Buzzfeed Uncovers Video Of Obama At Harvard In 1991

The idea of finding video of Barack Obama speaking when he was a student is something that has seemingly been a dream of many on the right for four or five years now. Presumably, they believe that there’s some video evidence out there of a 20-something Barack Obama unveiling his secret plan to move to Chicago, become a Senator, run for President, and turn us all into Kenyan anti-colonialists or something.

Well, Buzzfeed scored something of a coup today in uncovering video of Barack Obama speaking in 1991 when he was President of Harvard Law Review:

It was perhaps Barack Obama’s most intense immersion in the charged campus racial politics of the late 1980s and early 1990s: As President of the Harvard Law Review in the spring of his final year there, 1991, he aligned himself with Professor Derrick Bell’s dramatic protest for diversity on the faculty of Harvard Law School.

Bell was the first black tenured professor at the school, and a pioneer of “critical race theory,” which insisted, controversially, on reading issues of race and power into legal scholarship. His protest that spring was occasioned by Harvard’s denial of tenure to a black woman professor, Regina Austin, at a time when only three of the law school’s professors were black and only five women. He told Harvard he would take a leave of absence — a kind of academic strike — “until a woman of color is offered and accepted a tenured position on this faculty,” and he launched a hunger strike to dramatize his point.

Obama was a major figure on campus, the first black president of the Law Review. Some friends, in a prescient joke, just referred to him as “the first black president.” He had a reputation as a conciliatory figure, not a confrontational one like Bell.

Here’s the video:

Nothing much here that’s likely to be controversial, but of course I’m sure someone will try to make something of it. It is interesting for historical reasons, though, and many commentators have noted how much the young Obama sounds like the guy who run for President some 17 years later.

Update: Take it for what it’s worth, but the Breitbart folks are claiming there’s more to this video:

Earlier today, Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith announced on Twitter that video researcher Andrew Kaczynski had released “the mysterious Harvard/Obama/race video that the Breitbart folks have been talking about.”

The video, which Kaczynski says was “licensed from a Boston television station,” shows a young Barack Obama leading a protest at Harvard Law School on behalf of Prof. Derrick Bell, a radical academic tied to Jeremiah Wright–about whom we will be releasing significant information in the coming hours.

However, the video has been selectively edited–either by the Boston television station or by Buzzfeed itself. Over the course of the day, Breitbart.com will be releasing additional footage that has been hidden by Obama’s allies in the mainstream media and academia.

Breitbart.com Editor-in-Chief Joel Pollak and Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro will appear on The Sean Hannity Show to discuss the tape. The full tape will be released tonight on Fox News’ Hannity.

What did I tell you?

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jim says:

    Now I have one thing in common with President Obama: like me, in college he was annoying and self-righteous.

  2. Vast Variety says:

    “The video, which Kaczynski says was “licensed from a Boston television station,” shows a young Barack Obama leading a protest at Harvard Law School on behalf of Prof. Derrick Bell, a radical academic tied to Jeremiah Wright–about whom we will be releasing significant information in the coming hours.”

    In laymans terms… After they have photoshopped in enough fakery they will release it to their blogs.

  3. Patrick says:

    Ah yes Hannity. Four years ago, almost to the day, he was airing “the Clinton Chronicles” where, among other nonsense, he claimed the Cs had murdered Foster.

    This crap is only going to appeal to those who would never vote Obama anyway and probably push some who are on the fence in O’s camp.

  4. DRS says:

    Think they’ll photoshop in a Teleprompter? Because I don’t think he’s using one.

  5. Patrick says:

    While watching the video again, it seems to me that footage was already used by Frontline in their 2008 documentary about the presidential candidates.

  6. Jr says:

    The hardcore right is getting so desperate these days.

  7. legion says:

    Back… and to the left. Back…. and to the left.

  8. Franklin says:

    This should be as juicy as Michelle Obama’s “Whitey” recording … oh wait …

  9. Ben Wolf says:

    Footage from this video was included in the Frontline special: Dreams of Obama, nearly three years ago. It’s quite a laugh Republican activists think they’ve found something new.

  10. Moosebreath says:

    “However, the video has been selectively edited–either by the Boston television station or by Buzzfeed itself.”

    Given past history, it is more likely to have been selectively edited by Breitbart’s group.

  11. Steve V says:

    So they’re going to release significant information about Derrick Bell? That’s the big reveal?

  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    This is another of those desperation tactics that will incite the loony base but everyone else is going to say these folks are crazy. Who outside of a complete raving looney thinks anything Obama did as 19 year old student is remotely relevant to today. I haven’t watched this but vaguely remember that Frontline program some have referred to….as I recall the big guy looked pretty good.

  13. Ian says:

    Wait, wait, wait….so let me see if I have this straight. A Breitbart site is claiming that someone else has released a selectively edited video relating to race and politics!? What, do they want royalties? It’s like those moronic antidrug ads (department of redundancy department, I know): “From you, alright? I learned it from watching you!!”

    Please tell me that someone else picked up on that little delicious slice of irony.

  14. giantslor says:

    This sort of cuts against the rightwing trope that Obama can’t speak without use of a teleprompter.

  15. John Gallagher says:

    These Breitbart clowns are hilarious. Of course it was edited. That’s what media people do to get a product. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. In the meantime the best President since Eisenhower is moving the nation forward on both foreign and domestic fronts and doing a damned respectable job under very tough circumstances. Maybe these idiots can find the security camera footage of Congressman Issa stealing cars. That would be worth seeing.

  16. Jenos Idanian says:

    What’s remarkable is that this video was released just before Breitbart’s people were going to release their own video, and right after they released the story of Obama celebrating the teachings of Saul Alinsky. Just a wild coincidence, I’m sure, and totally unrelated.

    Breitbart and his people seemed to be at the confluence of a lot of such astonishing bits of timing…

  17. Brummagem Joe says:
  18. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Well, that might explain just where Obama was really born…

  19. An Interested Party says:

    What’s remarkable is that this video was released just before Breitbart’s people were going to release their own video, and right after they released the story of Obama celebrating the teachings of Saul Alinsky. Just a wild coincidence, I’m sure, and totally unrelated.

    Awwwww…that’s just so adoreable…certainly not effective, but adoreable…do keep trying though…

  20. Jeremy R says:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/government-elections-politics/the-story-behind-the-obama-law-school-speech-video/

    The web is abuzz today about video of a speech Barack Obama gave in 1990 (some reports have incorrectly identified the speech as occurring in 1991) at Harvard Law School defending the actions of Professor Derrick Bell.

    Looks like it was actually 1990.

  21. labman57 says:

    Public protests are a non-patriotic demonstration of unAmerican ideas by people who want to destroy society as we know it! *

    * … unless said protests are conducted by members of the tea party, in which case they’re the ultimate display of democracy and patriotism against the evils of the establishment.

  22. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    I’d like to hear Obama’s opinion about Derek Bell’s “Operation Shutdown.”

  23. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Interesting thing about the video – his voice (delivery and tone as well as sound) is almost the same today. Sticks with what works, I suppose.

  24. Janis Gore says:

    That Obama, such a outside agitator.

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:
    I had a disturbing experience a couple weeks ago. My sister unearthed what is evidently my earliest writing. I was seven. I sounded exactly like I do now, 50 years and 150 books later. The sentence structure, the voice — no progress in 50 years.

  26. David says:

    @michael reynolds: At least it didn’t get worse. Not everyone can say that.

  27. Janis Gore says:

    Without the big clanging brass brass balls of Andrew Breitbart, his media will subside into the same quiet Pajamas Media that was his progenitor.

    When’s the last time any one referenced Pajamas Media?

  28. anjin-san says:

    Saul Alinsky

    Good Lord. Why don’t you just tatoo “Raging Idiot” on your forehead?

    When’s the last time any one referenced Pajamas Media?

    Well, bithead does almost constantly. But then, it’s bithead. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. He seems to struggle mightily just to keep his own blog up.

  29. kate48 says:

    This speech has the same cadence and style Obama uses today, proving that he is genuine and natural and not trying to sound like someone else.

  30. Brummagem Joe says:

    PBS have now put up the entire video with all of Obama’s speech and lots of lengthy but boring speeches by all kinds of people who are not POTUS. Despite the suggestions of the wingnuts at Breitbart and co there are no scary black people episodes. Another lead balloon from the crazies sinks below the waves.

  31. rodney dill says:

    …certainly not effective, but adoreable…

    Actually it is an effective mechanism to derail anything on Breitbarts video, by saturating people with their own version first, just as condescension is a mechanism to dismiss something you disagree with.

    That being said, I do doubt that much new ‘material’ will appear on Breitbart’s video.

  32. David says:

    @rodney dill: And PBS beat them to the punch, except there is no punch.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    When’s the last time any one referenced Pajamas Media?

    Whenever someone was telling a joke, I would imagine…

    Actually it is an effective mechanism to derail anything on Breitbarts video…

    Obviously I meant that it wouldn’t be effective in a way that Jenos Idanian would like…

  34. Hey Norm says:

    Hannity.
    Is there anyone on television more blithely untethered from reality?

  35. Janis Gore says:

    I do find it odd that some conservatives find it reprehensible that American blacks or African-Americans or people of color might have have some animosity toward a system that forces them to trace their family histories through bills of sale.

    Good Lord, we’ve only had some semblance of equality for less than 50 years.