Back in the old days of 2007-2008 when Illinois Senator Barack Obama was on the rise, I wrote from time to time about his affiliation with the United Church of Christ — and his minister, Jeremiah Wright.
I did this for two reasons.
One, I am a member of the UCC myself. And knowing the denomination well, having served as president of my local church council as well as a member of the board of the regional Penn Central Conference, I felt compelled to explain that unlike, say, the Catholic Church, the UCC — home of the Congregationalists and the Pilgrims — has a bottom to top structure. Which is to say every individual church in the UCC runs itself and makes its own choices on everything from ministers to church policy and politics. Meaning then-Senator Obama’s choice of membership in Chicago’s Trinity UCC indicated to me at least the potential that his local church could be extremely left-wing and politically controversial. Or not.
The way I learned about Trinity and the soon-to-be famous Reverend Jeremiah Wright was the dogged persistence of Sean Hannity, who had himself picked up the trail from writer Erik Rush. If one was watching, Hannity had Fox all over this story — including getting an early appearance from Rev. Wright himself.
This is another way of saying that the rest of the media, like Brian Ross of ABC, were, for whatever reason, totally not in the chase.
Eventually, as Obama began to gain on Hillary Clinton and the liberal media’s efforts on his behalf became apparent, Mr. Ross finally stepped up to the plate. Good for him.
But for whatever reason tonight, Bill O’Reilly mentioned in passing during a talk with Laura Ingraham that Ross was out front on the story of Jeremiah Wright. A minor thing, perhaps, on the night of a big debate with other issues at stake. But for the record — as a UCC member actively following the Wright story and trying to determine the leanings of Obama’s local church and any implications coming from this — there is no question whatever that Hannity had this story cold right from the get go. He dug, he dug, and he dug some more — and still takes grief for persisting with it.
But he was right about Wright. And in retrospect was sending up a signal flare as to how an Obama Administration would approach governing the country.
And neither Brian Ross — nor anyone else in the mainstream media — was anywhere close to being out front on this.
Back to the issues.