CNN’s Anderson Cooper and correspondent Drew Griffin have done some digging into the ongoing claim that Barack Obama had a negligible relationship with former Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers. The Obama campaign’s claim that the 1995 political event at the home of Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn that launched Obama’s public career was a coincidental meeting of Obama and Ayers, arranged by Ayers and Obama’s political patron and predecessor, State Sen. Alice Palmer, and that Obama was simply a bystander, also comes under scrutiny. The upshot? CNN is not convinced.
In what Captain Ed calls a “random act of journalism” by CNN, Griffin does the following:
- puts the lie to the Obama camp’s image of a fleeting relationship between Obama and Ayers, in favor of a documented story of a close collaboration over many years between them on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the Woods Fund;
- gives airtime to Stanley Kurtz, the scholar and writer who broke through the wall of bureaucratic red tape thrown up around the CAC archives and found out the true nature and extent of that relationship (including some eyebrow-raising educational approaches spearheaded by Ayers and subsequently funded by Obama, the chairman);
- relies on witnesses at the 1995 event at Ayers’ and Dohrn’s home, including former State Sen. Palmer herself, in concluding that Palmer played only a peripheral role in the event, having simply been invited and made an appearance for a few minutes, and was not responsible for arranging it as Obama has claimed. That event was by Obama, of Obama, and for Obama.
Kurtz has had a lot of trouble getting media attention paid to his hard work investigating the connection between Obama and Ayers. When he was invited onto a radio talk show in Chicago, Obama partisans flooded the phone lines with calls hostile to Kurtz in an effort to shut the interview down. (The station, WGN, had called the Obama campaign office to offer them equal time during the show; they refused, but used the advance notice to email supporters, rallying them to smother the interview.) To see CNN give time to Kurtz in a setting immune to grassroots thuggery is refreshing, to say the least.
I’m still betting against McCain bringing up this subject at tonight’s debate unless one of the audience members brings it up (the debate will follow a town hall format with audience questions), but the story of Obama and Ayers now has sturdier legs than it had before, now that news organs like CNN are finally starting to take this question seriously. I’m sure that Hillary Clinton, who also brought up the subject of Obama’s shady friends during the primary, is savoring the bitter irony.