All freedom-loving Americans and independent-minded journalists must be concerned about the authoritarian actions practiced in recent days by Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign, which cut off future interviews to a local news network after its anchor dared to ask legitimate but pressing questions to Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden.

The boycott move is a direct threat to what little is left of America’s free press, highlighting to reporters the ramifications of questioning the Obama campaign on issues it doesn’t want to talk about.

As a Mideast reporter, I’ve seen this kind of action before. It’s routinely practiced by Middle East dictators and has resulted in an intimidated press corps which toes the jihadist line, in part out of fear of having their contacts cut off.

During the exchange in question, labeled as “hostile” by the Obama campaign, WFTV Orlando’s Barbara West started an interview by asking Biden whether he was embarrassed about the “blatant attempts to register phony voters by ACORN,” stating Obama had been tied to the controversial organization which has been convicted in massive cases of voter registration fraud.

Biden responded: “I am not embarrassed by it. We are not tied to it. We have not paid them one single penny to register one single solitary voter … so there is no relationship … We haven’t paid Acorn a single penny to register one single voter.”

Biden’s response is false and misleading.

As WND first reported, Obama’s campaign indeed paid more than $800,000 in services to Citizen Services Inc., or CSI, a nonprofit organization that is an affiliate of ACORN and works from the organization’s offices. The payments, listed for “stage, lighting or sound,” stood out in FEC filings since CSI does not offer services for stage, lighting or sound. The Obama campaign amended the FEC reports in August and September to claim the payments to CSI were for get-out-the-vote efforts, which means the Obama campaign absolutely paid an affiliate of ACORN to help register voters.

Biden’s attendant claim there is “no relationship” between Obama and ACORN is also untrue. In 1992, Obama was director of Project Vote in Chicago, which helped register 150,000 voters on the city’s South Side and whose parent company is registered at the same New Orleans address in which ACORN and multiple ACORN affiliates are housed. Obama’s campaign claims ACORN was “not part of” Project Vote, but Obama himself previously stated ACORN was “in the middle” of Project Vote.

Obama and other Chicago attorneys won a 1995 suit on behalf of ACORN, forcing the state of Illinois to implement the federal “motor-voter” bill. In the early 1990s Obama conducted two train courses for ACORN activists. While Obama served alongside Weathermen terrorist Bill Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit, he helped channel millions of dollars to ACORN and affiliated groups.

But back to the interview. West went on to quote Karl Marx and asked Biden how Obama’s comment to Joe the Plumber about spreading the wealth was not a Marxist ideal.

Biden, visibly taken aback, retorted, “Are you joking? Is this a joke, or is that a real question?”

He later said to West, “I don’t know who’s writing your questions.”

West was not off the mark in her line of questioning about socialism, although her delivery could have been more appropriately tempered. Just last week, WND reported strong evidence has emerged that Obama belonged in 1996 to the now-defunct socialist New Party. It sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda.

Obama’s campaign furiously retaliated for the West interview by refusing future sit-downs with the Orlando news channel and unilaterally canceling a scheduled chat with Biden’s wife, Jill.

Adrianne Marsh, Florida spokeswoman for Obama’s campaign, ruled, “This [Jill Biden’s] cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election.”

Marsh characterized West as “both combative and woefully uninformed about simple facts” and claimed West’s insistence that Obama was an organizer for ACORN was “100 percent false.”

We have seen the Obama campaign repeatedly deny or minimize provable facts and associations, such as Obama’s ties to Ayers, ACORN, or pro-PLO Professor Rashid Khalidi. There’s nothing new this time around.

The worrying escalation is the Obama camp’s immediate clamp-down on West’s news program, an affront to journalists everywhere.

There are only a handful of reporters conducting real, independent investigations of Obama anyway, so this draconian move will probably not have much of a direct impact on the pathetic state of “reporting” in this presidential election.

But the Obama-Orlando boycott could have far-reaching, long-term consequences should Obama take the White House. Reporters have taken note and will likely think twice in the future before bringing up legitimate issues that call into question Obama’s leadership and its reifications for the U.S.

Talk radio must immediately be placed on high alert in response to the West incident and amid reports Democrat senators are itching to revive some version of the Fairness Doctrine, which aims to silence non-liberal viewpoints.

The type of media oppression evidenced by the Obama camp is regularly practiced in the Middle East, where (excluding Israel) independent journalism is virtually nonexistent. Most media outlets in my neck of the woods are state run. The Palestinian Authority has previously shut down access for reporters who strayed from the Palestinian narrative of Israeli “aggression” toward Palestinian “victims.” Syria once refused to let me enter the country for fear that as a Jew and truth-seeking journalist I may shine a light on the rogue Damascus regime. Egypt has arrested reporters for questioning the leadership of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The outlook for the already grim future state of reporting during an Obama administration just faded to black.

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