The policy at the National Press Club is that one must submit a question on a note card to be asked by a moderator. And yesterday at Rev. Wright's appearance, my question regarding Rev. Wright's HIV conspiracy theories was asked.
And while I am never a fan of skirting manners, Rev Wright's obnoxious and inappropriate treatment of the moderator (and the rest of the press for that matter) caused me to break the silence and confront Wright directly.
Here's what the transcript on the wires says happened:
MODERATOR: In your sermon, you said the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. So I ask you: Do you honestly believe your statement and those words?
WRIGHT: Have you read Horowitz's book, "Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola," whoever wrote that question? Have you read "Medical Apartheid"? You've read it?
(UNKNOWN): Do you honestly believe that (OFF-MIKE)
WRIGHT: Oh, are you -- is that one of the reporters?
MODERATOR: No questions -
WRIGHT: No questions from the floor. I read different things. As I said to my members, if you haven't read things, then you can't -- based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything.
In fact, in fact, in fact, one of the -- one of the responses to what Saddam Hussein had in terms of biological warfare was a non- question, because all we had to do was check the sales records. We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people.
So any time a government can put together biological warfare to kill people, and then get angry when those people use what we sold them, yes, I believe we are capable.
So I am guilty of being Mr. "Unknown" in that transcript.
Here's how a wire story late in the day put it...
When asked if he still believes the U.S. government created HIV "as a means of genocide against people of color," Wright asked the moderator if she had read Emerging Viruses: AIDS And Ebola: Nature, Accident or Intentional? Then, Griff Jenkins, a Fox News correspondent who apparently wrote the question, stood up and asked Wright to answer the question. "No questions from the floor," Wright shot back.
I have not, nor do I intend to, read Leonard G. Horowitz's book cited by Rev. Wright. However, if you would like to do so, one can find it at Amazon.com under the "Conspiracies" category.
After the speech, several people came up to me and said that they appreciated my speaking out during Wright's Q&A because what he seems to be doing is simply enjoying his own personal show - but at the cost of spewing divisive rhetoric in the name of God.
Rev. Robert Schenck of the National Clergy Council told me, "I came here somewhat naive thinking he might be being misunderstood... now I hope he faces even tougher questions."
This is a man who does not deserve a free pass by the media.