If you were tuned in to Fox News last night, you may now believe in a grand media conspiracy to cover up the “inflammatory” things that then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said about race relations in a June 2007 speech before a conference of black clergy at Hampton University in Virginia. Sean Hannity, on his eponymous program, aired an “exclusive” broken by the Daily Caller exposing these most “outrageous” passages.

That we somehow didn’t know about these passages, says Hannity, provides “further proof that the mainstream media has been in the pocket of Barack Obama since the day that he arrived at the national stage.”

Now, in one of these “outrageous” passages ignored by the “left-wing press,” Obama noted how aggressively the federal government handled disaster relief in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and in Florida after Hurricane Andrew. Yet New Orleans, victim of Hurricane Katrina, didn’t get the same generosity from the feds. Here’s how Obama put it:

When 9-11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act — said, ‘This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here’s ten dollars.’ And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with y’own money, here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not gonna wait for you to scratch it together — because you’re part of the American family.’ ”

That’s not, Obama says, what is happening in majority-black New Orleans. “What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?”

If you’re upset that you didn’t know about this particular talking point, you may heed Hannity’s call to blame the left-wing media. The speech, after all, wasn’t a secret, as Hannity points out in his broadcast. The Associated Press, local television stations and the Daily Press, Hannity notes, covered the event.

But what about Fox News? Via Nexis comes this transcript from “Special Report with Brit Hume” on June 5, 2007:

In the meantime, Senator Obama today said the Bush administration has done nothing to defuse what he calls a quiet riot among black Americans, a riot he suggests is ready to erupt. Obama said African American resentments and frustrations are building, especially, he said, because so many blacks from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are still displaced 21 months after Hurricane Katrina.

Obama warned against conditions similar to those in Los Angeles 15 years ago.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: Not only do we still have the scars of the riots and the quiet riots that happen every day, but how in too many places all across the country, we haven’t even bothered to take the bullet out.


HUME: Obama was speaking at a conference of black clergy at Virginia’s Hampton University.

So Fox News knew about this speech too, as noted here and here. Why didn’t it dig more deeply into it? Why didn’t it get the full tape? Why didn’t it jump on this story instead of waiting five years for the Daily Caller to do so? Why did it hide this thing?

What we have here is a delicious slice of pie — i.e., Hannity and Fox being part of a conspiracy alleged by Hannity and Fox. It would be ripe material for a Fox News Public Editor, if only such an individual existed. How could the network that constantly crows about the media’s failure to vet Barack Obama so clearly fail to vet Barack Obama?

The failures and hypocrisy would be forgivable if not for the $1 billion. That’s Fox News’s profit expectations for this year. Any news organization that makes a billion dollars in profits needs to be careful about slighting other media outlets for failing to adequately cover any story. If Fox wants Obama vetted to its satisfaction, it need only commit a small fraction of those profits to an investigative team of Barack Obama vetters. That way, it wouldn’t any longer need to rely on pipsqueaks like the Daily Caller and Breitbart.com to supply its alleged ”bombshells.”

Yet instead of looking inward, Fox looks outward, pointing blame at the Associated Press and at the Daily Press, “serving Hampton Roads, Va.” Such a sliming operation by a billion-dollar network against a regional newspaper could be called shameful, but when you’re talking about Fox, it’s so easy to overuse that word.