A day after Mitt Romney’s 47 percent video surfaced, Matt Drudge countered with a fourteen-year-old video in which Barack Obama makes the scary-sounding admission that he believes in “redistribution.” The clip failed to get any traction, so on Tuesday he tried again, hyping a “bombshell” video of “Obama’s Other Race Speech” with help from the Daily Caller and Fox News. The Internet quickly pieced together that this referred to a 2007 speech at Hampton University, which has been available online for years. By the time Fox News debuted the video at 9 p.m., Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson were already feeling defensive. Hannity lamented that while the speech was reported on in 2007, “so-called unbiased journalists” chose not to delve into Obama’s ad-libbed remarks. Carlson agreed, “This was covered at the time. There were reporters in the room. I had a show at the time on another channel and I covered the remarks that were released.” Five years later, Carlson has finally obtained the full video, complete with some “explosive” new facts: Obama takes a slightly different tone when addressing a predominantly black audience, he once called Rev. Jeremiah Wright “a friend and a great leader,” and he was pretty “steamed” about how the federal government responded to Hurricane Katrina.
While the Daily Caller claims that the 40-minute video, which is posted in full, shows Obama using “an accent he almost never adopts in public,” Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski Tweeted three YouTube clips of the president “using that ‘accent’ he apparently never uses.” Politico notes that Obama’s “shout out” to Rev. Wright, who was in the audience, hasn’t been seen on video before, but the quote was widely circulated, and even showed up on the site’s list of the top 2008 campaign gaffes.
The most incendiary of the newly unearthed clips is Obama’s off-the-cuff criticism of the federal government for waiving the Stafford Act, which requires local and state governments to match federal funds when receiving money for rebuilding, following 9/11 and Hurricane Andrew, but not doing the same following Hurricane Katrina. “What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?” Obama says. “Makes no sense! Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much!” Though the remark is a bit too Kanye West for the campaign trail, Obama wasn’t the only politician who complained about the Stafford Act and suggested that race played a role in Hurricane Katrina.
It would seem issues surrounding Obama’s race and Rev. Wright were put to rest when the American people elected Obama four years ago, so it’s unclear why the conservative outlets thought the video would be a “bombshell.” (Reminding voters of a Republican president’s inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina doesn’t seem like the best strategy either.) Despite all the hype, the video flopped even among Republicans. The Romney camp, which distanced itself from a planned super-PAC ad on Rev. Wright in May, has denied any involvement in Tuesday night’s so-called scoop. Later in the evening on Fox News, Rep. Allen West of Florida said, “What’s the ‘So what’ of this video? I don’t think it’s going to really go anywhere.” Newt Gingrich agreed, saying, “I don’t think this particular speech is definitive,” and framing it as merely a reminder of Obama’s “pattern of dishonesty” on issues such as the Libya attack. On Twitter, conservative columnist John Podhoretz echoed Gingrich, saying “Tape. Snooze. 8.1 percent unemployment. Not snooze. Benghazi coverup. Not snooze.” Most tellingly, within a few hours even Drudge had moved on, switching to a headline that asks “ARE YOU READY???” under a photo of a debate podium.