The National Enquirer:
UPDATED: Reports out of Washington, DC: PRESIDENT OBAMA in a shocking cheating scandal after being caught in a Washington, DC Hotel with a former campaign aide.
A confidential investigation has learned that Obama first became close to gorgeous 35 year-old VERA BAKER in 2004 when she worked tirelessly to get him elected to the US Senate, raising millions in campaign contributions.
While Baker has insisted in the past that “nothing happened” between them, reports reveal that top anti-Obama operatives are offering more than $1 million to witnesses to reveal what they know about the alleged hush-hush affair.
Among those being offered money is a limo driver who says in 2004 that he took Vera to a secret hotel rendezvous in where Obama was staying.
An ENQUIRER reporter has confirmed the limo driver’s account of the secret 2004 rendezvous.
The Jawa Report:
This is Vera Baker, a fundraiser for Barack Obama and also his (gasp) alleged mistress.
I was just going to ask, “Is she hot?”. But then the Enquirer ran with it
PRESIDENT OBAMA has been caught in a shocking cheating scandal after being caught in a Washington, DC Hotel with a former campaign aide, sources say. And now, a hush-hush security video that shows everything could topple both Obama’s presidency and marriage to Michelle!
A. Is she hot?
B. Ya think Obi-One hit dat?
C. Anyone have any more pics of the Presidential Cupcake? Like in a bikini?
Carol Platt Liebau at Townhall:
Were it not for the paper’s accuracy in reporting on John Edwards, one would simply laugh at the story. From what I’ve ever known of Barack Obama, he never struck me as the philandering type. That’s just not where his passions seemed to lie.
Then again, the arrogance of power can, no doubt, encourage people to feel as though the rules simply don’t apply to them — and few could deny that Obama has a fair share of self-regard. What’s more, people can change (or their real character can fully emerge). The Barack Obama I knew at law school was a big liberal, but he didn’t seem to enjoy attacking his adversaries, and he still had a sense of humor. But that’s before he had anything to lose — or any significant opposition.
It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. I’d be afraid to be the one to have to confess to his wife, wouldn’t you?
Frances Martel at Mediaite:
The Enquirer is also promising hotel surveillance footage that could prove that Obama and Baker entered and left the hotel at the same time. “Investigators are attempting to obtain a tape from the hotel (that) shows Vera and Barack together… If the tape surfaces, it will explode the scandal.” The Enquirer does not specify the dates of the surveillance footage, which could mean they are merely touting a 6-year-old affair the Obamas and everyone around them have moved beyond it, but they could also be breaking something new. Or they are totally wrong or taking some bit of information completely out of context, which would hardly be shocking.
So that’s the kicker– whether the video evidence truly exists, and how old it really is. Yes, the fact that it is the National Enquirer reporting it makes the matter highly questionable, especially in light of their previous attempt at launching an Obama sex scandal. However, the last time the Enquirer broke a high-profile political sex scandal, many in the media were upset it didn’t win a Pulitzer Prize, which makes their claim at least worth reading over. Plus, the claim is simply too damaging for the publicity rewards to outweigh the risk of publishing such a falsehood– this isn’t exactly an Anderson Cooper adoption story– especially after the tabloid worked so hard to establish credibility over the past couple of years on this precise type of case. Somewhat adding to its
credibility significance and impact is the fact that the Drudge Report, whose success is directly attributed to breaking the Monica Lewinsky story in 1998, felt confident enough in its accuracy to give it prime real estate on the site.
As Rod Blagojevich would say, let’s not jump to conclusions until we’ve had a chance to review all the tapes– after all, without them, this wouldn’t be any more credible than the latest Brangelina rumor (which, if you’re interested, is that the twins have Down Syndrome). That said, a story of this category is no longer the joke it once was in the post-Rielle Hunter world, and if this is something more than a publicity campaign on behalf of the tabloid, could prove to be problematic.
Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway:
And if the tape doesn’t exist, it will be like the supposed Michelle Obama “whitey” tape which turned out to be a hell of a lot of ado about absolutely nothing.
The other thing to note is that this isn’t an new story at all. The London Daily Mail ran with it before the 2008 election, and had a much more skeptical look at it than the Enquirer:
Barack Obama is the target of a shadowy smear campaign designed to derail his bid for the US Presidency by falsely claiming he had a close friendship with an attractive African-American female employee.
The whispers focus on a young woman who in 2004 was hired to work on his team for his bid to become a senator.
The woman was purportedly sidelined from her duties after Senator Obama’s wife, Michelle, became convinced that he had developed a personal friendship with her.
The allegations were initially circulated in August, just two weeks before the convention at which Obama finally beat his opponent for the Democratic Party nomination, Hillary Clinton.
The woman, now 33, vigorously denies the vicious and unsubstantiated gossip.
And some Washington insiders suggested that she was the victim of an 11th-hour attempt to smear Obama by die-hard Hillary supporters.
But now the rumours have resurfaced, suggesting that they may be coming from elements in the Republican Party.
According to sources interviewed by The Mail on Sunday, the respected Los Angeles Times, the tabloid National Enquirer and the huge ABC television network have been provided with the woman’s name.
In the most commonly-purveyed version of the rumour, she was ‘exiled’ to a Caribbean island because Michelle Obama objected to her job on the 2004 campaign.
To say the least then, this story deserves to be looked at with a jaundiced eye, notwithstanding the fact that the Enqurier has, in the past, been accurate about these types of stories.
Adrian Chen at Gawker:
Every couple years, the rumor surface that Barack Obama had an affair with his hot campaign worker Vera Baker. It happened again—this time in the pages of the National Enquirer. Which is always right about politicians’ sex scandals.
In 2008, the Daily Mail re-visited the old chestnut that Obama got it on with 35 year-old Baker back in 2004 when she was helping him campaign for the Senate. Of course, the Daily Mail is a paper famous for falsely claiming that everything causes cancer and it is British so we cannot trust them because, remember the Revolutionary War?
But now the National Enquirer says the same thing. And they claim an anonymous limo driver can vouch for the fact that Obama and Vera Baker spent a sexxxy night together in a DC hotel in 2004. Here’s how we know it’s true:
- The National Enquirer broke the John Edwards sex scandal, but the mainstream media ignored it. Since the National Enquirer was right about John Edwards it has to be right about Obama. Why would the National Enquirer risk its reputation of being mostly made-up, but once in a while being right about something?
- The National Enquirer currently is reporting that Tiger Woods slept with 121 women. If they were able to get information about 121 women who slept Tiger Woods, surely they could get information about one woman who slept with Barack Obama.
- The Enquirer reports that “anti-Obama operatives are offering more than $1 million to witnesses to reveal what they know” about the affair. WHY WOULD ANYONE OFFER THAT MUCH MONEY IF IT WASN’T TRUE?
- Limo drivers are among the most trust-worthy people. This limo driver is so trustworthy that it took him six years of introspection before breaking his client’s trust by dishing to the Enquirer; and he only broke that trust to fulfill the greater duty of exposing to the American people that Obama had an affair. Six years! Dude is super trustworthy. And he’s humble, too, since he chose to remain anonymous rather than exploit the situation.
- The story is currently the top story on Mediaite, home to the POWER GRID. Mediaite is Glenn Beck’s favorite website. Glenn Beck is always right; so is Mediaite.
Colby Hall at Mediaite:
Late last night the notorious tabloid the National Enquirer broke a story claiming that President Barack Obama was caught having an affair with a former campaign staffer. Despite the story being very thinly sourced, various Internet media outlets picked up the story, including Mediaite, raising questions about even repeating stories that have not been properly reported.
Almost immediately we received harsh feedback from progressives on Twitter who felt that we were somehow derelict in duty for reporting that this story had broken in the tabloid. I want to rebut the notion that we should not have covered this story at all.
Information is so widely available in this day and age – the hope that people will not discuss a story, no matter how questionable its sourcing – is a time that has passed. Does that mean that the Washington Post and New York Times should be reporting this story? Of course not. Does it mean that we are part of some right-wing cabal for analyzing it? No. A website covering the intersection of media and politics can’t ignore this story. Did we give credibility to what some are claiming to be a paper thin account? Some may say yes, but only those who did not read the story carefully.
We have a smart audience of savvy media watchers who will know that when Drudge picks up a story, that in addition to his base of readers, media decision makers will also be seeing it and making difficult decisions about what to do with it. The days of a paternalistic media protecting the populace from questionable information has passed. Good or bad for the country and the world, it is. That is where we are today.
It wouldn’t be the first time a politician had an affair while on the campaign trail, of course. If there were a political counterpart to the old VH-1 “Behind the Music” series, it would be as much a standard subplot as a drug-induced career spiral is for rock stars.
So, I suppose I wouldn’t be shocked if this bore out. I’d sure as hell be surprised, though. Despite significant ideological differences, Obama has always struck me as an incredibly decent sort. As Joe Biden said in a different context, he’s storybook, man. He’s seemingly excelled at everything he’s ever tried and is universally regarded by those who know him and work with him as down-to-earth, earnest, and hard working. And, while politicians always tout themselves as family men, Obama actually seems to be one, making time for his kids even while holding down the hardest job on the planet. Let’s just say he’s no Bill Clinton.
Further, while I suppose it would be good news for Republicans if true, I sincerely hope it isn’t. It’s just bad for the country to continually be let down by our leaders and role models. And that’s especially true for The First Black President, who serves as an inspiring example for a historically downtrodden group and has the very real potential to heal some very old wounds.
Joe Coscarelli at Village Voice:
That’s right, false alarm. The only thing adding any sliver of believability to the National Enquirer‘s rehashing of a 2008 rumor about a Barack Obama affair was a claim about the existence of a video tape showing the president and his former aide at an illicit hotel rendezvous. They didn’t claim to have the tape, or even know where it was, but just that it existed. Maybe:
“The ENQUIRER has also learned that on-site hotel surveillance video camera footage could provide indisputable evidence,” the story once read.
Now, an astute eye at Mediaite (doubtlessly refreshing the page all day, fiending for new info), found that the Enquirer report has been “UPDATED,” meaning stripped of anything almost resembling journalism.
All that remains is anonymous chatter from a limo driver back in 2004, who claims he dropped off a women, Vera Baker, at a hotel where Obama might’ve been. According to the tabloid, “top anti-Obama operatives are offering more than $1 million to witnesses to reveal what they know about the alleged hush-hush affair.”
The lingering urge to trust the Enquirer after their brush with the truth in the John Edwards affair has all but been squandered on this recycled story, and it didn’t even have a chance to grow legs beyond the weekend. It will be interesting to watch whether Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, et al. dare to touch this thing with the Enquirer, of all places, already issuing what resembles a correction in the world of “real journalism.”
For a minute there a lot of people were on the verge of very nervous. Now maybe Obama can enjoy his dinner.
Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite:
Here is an email we received yesterday from National Enquirer Web Editor Dick Siegel in response to Frances Martel’s second post about the story:
In reference to the online Medialite story which carries your [Frances Martel] by-line:
1. The ENQUIRER has NOT retracted the story
2. The updated story was edited for clarity and the online copy is an abridged version of the original posting
3. The reference to the hotel surveillance video you claim in your story that was omitted is in the online ENQUIRER posting
4. The full unabridged story appears in this weeks Globe magazine cover date May 10, 2010 pgs 30, 31 and 34
5. The ENQUIRER stands by its story.
National ENQUIRER Web Editor
One Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
So! The Enquirer is standing by their shadily sourced story. And I mean seriously, shadily sourced: “An ENQUIRER reporter has confirmed the limo driver’s account [the print version provides an expanded, if equally shady, anonymous account from said limo driver] of the secret 2004 rendezvous and has also learned that on-site hotel surveillance video camera footage could provide indisputable evidence to the investigation.” Yeah, that’s a pretty big could. As in it could provide evidence that campaign workers stayed in the same hotel at Barack Obama in 2004. As in, if we could get video evidence of Roswell, we might be able to prove the existence of aliens (actually, I think that may have been a NE story).
Likely the most reliable part of this entire story is that “that top anti-Obama operatives are offering more than $1 million to witnesses to reveal what they know about the alleged hush-hush affair.” Yes. I think it’s pretty much a guarantee that a whole lot of people would be willing to pay a whole lot of money for some sort of proof (video tape or otherwise) that the president is not what he says he is. Duh. In political terms it’s referred to as “opposition research.”
Interestingly (or maybe predictably), when I emailed Siegel back to ask him to comment on how the National Enquirer is following up on this story, and why the NE has suddenly decided to re-pursue it, or if we can expect the sort of photo evidence that accompanied the Edwards stories? His only response was to confirm that I had the right link to the story.
Whatever collective motivations may be operating on this story, there is a simpler explanation for the lack of coverage: the story has no legs. It doesn’t even have thighs. It is, really, as Slate’s John Dickerson put it to me today, an “investigation about an alleged rumor,” but we don’t know who is doing the investigating and what precisely ought to be investigated.
Also, when this rumor came up during the campaign, mainstream news organizations did investigate, and found that there was no evidence to support the charge. (I did my own noodling around, interviewing even disaffected Obama staffers from the time period and found nothing.) Through his campaign, Obama denied any affair. Vera Baker has also publicly denied any affair. There are no new developments to speak of, and the Enquirer has already revised its claim about “an alleged surveillance tape.” Says the Enquirer: “Now, the investigators are searching for a hotel surveillance videotape [my emphasis].”
Investigators? That implies something criminal. No, no. We learn that these investigators are “top anti-Obama operatives” who are offering a million dollars for solid evidence.
It’s appropriate to ask the “So what?” question. So what if Obama did have an affair six years ago? Well, it’s gossip. It has no bearing on his job as president, but it would tell us something about his life at a critical juncture. Part of Obama’s mainstream appeal, which is code for saying that Obama doesn’t scare working class white voters, is that his family is picture perfect. He does not represent a stereotype. But Obama didn’t falsely create this image. Whatever happened or did not happen six years ago, his family life is extremely solid today. All of this discussion is moot, though, because there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that there was an affair.
Baker was a good PAC fundraiser, having worked with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee under Jon Corzine. Why was she in Washington with Obama? Because PACs are headquartered in Washington.
If there were criminal allegations, more pursuit might be warranted, even in the absence of evidence. There are no such charges involved here.
This “affair” is destined to become a white whale for fringe groups who have no other impulse than to bring down a president they “know” in their hearts is illegitimate. It’s the birth certificate, all over again.