During the Soviet era, “samizdat” referred to the clandestine copying and distribution of literature banned by the state. Since official news sources were little more than communist government propaganda, samizdat was often the only source of truthful reporting. In “Unmasking Obama: The Fight to Tell the True Story of Failed Presidency,” Jack Cashill tells the story of how an American samizdat of bloggers, online journals, and citizen journalists challenged the left – and, occasionally, the more “respectable” right – for control of the Obama narrative. In this excerpt Cashill tells the story of how the samizdat smoked out the origins of Black Lives Matter.
On the morning of March 23, 2012, Barack Obama said of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin four weeks earlier, “My main message is to the parents of Trayvon – If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” Four weeks after the shooting, Obama had no excuse for not knowing the facts of the case. This would prove to be the most destructive moment of his presidency.
On this same March day, the samizdat kicked into gear. Leading the way was a fellow who prefers to be known only as “Sundance.” Just a year earlier, he and a handful of like-minded citizens, most of them female, banded together to form a blogging collective called the “Conservative Treehouse.” Like most citizen journalists in the samizdat, Sundance and his fellow “Treepers.” worked without compensation.
Within weeks Sundance and the Treepers had largely deconstructed the fraudulent case against the shooter in question, George Zimmerman. To accomplish this, Sundance did a fair amount of gumshoe reporting in the Miami area, Trayvon’s home base. One day, he discovered that the valve stems had been surgically removed from two of his now terminally flat tires.
The culprit left on his windshield a Miami-Dade Police business card with the name sliced off. On the back of the card was written one word – “STOP!!” There was a reason Sundance blogged under a pseudonym.
One thing Sundance did suspect, but could not prove, was that the Florida state attorneys had enabled, if not orchestrated, a shocking legal fraud. He believed the young woman that prosecutors claimed was on the phone with Trayvon prior to his death was a fraud. Without this “phone witness,” the state could not have arrested Zimmerman. The affidavit of probable cause was based largely on her testimony.
Five years after the trial, samizdat Los Angeles filmmaker Joel Gilbert picked up where Sundance left off. Gilbert knew something about the Soviet samizdat. As a nineteen-year-old in 1984, he visited “refuseniks” in the Soviet Union as part of a discreet program run by Jewish organizations.
In September 2019, Gilbert debuted his documentary, The Trayvon Hoax, at the National Press Club. In a dazzling bit of investigative journalism, he confirmed Sundance’s suspicions about the state’s star witness, Rachel Jeantel.
To prove Jeantel an impostor, Gilbert enlisted private investigator Susan Daniels, as well as two prominent handwriting analysts, an audio expert, and a forensic DNA lab. After poring through page after page of text messages, phone calls, tweets, Facebook messages, high school yearbooks, and crime reports, Gilbert was able to find the real girlfriend, a then sixteen-year-old Haitian American hottie Trayvon knew as “Diamond.”
Gilbert discovered that when Diamond refused to perjure herself about what she knew, Trayvon’s support team – led by George Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump – allowed the mentally challenged Jeantel, Diamond’s half-sister, to pose as a witness. This was the most consequential bit of judicial malpractice in memory.
At the time of the film’s release, Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, was running for office in what the Miami Herald called “the most high-profile race in the history of commission politics.” Hillary Clinton had publicly endorsed Fulton, as had Cory Booker.
As Gilbert proved beyond doubt, however, Fulton was the one adult who inarguably knew about the witness switch. A Pulitzer awaited the intrepid reporter who followed Gilbert’s leads. Not a one could be bothered, not in New York, not in Orlando, not even in Miami.
Only twelve minutes elapsed from the time Gilbert sent an email to the Miami Herald’s managing editor asking for his help to the time Gilbert was told, “Thanks for reaching out. We are going to pass.” The ensuing email flurry from the Herald newsroom quickly built to Category 5 level contempt, and this was Miami.
Only after Zimmerman filed a $100 million suit in December 2019 did the Herald pay any attention to Gilbert’s evidence, and even then its editors got everything wrong. If they had watched the film, the editors would have known just how badly they reported the story. They didn’t care. They unapologetically set “the merits of the case aside” in making one final request of Zimmerman: “Please, go away and leave Trayvon’s parents alone.”
Going away was no longer an option. Black Lives Matter had formed in response to Zimmerman’s acquittal in 2013. Had its founders been following the trial through the samizdat, they would not have been shocked or outraged at its outcome. They would have known how desperately out of control Trayvon Martin’s life had become and understood why he viciously attacked a stranger half-a-foot shorter.
Obama had no excuse for not knowing this and even less excuse for green lighting the lethal racial madness that has followed in the years since BLM’s founding.
Jack Cashill’s “Unmasking Obama: The Fight to Tell the True Story of Failed Presidency” is available in hardcover and e-book form.