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MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry worshipped with President Obama at the controversial Trinity United Church in Chicago, WND has learned.
Harris-Perry was also an associate of Obama's when both taught at the University of Chicago in the early 2000s, and she eventually became a regular commentator on Obama to the news media.
The MSNBC personality is currently in hot water after the network released a promo video in which she argued Americans must grow beyond the idea that children belong to their parents. Instead, Harris-Perry contended, kids belong to the community.
Harris-Perry declares in the ad: "We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we've always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility," Harris-Perry said. "We haven't had a very collective notion of these are our children.
"So part of it is, we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it's everybody's responsibility and not just the household's, then we start making better investments."
Yesterday, WND reported the ad prompted criticism from top talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as well as from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Now WND has learned that Harris-Perry has long been tied to Obama.
In a 2009 piece at The Nation, Perry recalled that although she never formally joined as a member, she attended Trinity Church regularly during the seven years she lived and worked in Chicago, from 1999 to 2006.
Perry wrote that she was even in the pew when the church's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., delivered an infamous sermon the first Sunday after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the sermon, Wright claimed the U.S. was founded by terrorism and said of 9/11, "America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Obama attended Wright's church for over 20 years and was closely associated with the pastor.
On Feb. 3, 2008, Harris-Perry, formerly known as Melissa Harris Lacewell, was featured on NPR, where she further recalled her attendance at Trinity.
She was introduced on the radio program as "Melissa Harris Lacewell" who "knows this church well."
Continued NPR host Liane Hansen in the introduction of Harris-Perry: "Harris Lacewell is an associate professor of politics and African- American studies at Princeton University. But Lacewell lived for years in Chicago and has worshipped at Trinity with Barack Obama and his family. What attracts people to the church, Lacewell says, is a message that combines traditional gospel teachings with an emphasis on black pride and service to the community."
See Melissa Harris-Perry in on-air meltdown urging a safety net for the poor, children and education:
A February 2011 profile of Harris-Perry in the Diverse Issues in Higher Education publication recalls she was mentored by Maya Angelou and her career rose with that of Obama's.
The profile notes that while Perry was teaching at the University of Chicago in the early 2000s, she had a "courtside seat to witness the political ascension of President Barack Obama."
Continued the profile: "His dramatic rise to national prominence brought about her own, as she was often asked to appear on local Chicago television as an expert on his 2004 run for the U.S. Senate. She has become an ardent defender of Obama."
Harris-Perry routinely referred to Obama by his first name, indicating a possible friendship.
For example, speaking to the Washington Times in March 2007, she stated: "Barack went around them to build his own political base in a quirky way by building a base of young black and white voters, and he eventually didn't need old guard black leaders. He eschewed the black political machine."
Harris-Perry is also a trustee at the George Soros-funded Century Foundation, which is a partner of the Center for American Progress. CAP has been described as the "idea factory" of the White House.
CAP is run by John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who was co-chairman of President Obama's 2008 White House transition team.
Podesta and CAP have had heavy influence on the crafting of White House policy. CAP routinely releases policy reports that are reportedly used in the formulation of Obama administration policy.
A Time magazine article profiled the influence of Podesta's Center for American Progress in the formation of the Obama administration, stating that "not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan's transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway."
With research by Brenda J. Elliott