Times Editor Mocks Conservative "Stalker" of Domestic Terrorist Bill Ayers

Under the headline "Stalking William Ayers," the paper's online political editor Kate Phillips mocks a conservative blogger for asking early-70's violent radical Bill Ayers if he was Obama's ghost-writer for his memoir, "Dreams From My Father."

Kate Phillips, editor and reliably pro-Democratic contributor to the paper's political blog "The Caucus," broke into the print edition with an updated version of her Wednesday afternoon posting, "Stalking William Ayers," on a conservative blogger's airport confrontation with domestic terrorist and Obama friend Bill Ayers, cofounder of the violent radical early-70s group Weather Underground.

During the presidential campaign, the Times defended candidate Obama against allegations of close ties to Ayers, and Phillips continued the trend in her Wednesday post mocking a conservative blogger, Anne Leary. She dared to ask Ayers, who now makes his living in Chicago as an "education theorist," if he was the ghost writer for Obama's first memoir, "Dreams From My Father."

Even the headline connoted something unseemly about the confrontation: "Stalking William Ayers." It read a lot like reporting to me. Then again, the Times didn't do much of that when Ayers became an issue during the campaign.

Phillips doesn't get into Ayers' previous and unrepentant life of domestic terrorism. In a Times story that ran on September 11, 2001, Ayers said: "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough." Also unmentioned were the Weather Underground bombing of government buildings during the 1970s, including a bombing in the U.S. Capitol. Phillips simply called Ayers a "radical" - the same word Times editor Sam Tanenhaus has used to describe tea party protesters -in her Wednesday afternoon "Caucus" post:

Read this rather breathless account of an admission wrested from William Ayers at Reagan National Airport, during an ambush moment by blogger Anne Leary, the "BackyardConservative."

Indeed, stopped by a relative stranger after attending an education conference in Arlington, Va., Mr. Ayers revealed for the very first time that he did write - page-for-page - "Dreams From My Father," the best-selling memoir of Barack Obama's life.

Aha! Mr. Ayers, the 1960s radical whose ties to Mr. Obama have been mined for years now, has finally confirmed his intimate knowledge of the president's entire life and affirmed the conspiracy whipping around the blogosphere. Mr. Ayers' ghost-writing was recently reinforced by details in the incredibly authoritative book on the Obamas' marriage by their extremely close BFF, Christopher Andersen.

Then watch as Ms. Leary monitors the aggregation site memeorandum.com, updating her posts with the climb upward - No. 2! Wow! Lots of links! (Right now, it's at No. 1)

But then, uh-oh. Read Jonah Goldberg, no slouch in the conservative world of writers and bloggers, who deflates this amazing airport revelation by unearthing a little post from the National Journal magazine last week: "It sounds like Ayers is jerking some chains."

Goldberg was quoting a National Journal story suggesting Ayers is being sarcastic in his now-multiple claims of authorship of Obama's memoir.

The Thursday morning print version of Phillips' story is less giddy, but still mocked blogger Leary, and againfailed to identify what exactly is "radical" about Bill Ayers.

Maybe William Ayers, the 1960s radical, has decided to have a little fun with all the conspiracies spooling out about him on the Internet.

This week, Anne Leary, a blogger who writes under the moniker BackyardConservative, posted a breathless account of the admission she said she wrested from Mr. Ayers at Reagan National Airport recently, after he had attended an education conference in Arlington, Va.

She said Mr. Ayers revealed for the very first time - to a relative stranger who had stopped him - that he had written ''Dreams From My Father,'' the best-selling memoir of Barack Obama's life.

Ms. Leary's scoop climbed up memeorandum.com, the aggregation site that charts links and buzz on posts and articles, and she updated her own posts as she hit No. 2! Lots of links!

But by the time the news landed at No. 1, part of its popularity rested on the fact that Ms. Leary's reporting was being debunked. Jonah Goldberg, a conservative writer blogging at the National Review Online, pointed to a brief article in the National Journal magazine from last Friday, saying, ''It sounds like Ayers is jerking some chains.''

How was Leary's report "debunked"? Did Ayers not say he was the author, whether he was kidding or not?

Leary herself found Phillips' prose a little "breathless" and misleading and the headline sexist, as she wrote on her blog BackyardConservative:

NY Times writes breathless, deathless prose. The Caucus. Ah yes, I was "stalking" Bill Ayers at Starbucks. Isn't that kind of a sexist remark, Ms. Phillips? An admission "wrested" from Bill Ayers? I expected him to flip me the bird and walk away after I took his picture and asked him what brought him to D.C. Instead he tried to convince me what a sweet guy he was - was he stalking me? And it was only when I said I was from Chicago and a blogger that he made a decision to make his assertions-tongue in cheek or not, I reported what he said -after I called him a liar. You can make of it what you want.