A slew of political books will be hitting bookshelves between now and Election Day, covering everything on the spectrum from communist propaganda to Trump hagiography.
Many of those books, such as Sean Hannity’s “Live Free or Die,” will make millions of dollars for their authors and publishers. Some have the potential to influence the election, such as disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok’s attempt at reputation rehabilitation titled “Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump.” Yet in this onslaught of new titles, literally dozens of which will attempt to capitalize on the 2020 election frenzy, there will be a few small polished gems that may be lost in the fray. One such could be Jack Cashill’s “Unmasking Obama: The Fight to Tell the True Story of a Failed Presidency” (Post Hill Press, 249 pages, available for pre-order now).
Cashill has been fighting to tell repressed narratives since well before the 2008 election. His 2003 book “First Strike” was a compelling account of the evidence that the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 resulted from a missile attack that was covered up by the Clinton administration. Perhaps his best known work is “Deconstructing Obama,” which used textual analysis and biographical information to decode the myth of Barack Obama’s life, and particularly to debunk the notion that Obama wrote his best-selling memoir “Dreams From My Father.”
In this new book, Cashill focuses much more directly on the deceptive politics of Obama and how he has had a willing partner in the mainstream media to protect him from unwanted publicity that might disrupt his magical mystery presidency. Indeed, what Cashill makes crystal clear is that the eight years of Obama’s presidency provide a perfect introduction to the first 3½ years of the Trump presidency — not because Trump followed in Obama’s path but because the double standard of the major media is on full display.
The Russiagate conspiracy, which still has not been acknowledged by the New York Times or CNN, is the missing link between the two administrations and was the capstone achievement of Obama’s team in successfully misleading America. The conspiracy against Trump is the evidence in plain sight that Democrats, bureaucrats and media rats together have been able to control the narrative to an unprecedented degree.
“Unraveling that conspiracy, the Russian version or the Ukrainian
one, is beyond the scope of this book,” Cashill notes, but adds, “What I can do is show how the eight years of Obama’s governance and many more years of media entropy created the conditions for a distinctly modern, media-driven coup.”
“Eight years of scandals” would be a more appropriate appellation for Obama’s two terms, despite the former president bragging about how his administration didn’t have any “significant” scandals. Cashill’s most important accomplishment in this text is to reveal in page after page that Obama’s unblemished record is not based on lack of scandal, but rather on lack of serious investigation by either the relevant authorities or the mainstream media.
But the second most important component of “Unmasking Obama” is his praise of the independent citizen journalists who have tirelessly investigated not just Obama’s scandals, but those of President Clinton, George W. Bush and the Fake News Media in general.
Although Cashill has been a significant member of that underground network of investigators, he gives generous credit to dozens of others who have contributed to the search for truth. That includes climate warriors such as James Delingpole, libertarian feminists such as Camille Paglia, castoff mainstream journalists such as Sharyl Attkisson and daring provocateurs such as James O’Keefe.
Cashill describes this ragtag band of misfits and angels as the American version of the samizdat, the self-published illegal underground press of the Soviet Union. The name may not catch on, but it is apt, and although most of the American samizdat does not risk imprisonment for challenging the “party line,” they are marginalized and minimized by the establishment media in a clumsy effort to discredit their inconvenient reporting.
Whether it is Brian Stelter on CNN or Ben Smith at the New York Times (previously at BuzzFeed and Politico), these guardians of the far left act in unison to dismiss or suppress any news that goes counter to the politically correct narrative du jour. Cashill labels these forces of suppression as “firemen,” taking the name from Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451,” in which firemen of the future burn books in order to discourage free thought and limit the spread of knowledge. Sadly, this is an obvious parallel to contemporary journalism.
“Years ago, young journalists aspired to gather information and spread it,” Cashill writes. “During the Obama era, however, the firemen on the left, like those in Bradbury’s novel, aspired to destroy inconvenient information before it could spread. … The firemen had numerous ways of protecting the Obama presidency: defaming opposition journalists, mocking their work, exposing their past sins, trivializing their information, and twisting their facts, among others.”
With his own penchant for puncturing far-left narratives, Cashill has managed to turn himself into a literary pariah. He is routinely dismissed as a right-wing conspiracy kook, and it is no surprise that his Wikipedia entry refers to him as a white nationalist without the slightest hint of evidence to justify that slur.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Cashill has included me as a member of the samizdat and recites accurately my 2012 discovery of an “eye-popping column from November 1979 written by one Vernon Jarrett, a widely syndicated black columnist then with the Chicago Tribune.” Jarrett was the father-in-law of Valerie Jarrett, who later became Obama’s senior adviser, and he was close friends with Frank Marshall Davis, the black communist who was the youthful Obama’s mentor in Hawaii.
In September 2012, I wrote a story showing that Jarrett’s column in 1979 provided circumstantial evidence to support the 2008 claim by Democrat elder statesman Percy Sutton that he had been asked decades earlier by radical attorney Khalid al-Mansour to write a letter of recommendation for Obama to enter Harvard Law School. Sutton’s very clear remembrance had been quickly attacked by “fireman” Ben Smith as the muddled imaginings of an octogenarian, and a story that might have raised serious questions about Obama’s murky past died on the vine.
Then, four years later, in the thick of Obama’s reelection campaign, I found the Jarrett column that provided valuable context for Sutton’s claim that al-Mansour was raising money for Obama’s college education. Jarrett, in 1979, had revealed that al-Mansour was the designated go-between to spend Arab money to benefit black Americans, including “disadvantaged students” such as Obama. If our president had been shown to be beholden to Saudi princes, it might have raised serious concerns about his Middle East policy and more, possibly ending his presidency altogether.
That, of course, was not to be, but my personal experience was emblematic of Cashill’s thesis of a war between the samizdat and the firemen. My column published in Kalispell, Mont. — which Cashill denotes as “the furthest reaches of the samizdat” — didn’t go unnoticed. Within days, my reporting had been targeted by none other than Ben Smith himself, who tried to put out the fire by quoting al-Mansour saying that he had never heard of Jarrett’s column and didn’t know anything about it. This had the effect of protecting Obama by throwing two famous black Americans — Jarrett and Sutton (both of whom were dead by that point) — under the bus.
I wrote a follow-up story to poke holes in the BuzzFeed defense of Obama, but it didn’t matter. Ben Smith had the cachet to stifle whatever traction my story would have gotten. A real journalist with Smith’s resources would have tried to find substantiation for my theory, not dismiss it. Unless Vernon Jarrett was a liar, then there must have been other payments made from Saudi Arabia and other conversations with other universities that could be documented. “Follow the money,” I wrote, with hope that some enterprising reporter could trace Obama’s college funding back to its source.
Alas, that was not to be. As Cashill shows in repeated examples, once the firemen have doused the flames of any inconvenient reporting that threatens their favored politicians and issues, the rest of the mainstream media take the advice of Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Nothing to see here. Move along!”
Both of my columns on Jarrett, al-Mansour and Sutton are reprinted in my own book about the Obama presidency (“Obama’s Fundamental Transformation,” which is Part 2 of the “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy). As I thumb through my book now, I am struck by how many of the topics I covered during eight years are the same ones that Cashill revisits: the politicization of the IRS, the bait-and-switch selling of Obamacare, the mischaracterization of the Benghazi attack, the Iran nuclear boondoggle.
In almost every case, it was virtually impossible at the time to write about these topics without being labeled (as I frequently was, even in Montana) a racist, a xenophobe, or, like Cashill, a white nationalist. Of course, I am none of those things. What I am — and what Cashill is, too — is someone with a sense of curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism. Add that to the ability to apply logic to a story, and you have what used to be called an old-school journalist.
You won’t find them often these days at the New York Times or the Washington Post, and not at all at CNN (thanks, Jeff Zucker!) but they are still out there somewhere — underground, underpaid and under siege. If we hope to complete a third century as a free country, we had better pay them heed. The alternative is unthinkable. Without the American samizdat, all we would have is the official party line as served up by the corrupt media, protecting the public from the need to make up their own minds.
As George Orwell warned Britain in 1945 in an essay titled “The Freedom of the Press”:
“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. The common people still vaguely subscribe to that doctrine and act on it. In our country ... it is the liberals who fear liberty and the intellectuals who want to do dirt on the intellect.”
Nothing much has changed in the ensuing 75 years, except you can add the United States to the list of countries where liberals fear liberty. And you can bet that they fear Jack Cashill.