Media bias regarding Obama’s & Palin’s past associations

Note: This article was co-written and edited by Michael and Nate


Ever since Gov. Sarah Palin was announced as Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential nominee, the press has dissected her past record, associations, and personal life. This was, of course, a necessity since Gov. Palin was a virtually unknown figure to the national scene prior to McCain disclosing her as his VP choice.

At the same time, Sen. Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President back in January of 2007 which has given the press 22 months to investigate Sen. Obama’s history. In recent days, it’s become very clear that some portions of Obama’s past, though relevant to the election, are being either ignored or downplayed by the media.

For example, once Gov. Palin was announced as McCain’s VP, it was soon discovered that she may have affiliations with the Alaska Independence Party (AIP), a state-level third-party group in Alaska which some say advocates for the succession of Alaska as part of the United States. Since that revelation, the media has written about her possible connection with the AIP numerous times, questioning her and her husband Todd’s association with the AIP.

Take these stories as examples:

New York Times: A Palin Joined Alaskan Third Party, Just Not Sarah Palin

MSNBC: Palin spouse was member of states’ rights party

Los Angeles Times: CNN bid to tie Palin to secessionists is a stretch

Truth be told on the matter of Palin and the AIP, the media did it’s job and got to the bottom of it. The non-partisan political fact-checking website FactCheck.org investigated the matter and released their findings:

Palin was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party – which calls for a vote on whether Alaska should secede from the union or remain a state – despite mistaken reports to the contrary. But her husband was a member for years, and she attended at least one party convention, as mayor of the town in which it was held.

The party’s chair originally told reporters that Palin had been a member, but the official later retracted that statement. Chairwoman Lynette Clark told the New York Times that false information had been given to her by another member of the party after she first told the Times and others that Palin joined the AIP in 1994. Clark issued an apology on the AIP Web site.

The director of Alaska’s Division of Elections, Gail Fenumiai, confirms that Palin registered to vote in the state for the first time in May 1982 as a Republican and hasn’t changed her party affiliation since. She also told FactCheck.org that Palin’s husband, Todd, was registered with AIP from October 1995 to July 2000, and again from September 2000 until July 2002. (He has since been registered as undeclared.) However, the AIP says Todd Palin “never participated in any party activities aside from attending a convention in Wasilla at one time.”

These types of videos are also available via YouTube which feature Gov. Palin addressing the Alaska Indepence Party during their state convention:

In truth, the AIP shares many basic conservative values as those espoused by the Republican Party such as smaller government, states’ rights, and agreements on social issues such as traditional marriage and abortion. However, some other aspects of the AIP are questionable with regard to the mainstream of American politics, such as their desire to see Alaskans vote on whether they want to actually be a state of the union.

Still, the media did what it’s best at – it discussed and vetted the issue so that voters can now decide if it matters to them or not. What does this mean for Palin? That’s for you the voter to decide.

I am proud to say that our website, YouDecide2008.com, had commentators who have explored Gov. Palin’s connections to the AIP from both sides, quite thoroughly.

Now back to Sen. Obama’s past associations with third-party political groups. In recent days, evidence has surfaced that Sen. Obama, while running at the state level in Chicago, Illinois, became a member of the prepubescent political party known as the New Party. The New Party was not an official “third-party” as they did not seek to run under the New Party title on the ballot during elections. New Party members would run for office as Democrats in order to garner more widespread appeal under a recognizable party name.

The New Party sought to take the Democratic Party more to the left with regard to many policies including wealth redistribution, and further socializing numerous programs such as health care, education, and retirement. For weeks, rumors about Sen. Obama’s affiliations with the New Party have been nothing more than rumors, however, in recent days some evidence has surfaced which has cemented Sen. Obama’s association with the group.

The New Zeal blog uncovered these newsletters, distributed by the New Party National Committee, which tout Sen. Obama as a “member” of the party who won his Democratic primary for state senator.

Here is a close-up on this front page:

Here’s the ultra-close-up of that front page, discussing members of the Chicago New Party, such as Barack Obama, and their victories in certain primaries:

What does this mean? Well that is for voters to decide, however, it is surprising that within the last 22 months neither the media, the Clinton Campaign, nor the McCain Campaign has presented this information to the voters for their discernment. The New Party shares many of the Democratic Party’s goals on labor unions, social justice, and other typically Democratic issues, however, they differ on issues such as wealth redistribution through forceful progressive taxation. One substantial issue the New Party had with both major political parties was the influence corporate money had on their politics, a benign political position compared to its other stances.

The real point in bringing this information to light, something the media hasn’t done, is to try and bring a semblance of balanced reporting to this campaign.

Another group closely associated with the New Party was the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, who Sen. Obama was also associated with through meetings as well as receiving their endorsement for his state senate campaign.

Here is an excerpt from the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Party website which congratulates Barack Obama on his primary victory while running for the Illinois State Senate in 1996:

Secondly, the NP’s ’96 Political Program has been enormously successful with 3 of 4 endorsed candidates winning electoral primaries. All four candidates attended the NP membership meeting on April 11th to express their gratitude. Danny Davis, winner in the 7th Congressional District, invited NPers to join his Campaign Steering Committee. Patricia Martin, who won the race for Judge in 7th Subcircuit Court, explained that due to the NP she was able to network and get experienced advice from progressives like Davis. Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration.

In the excerpt, the DSA states that Sen. Obama is asking other New Party members to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration.

Again, what does this mean? That is up to the voters to decide, however, the media has never questioned Sen. Obama’s affiliation with the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Party, nor his membership in the Chicago chapter of the New Party.

Questions were asked about the extent of Gov. Palin and her husband’s involvement with the Alaska Independence Party, however, not a single question has been posed to Sen. Obama concerning his membership with the Chicago chapter of the New Party.

Will the media ask Sen. Obama these or similar questions:

Why did you seek out the New Party for membership in Chicago?
Do you agree with their ideals of wealth redistribution?
Do you still believe in their shared goals with the Democratic Party?
Did you believe the Democratic Party wasn’t socialist enough in it’s policies when you joined the New Party?
Did it bother you that the New Party sought election victories while running secretly as Democratic candidates?
Did you ever participate in the New Party’s strategy of “piggy-backing” as a Democratic candidate?
An endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America requires candidates sign an agreement to push the DSA agenda, did you sign such an agreement in 1996?

There are many avenues a good reporter could question, however, if you search around the internet the only reference to the Chicago New Party will come from blogs, not the same major media establishments which instantly and thoroughly delved into Gov. Palin’s connections to the AIP.

So the bottom line here is that in our duty to provide all sides of factual information during this election season, we have presented more information concerning Sen. Obama’s past associations in a similar manner to Gov. Palin’s associations. The only difference is that the media has not examined Sen. Obama’s in the same regard as Gov. Palin’s. It also important to note that FactCheck.org has never discussed Sen. Obama’s association withe New Party to either confirm or dispel the extent of the association.

The bottom line here is to present all information about each candidate in a balanced format so voters can make up their individual minds on the issue and whether it matters to them.

For further information on Gov. Palin’s connection to the AIP or Sen. Obama’s connection the New Party, visit our ever-expanding commentary section.


Note: This article was co-written and edited by Michael & Nate