Here's how NYTimes columnist William Kristol explains it:
Here's Kessler's column at Newsmax.com column.
For one thing, it’s becoming clear that Obama has been less than candid in addressing his relationship to his pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. For example, Obama claimed Friday that “the statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity.”
It certainly could be the case that Obama personally didn’t hear Wright’s 2003 sermon when he proclaimed: “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, not God bless America, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. ... God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human.”
But Ronald Kessler, a journalist who has written about Wright’s ministry, claims that Obama was in fact in the pews at Trinity last July 22. That’s when Wright blamed the “arrogance” of the “United States of White America” for much of the world’s suffering, especially the oppression of blacks. In any case, given the apparent frequency of such statements in Wright’s preaching and their centrality to his worldview, the pretense that over all these years Obama had no idea that Wright was saying such things is hard to sustain.
Here's where the story gets fun. Fred's show starts at 3pm. At 1:03pm (nearly two hours BEFORE Fred's show) Talking Points Memo posted this:
In fact they reported that Kristol had added a correction to his own column. This is what it said:
In his latest column, Bill Kristol falsely claimed -- based on reporting by Newsmax, of all things -- that Obama had attended Trinity Church last July 22nd, when Wright blamed blamed the “arrogance” of the “United States of White America” for much global suffering.
The Obama campaign responded with an aggressive fact-check last night, saying that, no, in fact Obama was not at the service.
In this column, I cite a report that Sen. Obama had attended services at Trinity Church on July 22, 2007. The Obama campaign has provided information showing that Senator Obama did not attend Trinity that day. I regret the error.This, as I said, was almost exactly two hours BEFORE Fred show was to begin. So even before Fred started talking on the air, William Kristol had acknowledged that the story was wrong.
Nice going, Fred. In all fairness (and I am nothing, if not fair) Fred and Ron did try to spin things with, of all things, Newsmax's own correction:
The Obama campaign has told members of the press that Senator Obama was not in church on the day cited, July 22, because he had a speech he gave in Miami at 1:30 PM. Our writer, Jim Davis, says he attended several services at Senator Obama's church during the month of July, including July 22. The church holds services three times every Sunday at 7:30 and 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central time. While both the early morning and evening service allowed Sen. Obama to attend the service and still give a speech in Miami, Mr. Davis stands by his story that during one of the services he attended during the month of July, Senator Obama was present and sat through the sermon given by Rev. Wright as described in the story. Mr. Davis said Secret Service were also present in the church during Senator Obama's attendance. Mr. Davis' story was first published on Newsmax on August 9, 2007. Shortly before publication, Mr. Davis contacted the press office of Sen. Obama several times for comment about the Senator's attendance and Rev. Wright's comments during his sermon. The Senator's office declined to comment.Note that they don't pin Senator Obama down to a particular service (looks like they can't). And they say that he could still have heard the sermon if he attended the early morning or late evening service. No proof, of course, that he actually attended. Only that he could have. It's all tied up with a nice bow of the reassurance that Jim Davis, who wrote the original piece back in August, "stands by" the story that Obama heard an angry sermon that Davis heard sometime in the month of July, 2007. That's a long long way away from slam dunk proof that he was there on July 22, isn't it?
You'd think that things couldn't unravel more. But you'd be wrong.
It turns out that Jim Davis (who posts at freerepublic as Philo1962) can't find the notes he based the story on. Go read his explanation over at freerepublic, if you want a good chuckle.
And yet things unravel some more. This evening TPM Election Central posted this:
And the proof of this? Someone named Ronald Kessler:
As I noted below, Bill Kristol had to append a correction to today's column, after the Obama campaign convinced him that his claim that Obama had attended a controversial Jeremiah Wright column was, well, false.
Kristol had cited, of all things, a piece on Newsmax by Ronald Kessler as the source for the tall tale. Kessler's piece, too, featured an update that acknowledged error -- sort of, anyway.
But there's been an amusing epilogue to this otherwise dispiriting tale.
It turns out Kessler has been busy today scrubbing references to this episode of fact-bungling from his page at Wikipedia.
I checked in with Kessler himself, and he confirmed that he had done the deed. He said he'd cut out the reference to his own fact-bungling because it also contained a reference to an article criticizing him for his stance on torture -- and that all of this was part of the same "left-wing" assault.Fred, Fred, Fred. You've got to do better than this. You can't be putting on such badly sourced material on KDKA's air. It's just too easy for someone like me to bat it down.
Just too easy.
Don't worry my friend, tomorrow is another day.