes to release the video of Obama/Rashid Khalidi. If people cannot physically attend the protest at the LATimes Headquarters building in downtown Los Angeles, they are encouraged to call the offices at (213) 237-5000, fax a request to release the video or complaint against their current stance to (213) 237-7679.

Your participation in this is of the highest priority to provide information to the voters in time to present a clear picture of the Democratic candidate’s coziness with individuals possessing extreme views in direct opposition to US foreign policies.

For more information, please go to the website of the organization leading the protest effort –
www.freedommarch.org

LA Times Headquarters
202 W. First St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
main phone 213-237-5000
fax 213-237-7679

There’s also a petition here.

From Jeffrey Goldberg at the left-leaning Atlantic:

I understand that the tape was leaked to the Times by a source or sources unknown, and that an agreement was struck with that source to keep the tape hidden, but the tape has been described in a Times story already, and it quite obviously contains no state secrets. I also suspect that the tape could be posted in such a way as to obscure its origins. The Times, however, won’t discuss in detail why it’s keeping the tape from its readers, and the newspaper’s “readers’ representative,” Jamie Gold, has lined up against the readers, and argued against the release of the tape.

There is another reason why the tape should be posted: It might actually create interest in the L.A. Times. From what I understand, the mainstream media is in a bit of trouble these days. Perhaps — this is just a thought here — the L.A. Times could better its position in the world by drawing readers to its website.

***

Update:

Inspired by commentators on the Internet and cable television, thousands of people e-mailed and phoned The Times to demand the release of the tape. Hundreds of others expressed support for the paper’s decision.

The controversy stems from an article by Times staff writer Peter Wallsten that the newspaper published on April 10, exploring Obama’s relationships with Palestinian Americans and Jews in Chicago. The article explained how Obama had managed to be held in high esteem by both groups. It described a party in 2003 for Khalidi, a renowned scholar on the Palestinians who in the 1970s had acted as a spokesman for Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization.

Some participants at the event spoke sharply against Israel. One young woman accused the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of the Palestinians. Obama “adopted a different tone,” according to the article, “and called for finding common ground.”

The reporter and his editors said they found it ironic to be criticized now for allegedly trying to protect Obama, noting that the story had drawn strong rebukes from Obama supporters. Commentators at two websites — the Nation and Talking Points Memo — charged that the newspaper had unfairly suggested that the Democrat could not have allies in both communities.

Wallsten said he had worked on and off for several weeks to gather information on Obama’s relationships in the Palestinian American community, with sources speaking only on condition of anonymity, including one who had the video.

The reporter’s editor said the paper would have preferred to be able to post the video on its website but could not get the source to agree.

“If we had not reached this agreement, we would not have had access to this tape at all. Then no one would ever have known Obama attended this event and spoke at it,” said the editor, Aaron Zitner. “We were pushing to say the most we could and to present the most we could to readers about what happened. And we did that.”

Update: Omri Ceren has photos and video.

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