Gray Lady on Ayers-Obama connection: Nothing to see here. Move along.

posted at 10:20 am on October 4, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

We’ve been waiting for the mainstream media to apply one-tenth of the investigative power that they’ve put into Wasilla probing Sarah Palin into Chicago to check on Barack Obama.  The New York Times offers about that — a tenth of an effort — into exploring Obama’s connections to William Ayers.  Despite the fact that Obama worked for Ayers at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge for several years and with Ayers on the Woods Fund for a few more, the Paper of Record insists that the two men have no real ties at all.

The first clue as to their spin?  The headline — “Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths”.  Crossed paths?  Are they just two ships that passed in the night?

At a tumultuous meeting of anti-Vietnam War militants at the Chicago Coliseum in 1969, Bill Ayers helped found the radical Weathermen, launching a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and United States Capitol.

Twenty-six years later, at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper, Barack Obama met Mr. Ayers, by then an education professor. Their paths have crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama’s first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors.

How can Scott Shane write with a straight face that “[t]heir paths have crossed sporadically since then”?  Obama worked as CEO of the project that Ayers helped found, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, for several years.  Ayers served on the board at the same time.  In an overlapping period, both men served for a few years on the Woods Fund, which notably granted $75,000 to Yasser Arafat’s associate, Rashid Khalidi, during that time.

Their paths didn’t cross “sporadically”.  They worked on two projects together, political projects, for almost a decade in Chicago.  That’s hardly “sporadic”; that’s a well-established working relationship, and certainly much more substantial than Obama’s description of Ayers as just another familiar face in the neighborhood.

Shane mentions the understated nature of Obama’s description:

More recently, conservative critics who accuse Mr. Obama of a stealth radical agenda have asserted that he has misleadingly minimized his relationship with Mr. Ayers, whom the candidate has dismissed as “a guy who lives in my neighborhood” and “somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know.”

A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close.

How close does Obama have to be to make this connection a valid point?  The two men worked together on political projects in Chicago.  The issue has nothing to do with the quality of their friendship, if one exists (and there seems to be some evidence of one), but with the kind of work the two men did together.  Ayers still agitates for the overthrow of the capitalist system, and his educational project was designed to create little charter schools for churning out radicals.

Why didn’t Shane bother to do some of the work Stanley Kurtz had to fight Richard Daley and the Chicago Machine to do?  I guess Shane was more interested in putting out stories about “sporadic” contact that discourages further looks into Barack Obama’s political work, his associates in that work, and the direction it took.

Would John McCain get the same kind of pass?  Shane at least at the intellectual honesty to include this:

Steve Chapman, a columnist for The Chicago Tribune, defended Mr. Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his longtime pastor, whose black liberation theology and “God damn America” sermon became notorious last spring. But he denounced Mr. Obama for associating with Mr. Ayers, whom he said the University of Illinois should never have hired.

“I don’t think there’s a statute of limitations on terrorist bombings,” Mr. Chapman said in an interview, speaking not of the law but of political and moral implications.

“If you’re in public life, you ought to say, ‘I don’t want to be associated with this guy,’ ” Mr. Chapman said. “If John McCain had a long association with a guy who’d bombed abortion clinics, I don’t think people would say, ‘That’s ancient history.’ ”

If John McCain had spent ten years on charitable boards with someone less egregious than abortion bombers — say, with Randall Terry of Operation Rescue — the New York Times would have Page One, in-depth reporting, complete with teams of reporters combing through the minutes of the board meetings.  Hell, the New York Times infamously smeared McCain with allegations of a sexual affair based on nothing but gossip from two disgruntled ex-staffers last February, and spent days rolling that out, using four reporters on the story.  For the Obama/Ayers connection, they have Scott Shane telling us that there’s nothing to see here.

Great reporting.  Thanks for nothing.

Update: Color Tom Maguire unimpressed with the Times’ effort.  Ditto for Steve Diamond.

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Stanley Kurtz responds.

Buy Danish on October 4, 2008 at 4:50 PM

I guess Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat’s paths just crossed ‘sporadically’, since they worked together for fewer years on just a minor project, than that of Ayers and Obama.

eaglewingz08 on October 4, 2008 at 5:01 PM

Great point from Kurtz:

Most remarkably of all, Shane seems to paper over the results of his own questioning. On the one hand, toward the end of the piece we read: “Since 2002, there is little public evidence of their relationship.” And it’s no wonder, says Shane, since Ayers was caught expressing no regret for his own past terrorism in an article published on September 11, 2001. Yet earlier in Shane’s article we learn that, according to Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt, Obama and Ayers “have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in the United States Senate in January 2005.” Very interesting. Obama’s own spokesman has just left open the possibility that there has indeed been phone and e-mail contact between the two men between 2002 and 2004, well after Ayers’ infamous conduct on 9/11. Yet instead of pursuing this opening, Shane ignores the findings of his own investigation and covers for Obama.

Buy Danish on October 4, 2008 at 6:09 PM

And if you believe this article, I have some stocks in the NYT I want to sell.

Wade on October 4, 2008 at 6:10 PM

HuffPo weighs in:

Every time I think of William Ayers, I also think of John McCain, because they are of the same era, and they both believed in the efficacy of violence. According to an article in Friday’s New York Times, McCain once said of Ayers, “How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?” He had to use that “could have or did” because no one knows if bombs Ayers built actually killed anyone — let’s say that the odds are against it. Likewise, no one knows whether the bombs John McCain dropped on North Vietnam ever killed anyone…

Buy Danish on October 4, 2008 at 6:21 PM

Gray Lady providing cover for black-and-white candidate.

Seems appropriate.

fogw on October 4, 2008 at 6:28 PM

Buy Danish on October 4, 2008 at 6:21 PM

That’s an astonishing quote. Hey terrorist kill people, American military kills people, so what’s the big difference?

These guys are evil.

Mojave Mark on October 4, 2008 at 7:19 PM

some one has to listen to Sean Hannity goes through this point by point.

OriginalPechangas_son on October 4, 2008 at 7:27 PM

I thought that Pinch and Billy Keller (maybe Helen) were indorsing Hitlery and John McCain.
Was Rush right that they would revert to true form after the primary and throw all their guns in back of 0sama?
Maybe some day after we are all dead they will put the editorials on the opinion page.

Amazed on October 4, 2008 at 9:00 PM

It’s rather astonishing and coincidental that this would be in the paper of record, during this weekend. I guess the NYT can now again say that they have reported on Bill Ayers and Barack Obama and move along.
I joined a few dear friends today that I hadn’t seen in a number of months for some drinking in Boston. None of them had ever heard of Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dorne, The Chicago Annenburg Challenge, The Weather Underground, etc… They were completely ignorant about it. I was shocked, shocked I tell you. I tried to convey the significance of this association, but they weren’t hearing or comprehending my deep concern for this tiny (in their view) issue.
I came away from today’s discussion with them, three important NH voters and one lost Maineiac, that we are indeed screwed.

rslancer14 on October 4, 2008 at 11:18 PM

It’s difficult to tolerate the segment of the American public that PT Barnum was talking about.

The Reverend Wright controversy got tons of traction only because there were VIDEOS. Didn’t require any sort of analysis by reading, just watching.

But now we have a situation where Obama Osama really appears to be up to his neck in excrement. There is so much there, there about the Ayers relationshio. Enough to warrant call-in attacks on two occasions during Chicago radio interviews with Fedderico (sp?) and Stanley Kurtz. The Obama camp wanted those two guys silenced and put out the call-in hit. And as a result, the bots performed and verbally assaulted both the host and the guests.

Now we have the NYT cover piece, as they sense that Johny Mac may be taking the gloves off.

Unfortunately, since we don’t have Smokin’ Gun type video, the American Sheeple just won’t get the Ayers controversy. Just like they are unable to associate democratic guilt with the financial crisis.

McCain better get out that can of whoopas, unscrew the cap and let that skinny biatch boy have it.

If he doesn’t, the world is going to CHANGE and we will be screwed, beyond belief.

PC14 on October 5, 2008 at 12:11 AM

The most important question to be answered is where did the $100M grant money go? Where? There has to be an accounting of that money per the foundation, right?

Sergei on October 5, 2008 at 12:29 AM

These guys are evil.

Mojave Mark on October 4, 2008 at 7:19 PM

Here’s more!

But, of course, John McCain’s defense is that he was performing his patriotic duty, and that’s what William Ayers would have said, too.

Buy Danish on October 5, 2008 at 7:40 AM

The Weather Underground killed at least three people and intended to kill thousands more. The fact they did not is testament to some incompetence on their part (not for lack of trying) and to incredible luck on our part. Had we averted the WTC act of war in 2001, by arresting the co conspirators, I’m sure the NYSlimes would have pooh poohed the plot as fantastic and a neocon fantasy, and would have claimed it was islamophobic to prosecute those nineteen individuals. The Slimes is shameless and there is a special place in hell for Scott Shane and his enablers at the Slimes.

eaglewingz08 on October 5, 2008 at 11:12 AM


The really egregious point about the NY Times article, is that it gives cover to the rest of the mainstream press to not only question, but to even ridicule Sarah Palin when she makes the valid connection between the two men!

For example, Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP has written a story, “Palin Says Obama “Palling Around With Terrorists,” in which he notes:

Palin’s reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members took credit for bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, during the tumultuous Vietnam War era four decades ago. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, served on a charity board with Ayers several years ago and has denounced his radical views and activities.

and later, more to the point:

Palin cited a New York Times story published Saturday that detailed Obama’s relationship with Ayers. In an interview with CBS News earlier in the week, Palin didn’t name any newspapers or magazines that had shaped her view of the world.Summing up its findings, the Times wrote: “A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called ‘somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.'” (my emphasis

In other words, AP, which has national leverage, is directly asserting that the NY Times already disproved her “questionable” claim!

Had there been no other stories or research to the contrary, that might have been a standard press response from a lazy AP reporter.

But how does Kuhnhenn get around Kurtz, or Diamond, or any of several prominent writers who have done original research and proved otherwise? How does he get around the fundraiser alone, in saying they are nat particularly close?

I think the right word is “propaganda.”

And, I don’t recall Sarah Palin limiting her claim to just one terrorism friendly radical. Just for starters, Bernadine Dohrn and Mike Klonsky come to mind!

Trochilus on October 5, 2008 at 11:26 AM

And now, the obligatory “It’s racist!” crap from the AP.

Since when is calling out Obama’s unrepentant domestic terrorist pals “racist” — pals of his who became his pals well AFTER those bombings took place, and which he knew or should have known had taken place (it was in all the papers)?

They did indeed bomb several facilities here in the United States, and tried in other instances. But Barry and his pal Ayers participated in funding them — e.g., Klonsky. Barry even gave Klonsky a “leveraged” microphone on his website!

Trochilus on October 5, 2008 at 12:19 PM

And, I don’t recall Sarah Palin limiting her claim to just one terrorism friendly radical. Just for starters, Bernadine Dohrn and Mike Klonsky come to mind!

Trochilus on October 5, 2008 at 11:26 AM

Exactly. Klonsky’s role as Obama’s Communist blogger and as the recipient of the CAC’s largesse is one of the most important, yet largely untold, stories of this election.

As for Dohrn the McCain campaign should have an ad using this audio & video footage, using her own voice saying, “Hello, I’m going to read a declaration of a state of war…”

Buy Danish on October 5, 2008 at 2:01 PM

Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP writes about

nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol

What about

San Francisco Police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell who was killed by a pipe bomb set off on the window ledge of the San Francisco Police Department Park Station on February 16, 1970.

It is suspected that Obama’s neighbor and Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was involved.

slp on October 6, 2008 at 9:40 AM