All in all, I like Politico's list of the Top Ten Media Blunders of 2008, by staff writer Michael Calderone, appearing on the website this evening. How can you be too tough on a list that includes, among other faux pas:
MSNBC's use of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as election night and convention co-anchors;
The New York Times's suggestive but unsubstantiated story about John McCain and lobbyist Vikki Iseman; and
The MSM's lack of curiosity despite the National Enquirer's solid reporting on the John Edwards affair?
But no story about a list would be complete without some beefing and second-guessing, and I have some. Here's blunder #6 on the Politico list [emphasis added]:
Chris Matthews invited Bill Ayers on Wednesday night's "Hardball," and actually confronted him about his bombing of Capitol Hill during his days as a member of the '60s terrorist group Weather Underground, as the former Capitol Hill police officer emotionally observed: "I was a Capitol policeman at the time, so I was one of the guys that could have been killed obviously at the time you put that, your guys put that bomb in there. So I have a little personal interest. It wasn't just vandalism. To me it was life-threatening to the guys I worked with. And there were some pretty good guys working there."
However Matthews, who paradoxically may not even be alive to conduct this interview today if the Weather Underground's bombs were more devastating, devoted most of the interview tossing softballs Ayers' way, as the two often agreed with each other on Barack Obama and Iraq policy as the "Hardball" host pointed out they only really differed on how to spread their points of view: "Well, Mr. Ayers, with all due respect, you agitate your way, I agitate my way."
In part two of "Good Morning America's" Friday interview with former bomber William Ayers, news anchor Chris Cuomo did challenge the ex-'60s radical on whether or not he was a terrorist. But after Ayers contended, "It's not terrorism because it doesn't target people. It doesn't target people to either kill or injure," the journalist failed to offer specifics that would refute that point. Cuomo could have easily cited the example of John Murtagh. He was a child in 1970 when the Weather Underground, founded by Mr. Ayers, placed multiple bombs, one underneath the gas tank of the family car, at the home of his New York judge father.
In a New York Daily News op-ed on April 30, 2008, Murtagh wrote, "I was only 9 then, the year Ayers' Weathermen tried to murder me." However, while not pressing Ayers on specific victims, he did skeptically wonder, "How can a sophisticated academic like yourself believe that the inherent recklessness of exploding bombs that you know too well killed three of your own- you know the potential for deadliness there."
"Good Morning America" news anchor Chris Cuomo on Friday conducted an interview with former bomber William Ayers that qualified as neither a softball or a grilling of the ex-domestic terrorist. Although he did challenge Ayers, he didn't interrupt when the Chicago professor insisted that America fought a "violent terrorist war" or when the '60s radical characterized the U.S. government as murdering thousands "every month" during Vietnam.
Additionally, the online version of the ABC story referred to Ayers as a "campaign boogeyman," while co-host Diane Sawyer in an introduction for the piece defensively explained, "The name of Bill Ayers, William Ayers, was used as kind of a political weapon by the Republicans." During the segment, Cuomo even editorialized that Ayers is now a "respected professor" at the University of Illinois. Respected, perhaps, by leftists and radicals, but many Americans still hold great anger towards Ayers and his terrorist group the Weather Underground. Cuomo also failed to delve into the issue of Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), a liberal organization that Barack Obama served on the board of and was the brainchild of Ayers.
On the other hand, Cuomo did not let Ayers get away with his insinuation that he had no real connection to the now-President-elect. Referring to the often repeated story that Obama began his campaign for the state senate in the living room of Ayers, Cuomo challenged, "You can't say that somebody's a family friend, have them in your house, trying to launch their political career and then say this is nothing." Later, after Ayers tried to minimize the extent of his relationship with the Illinois Democrat, Cuomo retorted, "But, then you have to come clean about saying, 'And I'm one of those people. Barack Obama either sought me out or I sought him out to discuss my ideas, my radical ideas and then he made his own decisions.'" The journalist added, "If that's true, okay. But, it can't be that and, 'We never discussed any of this.'"
Isn't this convenient? Finally, more than a week after Election Day, Chris Cuomo of ABC News' "Good Morning America" puts together a fairly hard-hitting look at terrorist William Ayers, the would-be mass murderer, who helped to launch the career of then-Illinois state senate candidate Barack Obama.
Now that it hardly matters anymore politically, now that Obama has secured at least 365 of the 538 votes in the Electoral College, Cuomo finally decides it's time to be a journalist and asks Bill Ayers hard questions over and over again. It's not a bad interview, but wouldn't it have had more news value a few weeks ago when Americans were weighing the content of now-President-elect Obama's character? (Article on GMA website here summarizes the interview.)
In a new afterword to his memoir, 1960s radical William Ayers describes himself as a "family friend" of President-elect Barack Obama and writes that the campaign controversy over their relationship was an effort by Obama's political enemies to "deepen a dishonest narrative" about the candidate.
Perhaps the unrepentant domestic terrorist friend of Barack Obama did his part avoiding the media, but most of the media certainly lacked in pursuing him. Suddenly, now that that Barack Obama has been elected, the media are interested in extending this America hater’s fifteen minutes of fame. Good Morning America is promoting their exclusive interview with Bill Ayers, which will most likely be a puff-piece interview touting how he is really a harmless professor who lives in Obama’s neighborhood. Maybe they will let him promote his newly reissued book on the Weather Underground too! If so, perhaps they will ask him about this interesting quote in the book’s new afterword:
We had served together on the board of a foundation, knew one another as neighbors and family friends, held an initial fund-raiser at my house, where I’d made a small donation to his earliest political campaign,” he writes.
On Thursday's "Good Morning America," ABC hosts touted the show's exclusive interview on Friday with bomber William Ayers. During the presidential campaign, the program (and network) largely downplayed or sympathetically reported on the connection between the domestic terrorist and (then) Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. So, it will be interesting to see if GMA co-host Chris Cuomo grills Ayers or tosses softballs.
An ad for the piece promised "Tough questions asked and answered." Yet, at the end of Thursday's program, Sawyer more sympathetically teased, "And also tomorrow, the man who's name became such a political football during the campaign." On April 17, 2008, "Good Morning America" reporter David Wright minimized the relationship and asserted that candidate Obama was facing questions "about a neighbor of his who was once a member of the violent Weather Underground." (Of course, considering that an Obama staffer described the two men as "friendly" and since Obama accepted a campaign donation from Ayers in 2001, describing Ayers as simply a "neighbor" is rather inaccurate, to say the least.)
On Wednesday’s Newsroom program, a report by CNN correspondent Joe Johns, along with a subsequent interview by anchor Rick Sanchez, raised the implication that anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, particularly from conservatives, might be partially to blame for a spike in so-called hate crimes against Latinos. During a clip in Johns’ report, which was about the recent murder of an immigrant from Ecuador by teenagers, columnist Ruben Navarrette speculated that "[w]hen people go out on the airwaves or in print or at the stump as a politician, and they beat that drum, they shouldn’t be surprised. At the end of the day, many people out there, and particularly young people, who are very impressionable, think, ‘Hey, you know what? This is one group we can do this to.’" At the end of his report, Johns added that "[t]he question that’s already being raised by activist groups in the newspapers is whether anti-immigrant rhetoric has created a climate for this kind of thing."
After the report, Sanchez interviewed Mark Potok of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, who added that "really, racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda....have made their way out into the larger anti-immigration movement -- the Minutemen groups and so on. And before you know it, they are on talk radio, they are on some cable news talk shows." Strangely, the CNN anchor then went on a bit of a tangent by bringing how Newsweek recently reported that "the Secret Service has now confirmed that threats against Barack Obama spiked when Sarah Palin began impugning his patriotism."
As press members on both sides of the aisle continue their feeding frenzy on Sarah Palin, it seems almost poetic that a liberal, lesbian feminist would be staunchly coming to her defense while aggressively criticizing the media's treatment of her as well as their absurd disinterest in some of the scandals surrounding Barack Obama.
Yet, once again, Camille Paglia is doing exactly that with a Salon column that should be an absolute must-read for all Americans irrespective of party affiliation.
Although this masterpiece should truly be read in its full glory, below are some of the highlights to stoke your curiosity (emphasis added):
Ah, the land of lollipops and unicorns has descended upon us now that the savior has won the election.
Perhaps with the safety of the completed election securely behind, Peter Slevin of the Washington Post did a very cutesy article covering the not-so-cutesy terrorist, Bill Ayers.
Ayers was gracious enough to come out of the woodwork to offer his viewpoints on the Republicans demonizing him during the campaign.
"Pal around together? What does that mean? Share a milkshake with two straws?" Ayers said.
No William, palling around together might include one pal giving another a glowing review of their book, or perhaps the two of you serving together on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, or maybe even inviting Obama over to your home to help launch his political career. Hell, who's to say Bernardine Dohrn wasn't serving up milkshakes in your living room at the time? But maybe we're just splitting hairs on defining the term ‘pal.'
The mainstream media are willfully ignoring many questionable ties and friendships of Barack Obama. The list does not end with the radical racist preacher Jeremiah Wright and unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers. They have totally ignored Obama campaigning for the socialist revolutionary Raila Odinga in Kenya. They have also ignored his ties with radical Islamic extremist Khalid Al Masour.
LA Times takes things to the next level. They are going beyond the level of ignoring to the level of willfully witholding informative evidence from the public. The associate of Barack Obama in question this time is Rashid Khalidi, a former PLO operative and best friend of William Ayers. The LA times has a video of Barack Obama toasting this friend of his while attending a Jew bashing dinner, and they are refusing to release the video to the public.
In “Something New Here,” I laid out Barack Obama’s ties to the far-left New Party. Blogger Trevor Loudon, of New Zeal, did the pioneering work on this issue. Today, Loudon has posted good quality scans of New Party documents and pictures confirming Obama’s membership. We’ve seen most of this information before (although only recently), but never so clearly.
CNN contributor Roland Martin’s Wednesday column on CNN.com bluntly accused Republicans of exhibiting "fear and desperation" in their criticism of Barack Obama: "McCain's campaign is no longer about issues. He and his supporters want to bring up anything and everything to derail Obama, and nothing is sticking, so they just keep returning to their old bag of tricks." This "bag" apparently includes bringing up issues like Obama’s 20-year relationship with left-wing firebrand Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the socialist labeling of the Democratic presidential candidate, and his associations with terrorist Bill Ayers and ACORN.
Martin first labeled McCain an "old fighter," but not as a compliment: "Watching Sen. John McCain and top Republicans swing wildly in their attempts to slam Sen. Barack Obama, with less than two weeks ago to go before Election Day, is like watching an old fighter -- clearly out of gas, his legs turned to rubber, and all he can do is grab, hold, punch behind the back, just anything to try to win." He then used his "old bag of tricks" line.
Describing John McCain's alleged rationale for not mentioning '60s radical William Ayers in the second presidential debate, rising liberal media darling Rachel Maddow recently attributed a dubious quote to McCain -- "I didn't have the guts."
Wow -- McCain said that? Well, not exactly.
Maddow, making the assertion during a broadcast of her Air America Radio show, cited politicalwire.com as her source. Here's how it was reported at politicalwire.com on Oct. 14 in a brief post titled, "McCain Pledges to Bring Up Ayers in Debate" --
It appears Sen. John McCain will take Sen. Barack Obama up on his challenge.
In an interview on a St. Louis radio station, McCain said Obama's comments that "I didn't have the guts" to talk about William Ayers in the last presidential debate have "probably ensured" that the former 1960s radical will come up in Wednesday's debate.
In other words, McCain stated the words, "I didn't have the guts," at least according to politicalwire.com -- but McCain was quoting Obama saying this about him, McCain.
Who you choose to surround yourself with makes you what you are and we already know Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama's associations with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and William Ayers.
Two recent finds noted by bloggers have put further dents in the Obama campaign's core claim about its candidate's relationship with Bill Ayers, the unapologetic domestic terrorist who has not ruled out recidivism, as seen here at Obama's FightTheSmears.com home page:
The first was discovered by SeeDubya, former weekend blogger at Michelle Malkin's site. SeeDubya came out of retirement for one morning to note a neighborly reference to Obama by Ayers in the former Weather Underground leader's 1998 book on parenting.
The second is the revelation by blogger Verum Serum that Obama and Ayers were located on the same floor of a what I can show was a small building -- for three years.
Someone should explain to ABC: it ain't "dirty" if it's true. GMA got the collective vapors this morning over the robo-calls the RNC and McCain campaign are making, informing voters of Barack Obama's close association with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers.
In GMA's book, there's no real difference between these calls—which Cokie Roberts alluded to as "dirtier" tactics—and the calls made against McCain during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary.
Except there is a difference. A big, fundamental one: what's said in the current calls is true. Obama did work closely with Ayers. What was said in the 2000 calls against McCain in South Carolina was false: he didn't father a black child out of wedlock. He and wife Cindy adopted a Bangladeshi child.
I think he said "I wished we had done more." He never said "bomb more." I think you have to be careful there. In terms of anti-war activism . . . Let's get the facts straight . . . He didn't say he wished he had bombed more. -- Chris Matthews to Pat Buchanan, Hardball, October 17, 2008
''I don't regret setting bombs,'' Bill Ayers said. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'' -- from No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives, New York Times, September 11, 2001
Trying to defend Barack Obama's association with Bill Ayers, Chris Matthews has tried to distort Ayers's words that by fate were published in the New York Times on September 11, 2001. According to the Hardball host, when Ayers told the Times that he "wished we had done more," he meant only anti-war activism, not bombing. A lot of things were destroyed on 9-11, but unfortunately for Matthews, not the online edition of that New York Times article. It survives and can be seen here and in an image after the jump.
They [the RNC] are calling voters, cold calls, and saying to them, what about William Ayers and the close working relationship he had [with Obama], which is not true by anybody's count . . . It certainly is a mischaracterization of the relationship. -- Andrea Mitchell to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), MSNBC 10-17-08.
Andrea Mitchell, meet Stanley Kurtz . . .
It's turning into Andrea Mitchell Day here. Earlier, I noted how Mitchell, measuring the drapes for Obama, predicted that he would run a "bipartisan" administration. Now Mitchell has ridden to Obama's defense, denying that he ever worked closely with Wiliam Ayers.
[See update below for how Toobin did the same thing later in the evening.]
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin brushed aside the issues of Barack Obama’s affiliation with left-wing terrorist William Ayers and the liberal group ACORN during a roundtable discussion on Wednesday’s Situation Room program: "Who cares about ACORN? Who cares about Bill Ayers? I mean, I just don't get this. What is the point of raising that?" When CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger countered by trying to show the relevance of these affiliations, that "he has given lots of different stories on Ayers, and that his affiliation with ACORN, as a group that they think now has been discredited," Toobin went further: "But he doesn't have an affiliation with ACORN." When both Borger and host Wolf Blitzer both affirmed that he did have ties to the organization, Toobin backtracked: "...I stand corrected on that, but I just don't see why that is going to move voters?"
Toobin must not be watching his own network, for CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin outlined on October 6 how "the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said," including how the two worked together on the board of the Annenberg Challenge Project and the Woods Foundation, and how Obama’s political career began during a meeting at Ayers’s house. While the network omitted ACORN’s name from an October 9 news brief about a raid on the organization’s Las Vegas office, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story about the raid acknowledged how ACORN "has a liberal political agenda and ties to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama."
Imagine that Chris Matthews was interviewing the former head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, someone who helped engineer the election of a Republican House member after the incumbent Dem had been caught in a sex scandal. Now imagine that same Republican was currently stuck in a sex scandal of his own, and just that afternoon a credible report emerged that he might drop out of the race. What are the odds Matthews wouldn't have raised the new scandal with the former RCCC chairman? About as good as Keith Olbermann suddenly endorsing McCain-Palin after tonight's debate, you say? Agreed.
Yet when Matthews had Rahm Emanuel on his show this evening, the Hardball host failed to raise the matter of Tim Mahoney with Emanuel, the hyper-partisan Dem and former DCCC chairman. This despite the Politico's report that Mahoney might be dropping out, he who won Mark Foley's seat after the Republican was forced out of the race in 2006 after sordid details emerged of his text messaging with male House pages.
There was one amusing moment: after defending William Ayers as a "distinguished professor," Emanuel balked at calling him a "good guy" on the grounds he didn't know him. Right.
CBS political correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who after last week's second presidential debate lashed out at John McCain for referring to Barack Obama as “that one” (“Was it demeaning? Was it an insult?”), just over two hours before the third and final debate suggested McCain should not bring up Williams Ayers or Jeremiah Wright -- and he used far-left/conservative-hating New York Times columnist Frank Rich, who he at least tagged a “liberal,” as one of his experts. Citing Ayers and Sarah Palin's attack on Obama for “palling around” with him, Greenfield asked: “Is all this fair game? Yes, says a conservative writer.” That would be National Review's Byron York, but Greenfield countered him with two others, asserting: “It's dangerous, argues a liberal columnist.” Frank Rich presumed Greenfield (who could be seen talking to Rich) shares his views (“You or I may not agree with it”) as he scolded McCain:
If he wants to say your association with Jeremiah Wright or with William Ayers because they're too left wing or anti-American, whatever. That's all fine. You or I may not agree with it, but it's different from calling someone an -- being involved with active terrorists, palling around with terrorists. That's the line.
Greenfield followed with how “a one-time Ronald Reagan speechwriter says the tone strikes a discordant note.” That would be Peggy Noonan.
The Tribune notes that the door or William Ayers is decorated with pictures of celebrated cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and murderous Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. These pictures alone contradict the narrative that William Ayers is somehow a repentant former radical:
Sean Hannity is a "dangerous, dangerous force in America," says "View" co-host Joy Behar. This was sparked, on the October 13 edition, by a discussion of Andy Martin spreading rumors about Obama’s background and an interview on "Hannity’s America." Elisabeth Hasselbeck reported that she spoke with Sean Hannity, who says he condemns Mr. Martin’s actions, and has controversial figures of all political stripes including Reverend Wright.
When Sherri Shepherd proclaimed it is no different than Obama’s condemnation of William Ayers, Elisabeth reminded that panel that a television interview is different than sitting on a board. Whoopi Goldberg immediately pounced on the comment and told Elisabeth to go to FactCheck.com (perhaps she meant FactCheck.org?). In a pot and kettle moment, Joy Behar, who has a history of airing falseinformation on "The View," chastised Elisabeth to "not say it unless you’re sure what you’re talking about."
Later in the program, Joy Behar went on a rant against Sarah Palin, noting alleged cronyism and in another pot and kettle moment, Behar opined that Palin "overuses her power and underuses her brain."
On August 27, 1996, in the midst of that year's Democratic National Convention in the Windy City, the Chicago Tribune had interesting news (posted in full at my web host for fair use and discussion purposes) about what was then a new Internet initiative.
That Tribune story serves to confirm why the distancing from and supposed ignorance of the past activities of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn by presidential candidate Barack Obama and other members of the Democratic Party ring very hollow.
James Coates's Tribune piece begins with an all-too-typical whitewash of the pair's violent past. But what's revealing is what Ayers and Dohrn were involved with, and who else was involved with them (bolds are mine):
Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers took to the streets 28 years ago to protest what they considered the injustices in the world, especially the war in Vietnam.
The former leaders of the Weather Underground still are fighting injustice, but--adapting to the changing landscape of American politics--their current arena is the World Wide Web.
Downplaying William Ayers came naturally in The Washington Post on Saturday. A picture on page A8 was captioned "John McCain has criticized his rival's ties to former radical William Ayers." Former bomber might be correct, but certainly not former radical.
It came in a story that mostly concerned how McCain isn't dwelling on Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, from Steven Holmes and Michael Shear. One unnamed GOP adviser said Wright was a better target and joked, "Most people these days think the Weather Underground is a band."
Ayers also came up in a different Shear story on A4 (but no picture). Shear Called Ayers "a Vietnam War-era radical" and explained the Weather Underground "bombed U.S. facilities in protest of the Vietnam War." The Pentagon and the Capitol went unmentioned.