The campaign of Republican presidential nominee John McCain is demanding the Los Angeles Times release a video purportedly showing Barack Obama at an event in which he spoke of his friendship with a controversial Palestinian scholar, the newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The footage is said to be of a 2003 banquet during which Obama, who was then an Illinois state senator, spoke of his relationship with Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American Orientalist who is known for his frequent criticism of Israel, the L.A. Times said.
This past April, the LA Times ran a story on the banquet, which was a gathering of Arab Americans and local Chicago politicians who had gathered to bid farewell to Khalidi.
When Obama addressed the crowd, he spoke of his conversations with Khalidi as "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases... It's for that reason that I'm hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation - a conversation that is necessary not just around [Khalidi's wife] Mona and Rashid's dinner table."
The newspaper has refused to release the video, citing an agreement it made with an anonymous source. McCain aides on Tuesday slammed the Times for its refusal to publicize the tape, according to the Times.
"A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi," McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb is quoted as saying in the Times. "... The election is one week away, and it's unfortunate that the press so obviously favors Barack Obama that this campaign must publicly request that the Los Angeles Times do its job - make information public."
The newspaper responded to the McCain camp's charges of favoritism on Tuesday, issuing a statement explaining its position.
"The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it," said the newspaper's editor, Russ Stanton. "The Times keeps its promises to sources."
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