On the eve of the first presidential debate, conservative media outlets seized on footage of a five-year-old, widely covered speech by then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, who argued at the time that the federal government discriminated against Hurricane Katrina victims.
The June 2007 speech at Hampton University in Virginia was widely covered by CNN and other news outlets, as Obama was already well into his presidential campaign, running alongside then-Sen. Hillary Clinton at the front of the polls.
However, the conservative news outlets that pushed the video Tuesday night argued the media skipped over portions of the speech.
Speaking to a largely black audience, Obama in the video made the case that race relations still had a long way to go in the United States, claiming the divide most severely has an impact on impoverished parts of the country.
The 2007 event was open to the press, and CNN affiliate WAVY recorded the full speech. The crux of his speech was reported by CNN at the time on air and online.
The speech was reported on or discussed multiple times on CNN over a three day period.
Segments aired on the "The Situation Room" and CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" on June 5, 2007, which was also the day of a CNN Republican presidential debate.
The next day, CNN anchor Paula Zahn noted in her program, "Because of the Republican debate, you might have missed a new controversy involving Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama." Her program, "Paula Zahn Now," included a report on the comments and a panel discussion. A report by CNN Correspondent Mary Snow on the racial aspect of the comments also ran on CNN that day.
Clips of Obama's speech also aired on CNN "Newsroom" at least twice on June 7, 2007.
Five years later, CNN Senior Political Analyst and National Journal Editorial Director Ron Brownstein pointed out on CNN's "Newsroom" Wednesday morning that the speech was widely covered not only by CNN, but by others.
"This was hardly a secret tape," he said. "It's in the tape library of most of the networks, including CNN. It was discussed not only with [Fox News commentator and conservative] Tucker [Carlson] but on Fox. ABC talked about it."
In the re-circulated version of the video Tuesday conservatives especially jumped on a moment in the speech when the president appeared to stray away from his prepared remarks and blast the government for allegedly treating victims of the Sept. 11 attacks differently than those of Hurricane Katrina.
In the speech, delivered before a minister's conference, Obama first spelled out a provision in the Stafford Act that requires local and state governments to match a certain percentage of federal funds provided for emergency assistance. The law currently says those state and local governments must share 25% or less of the cost of "essential assistance."
"Some states, for example, have established a 15% local and a 10% state match combination," the law stipulates.
Obama, however, slammed the government for not waiving the matching funds in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.
"Now here's the thing, when 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act -- said, 'This is too serious a problem. We can't expect New York City to rebuild on its own'," Obama said, growing emotional. "And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, 'Look at this devastation. We don't expect you to come up with y'own money, here. Here's the money to rebuild. We're not gonna wait for you to scratch it together -- because you're part of the American family'."
He continued: "What's happening down in New Orleans? 'Where's your dollar? Where's your Stafford Act money?' Makes no sense. Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans, they don't care about as much!"
In the years since Katrina, the government has taken steps to expedite assistance and funds to the ravaged Gulf Coast. As of the disaster's seventh anniversary, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had spent $19.1 billion in Louisiana alone to help victims of Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
Critics also highlighted comments Obama made about his pastor at the time, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Standing on stage, Obama pointed to Wright in the audience and described him as "the guy who puts up with me, counsels me, listens to my wife complain about me."
"He's a friend and a great leader. Not just in Chicago, but all across the country," he added.
Less than a year later, the presidential candidate would be forced to distance himself from Wright after video emerged of the reverend making controversial comments about race in a sermon.
Some conservatives argued Obama's 2007 praise of Wright represented his true feelings about the pastor.
Throughout the 2007 remarks, Obama called for more investment and job training in poor communities and minority-owned businesses. His speech was targeted to his audience and tailored with themes of "hope" and "overcoming obstacles" that are traditionally heard in black churches.
The then-senator ended his remarks, saying: "America will survive. Just like black folks will survive. We won't forget where we came from. We won't forget what happened 19 months ago, or 15 years ago, or 300 years ago."
Conservative blogs and news websites lit up Tuesday afternoon when the right-leaning news aggregator, Drudge Report, first alerted that a television network would be releasing "curious tape" that would "ignite accusations of racism--in both directions."