The influential Associated Press (AP) wire service has belatedly run a story about Barack Obama's Marxist mentor without mentioning the smoking-gun evidence that the mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, was a Communist Party member. The dishonest story, which represents damage control for the Obama campaign, was written by AP writer Sudhin Thanawala.
AP is one of the largest news agencies and serves thousands of print and electronic media outlets.
Under the innocuous headline, "Writer offered a young Barack Obama advice on life," the story calls Davis, a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) when it faithfully echoed the Stalinist line, merely a "left-leaning black journalist and poet" known for "leftist politics" and someone who might be accused by some of having "allegedly anti-American views."
Davis was not a "journalist" in any real sense of the term. He was a propagandist and racial agitator for the CPUSA. He was also a recruiter for the communist cause.
The slanted AP story features quotes only from supporters or friends of Davis and Obama. But those picked to defend Davis are themselves interesting.
Ah Quon McElrath, identified as merely "a friend" of Davis's and quoted by AP, was actually an organizer for the communist-controlled International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The ILWU was led by Davis's friend and associate, secret CPUSA member Harry Bridges. Davis wrote for a newspaper, the Honolulu Record, which was controlled by the CPUSA and subsidized by the ILWU.
McElrath is quoted by AP as saying, "You could get a lot of strength from a person like Frank who had suffered all the discrimination...that a black man goes through in America ."
Davis went to Hawaii in 1948 after consulting with Bridges and Paul Robeson, another secret CPUSA member. He was a mentor to Obama during the years 1975-1979 and died in 1987.
Obama supporter Dr. Kathryn Takara is quoted in the AP piece as saying that "Frank was part of a group of black vanguard intellectuals." Takara was the associate producer of a program about Davis that, like the AP story, ignored his CPUSA affiliation. So while she knows a lot about Davis, she seems blind to the evidence of Davis's service to the communist cause.
In fact, Davis was a hard-core but secret CPUSA member with a history of involvement in CPUSA fronts who was so much of a Stalinist that he opposed U.S. participation in World War II during the Hitler-Stalin Pact, but then supported U.S. involvement after Nazi Germany invaded Soviet Russia.
Strangely, the AP article quotes John Edgar Tidwell, a University of Kansas professor who edited Davis's books, as declining by e-mail an interview request because Davis has allegedly become the victim of a "McCarthy-era strategy of smear tactics and condemnation by association." Tidwell knows that Davis was a secret CPUSA member and cites evidence in one of his books, including from one of Davis's private letters, to prove it. Davis refused to deny his CPUSA membership as late as 1956, when a congressional inquiry had named him as a member of the communist underground.
So "McCarthyism" has become telling the truth about communists? Why has Tidwell taken such a low-profile during the presidential campaign when he should have so much to offer about DavisÂ¯and possibly Obama? Why the silent treatment?
Not surprisingly, AP leaves many major questions unanswered. The wire service notes that Frank Marshall Davis is referred to in Obama's book Dreams From My Father "only as Frank."
But why? What does Obama have to say about this curious omission? Could it have something to do with the fact that, by the time Obama wrote his book, he knew that Davis was a Communist? And that he deliberately covered this up? Or did he know it earlier?
This is the key question: What did Obama know and when did he know it?
Why didn't AP ask this question? Was it afraid of the answer? Or did the campaign not want to comment?
There are more questions: Other than what was reported in Obama's book, and by Davis's friends and associates, what was the nature of the relationship between the two of them? Did Davis ever try to recruit Obama into the communist cause? Did Obama leave this out of his book, too?
Two things are clear: All of Davis's personal papers should be immediately released in the name of the public's right to know. And Davis's FBI file, also in the possession of Tidwell, should be released as well (AIM has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the same file).
These are questions that must be answered because, other than Obama's recent Berlin speech, where do we find any solid evidence of his opposition to the communist philosophy?
Indeed, the AP story has to be understood in the context of media support for Obama becoming a major issue of the campaign. It should be remembered that Obama's campaign strategist, David Axelrod, is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, and Obama's press spokesperson is Linda Douglass, formerly of CBS News, ABC News, and the National Journal.
Was the AP's Thanawala performing a free service for the campaign? Whatever the case, the story is itself a scandal and another low point for journalism. It also provides an opportunity for the truth to come outÂ¯about Obama and his lapdog press corps.