Thursday, October 30, 2008

African Press International, Michelle Obama Tapes: Fox News Denies Story

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African Press International
Michelle Obama Audio Tapes

The [Almost] Final Chapter

Fox News Denies Negotiations or Airing of API Tapes

The final verdict is in on the African Press International story about it receiving a phone call from Michelle Obama that was, in API's words, "shocking".

That verdict does not bode well for African Press International. We will classify the whole episode "bizarre--though entertaining to some".

ALSO at DBKP on African Press International and Michelle Obama:

* African Press International, Michelle Obama: API Says Discussions with Fox News Are Happening
* African Press International, Michelle Obama Phone Call: Tapes Released Later Today
* Michelle Obama Calls African News Organization Over Obama Birth Certificate Reporting - UPDATED
* African Press International, Michelle Obama: Editor Says He Has Audio Tape of Conversation
* African Press International: Open Letter to Michelle Obama from API Chief Editor

The African Press International story started 16 days ago when API posted a story concerning a phone they allege occurred between one of their correspondents and Michelle Obama that had elements which API called "shocking".

API said that in the phone conversation, Mrs. Obama referred to Americans opposed to her husband's candidacy as "racists".

DBKP reported the story. We've since received emails, pro and con, about the alleged phone call and the API stories, which have turned into an Internet saga.

API said they recorded the call. Then that the audio of the tape would be released. Then, after delays, we took a powder on the story, deciding to wait and see.

During that entire time, we've been in contact with several individuals who have been involved in various aspects of the API negotiations. Their opinions of API changed--sometimes over the course of a single.

So, we waited.

The following story was posted on the API website today.

API/Fox News deal: Sean Hannity show and Greta Van Susteren’s show “On the Record” to air the Michelle Obama tape in less than 24 hours.

The agreement stipulates that any information on the day and hour the tape will be aired will only be announce 15 minutes to the airing time. This was agreed upon to avoid any pressure being directed to Fox News Network by individuals who would want to get the details about the tape in question.

The airing of the tape can take place any time from this day and due to its sensitivity, people who will inquire from Fox News and API for details will either get a no comment answer or that there is no agreement on the table.

Which invited the following responses, which we noted.


READ BELOW: THIS IS SIMPLY A LIE ABOUT ME AND I HAVE NO IDEA IF A LIE ABOUT FOX AND / OR SEAN HANNITY BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THIS STUFF BELOW IS. I HAVE NO IDEA WHO API (AFRICAN PRESS) IS…this is the first I have heard about them….BUT I DO WANT TO “KILL THE VIRUS” LYING ABOUT ME. (Note that I lifted only part of the quote below because I just wanted to correct the lie about me..the website goes on and on.)

Fox News Denies Involvement with Supposed Michelle Obama Audio Tape:

Exclusive: Fox News denies any involvement in the purchase of an audio tape apparently featuring an unflattering portrayal of Michelle Obama. In a widely-circulated Web post, an organization called African Press International claims to be in negotiations with the network to air the tape.

An FNC spokesman tells TVNewser: "API's dubious claim that FOX News has purchased a supposed audio tape to be aired prior to Election Day is absolutely false."

Today's post on the API Website reads:

A final agreement has been reached between African Press International (API) and Fox News Network (USA) on the dates to air the Michelle Obama tape arising from a discussion Mrs. Obama had with the API two weeks ago. The show will take place any day/time from now, with a 15 minutes alert on when it is to take place. Other programmes will be interrupted. This is a precaution taken to avoid interference from any quarter. In the agreement, Fox News Network will broadcast 39 minutes of the 54 minutes long tape.

ABC's Jake Tapper talked with Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs last week who told him no such tape exists. "It's bogus, she didn't call, it's all a lie," Gibbs says.

The entire episode seems strange: strange that API would post their latest story.

Strange because the rest of their posts, covering a multitude of stories from Africa, suggest no hoaxes, no scams.

We can't divulge the various opinions and back-and-forth for the emails we received over the last week. But we will say this: confusion among the various parties, including API reigned.

We will now post the following API information, plus and minus.

  • API believes they talked to Michelle Obama.
  • API has audio tapes of something.
  • API is a small organization and is not usually in the spotlight.
  • Some parts of API's story checked out. DBKP got proof--from some individuals that API referred to in their subsequent stories--that confirmed parts of API's stories.
  • DBKP received proof that these individuals were corresponding directly with API, as reported by API.
  • Apparently, the editor-in-chief of African Press International had made arrangements to fly to New York City. API reported that this was for an appearance on Fox News.
  • Previously, DBKP--despite numerous attempts--could not confirm or deny that API ever was in negotiations with anyone at Fox News.

Now, on the API minus side:

  • African Press International has not posted an audio tape of their alleged conversation, 16 days after the fact.
  • Numerous delays have occurred in the API timeline.
  • Individuals DBKP trusts have expressed doubts in writing to us with proof.
  • API's latest story about the appearance of the tapes on Fox News, which has been denied officially by a Fox News spokesman.

As always, readers can make their own judgments.

Our judgment, at present time?

The phone call could have taken place. African Press International could have audio tapes of the phone call. African Press International may believe it had an agreement with Fox News.

African Press International did receive emails of a harassing nature, as well as threats--from both sides of the political spectrum.

Is the story true?

As we reported sixteen days ago: we don't know.

The API story could be true.

However, based on 1) what we know from the latest reports from both African Press International and Fox News; and, 2) can report from the many off-the-record accounts we've received, we are throwing the cold water of hard evidence on the story.

We won't label it a "hoax" or "scam": there's no evidence any money was to be gained by African Press International. That failure to try and quickly cash in when API could have--along with their past 1000+ stories over the last two years--are two of the reasons we won't slam the lid on the coffin of this strange story.

However, we'll note that we wouldn't be betting the house on the story.

If there are further developments that DBKP can confirm, we'll, of course, report them. We will publish a complete wrap-up and timeline to the story--most probably in the next several days, time allowing.

For now, we'll quote a line from one of our off-the-record email conversations with one of the principals.

"This story will probably end up in the October Surprise graveyard."

by Mondo Frazier
images: dbkp file

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