While I was eating dinner last night, Lee Habeeb, the 47-year old conservative talk radio producer who was revealed Wednesday as one of the creators of the incendiary "Is Obama Wright?" viral video, surprised me by calling my cell phone in response to my interview request from earlier in the week. He described himself as an avid old school hip hop fan who makes anti-Obama videos for "the joy" of it. Habeeb, who was quite chatty, suggested that GOP operatives have asked to buy the rights to his video, which fanned the flames of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy by depicting both Wright and Obama as stereotypical “angry black men.” Here are excerpts from our conversation:
You chose Public Enemy's rap song "Fight the Power" as the soundtrack for your video, and included a clip replaying Michelle Obama calling her husband a "black man" over and over. Many people have called the video racist. How would you respond?
The Public Enemy song, it’s simple irony for people who were rap fans in the 90s, and I’m a big old school rap fan from back in the '90s, when there was actually good rap. What did Public Enemy say was the National Anthem of the 1990s? "Fight the Power." So we used that song to say, "Why is Obama the only candidate on stage during the National Anthem without his hand over his heart?" He has a different relationship to his flag than those other people do. ... But he had plenty of flags around him when he made the speech [on race in America Tuesday]. I think there were eight. ... It's not that [Obama's] not a good patriot, that he’s not a good man, that he’s not a good citizen. No. I just think that he’s a phony on this issue.
How does your employer feel about you being revealed as the creator of the video?
I work for a great company [the Salem Radio Network] that has basically said, "We don’t control the free speech of our employees in their free time.” I said, "Would you guys mind if I do things on the side?" And they said no.
Would you ever want to work in political advertising?
No, we don’t want to do ads, though we’ve been approached.
Who has approached you?
Republicans have asked to just simply buy it from us. No names need to be mentioned, but there's been approaches. We’re doing this for fun. I already have a job, I want this to be a joy. And that's what it is, a joy.
What do you think of the McCain campaign suspending a staffer for disseminating your video?
I think shame on John McCain, because he’s basically saying to his campaigners, "Don’t have opinions."
Habeeb's "NHaleMedia" already has a new video out on YouTube. He describes it as a demonstration that Obama is "one man with two standards...one for a black old senile coot and one for a white old senile coot." It depicts Obama during an interview with MSNBC's David Gregory last year, saying that he believed Don Imus should be fired for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy headed hos." It compares that statement to various Obama quotes sympathetic to Jeremiah Wright.
Habeed told me that an upcoming video will ridicule Chris Matthews for supposedly supporting Obama, and will poke fun at
Matthews Obama for dancing on air with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. (Pssst...Ellen is a lesbian!) "You'll die laughing!" Habeeb gushed, but then sort of lost me when he explained that by using "Who Let the Dogs Out" as the soundtrack, "We're going to imply that Chris Matthews left broadcasting to be a rapper!"