Media Drink Obama's 8 Years Old Kool-Aid

Barack Obama's relationship with Weathermen founder William Ayers would reveal a great deal about the candidate's character and values, if establishment journalists chose to tell the tale. 

But rather than investigate and expose the truth, many news organizations are merely parroting the Obama campaign's main talking point, an obvious effort to defuse a political time bomb: the observation that the Democratic presidential nominee was 8 years old when the Weathermen were bombing the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon and killing police officers.

In February, during the Democratic primaries, Obama's relationship with the former terrorist and current radical activist surfaced as a campaign issue.  The Obama campaign responded by minimizing the candidate's relationship with Ayers and subtly twisting the issue.  Obama spokesman Bill Burton said:  “But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.”  This is still the story on the Obama campaign Web site:  “Reality: Obama was eight years old when the Weathermen were active.”

Of course, nobody is trying to connect Obama to the Vietnam-era bombings. The real issue is Obama's values and judgment as an adult.  What will voters think about a presidential candidate who maintained a close working relationship for at least seven years, 1995-2002, with a man who described himself as a “small-c communist” and is still working diligently to radicalize Chicago's schoolchildren? A man who was pictured – in Chicago Magazine in 2001 – treading on an American flag? A man who told the New York Times in 2001 that he regretted that he and his comrades didn't set more bombs?

The ever-evolving Obama campaign stance about the Ayers relationship seems to change every time conservative journalists dredge up new information. Under other circumstances (if the candidate were not the media's darling), the sharks in the establishment newsrooms would smell blood in the water.  Here's the evolution:

Obama's campaign first dismissed Ayers as just a casual acquaintance who lived in Barack's neighborhood.  Then, when it became known that Obama knew Ayers at least as early as 1995, a spokesman suggested Obama didn't realize at the time he was a former terrorist.  Next, as Obama's close work with Ayers disbursing millions of dollars in Annenberg Challenge Grant funds to groups including ACORN was exposed, they said that Obama thought Ayers had been rehabilitated.

The Obama-Ayers relationship ought to be a mother lode for investigative reporters, but the establishment media seem satisfied to dig no deeper than the Obama campaign Web site.  Many news organizations have simply quoted or paraphrased campaign spokesmen, or the candidate himself, mouthing the denial.  A few examples:

    The Washington Post quotes campaign spokesman Bill Burton:  “But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active…”

    The Washington Post “fact-checker” column quotes Obama:  “…40 years ago when I was eight years old…”

    The New York Times quotes Obama: “…40 years ago, when I was eight.”

    A CNN “fact check” quotes Obama: …40 years ago, when I was eight years old…”

    Associated Press reporter Brendan Riley:  “…carried out as Obama has said when he was 8.”

    CBS/AP quotes Obama communications director Robert Gibbs:  “Barack Obama has condemned the attacks that happened when Barack Obama was 8 years old.”

Several reporters have gone even further, repeating the glib line as original reporting:

    TIME magazine: “…in 1969, when Obama was eight years old.”

    New York Daily News:  “…set off bombs when Obama was eight years old…”

    AP's Steven R. Hurst:  “He was eight years old when they occurred.”

    AP's Jim Kuhnhenn:  “Obama was eight years old at the time…”

    AP's Liz Sidoti: “Obama was eight years old when the Weather Underground…”

    AP: “Weather Underground members were blamed for several bombings when Obama was a child.”

    Reuters's Mark Egan: “…when it was involved in a series of bombings in the 1960s, when Obama was eight years old.”

    Reuters's Jason Szep: “the group was involved in bombings in the 1960s, when Obama was 8 years old.”

In February, The Washington Post reported, incorrectly, that “the Obama-Ayers link is a tenuous one.”  Jump to October 3.  The New York Times, in an article headlined “Obama and '60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths,” reported that “Their paths have crossed sporadically” since Obama met Ayers in 1995, and “…the two men do not appear to have been close.”  You'd think nothing had come out in the preceding eight months.

The Buffalo News takes the cake in attempting to downplay Ayers's significance:  “…Weather Underground founder William Ayers, who was a radical when Obama was 8 years old.” 

Was a radical??? 


If the News would bother to visit Professor Ayers's office, they'd find pictures of three radical left icons hanging on the door: Castro's pet mass murderer, Che Guevara; cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal; and Black Muslim supremacist Malcolm X.  At least they would have found them a week ago, when a Chicago Tribune reporter briefly spoke with Ayers.  The politically savvy Ayers might have hidden the evidence by now, just as Obama supporters have scrubbed Web sites to hide Obama's affiliation with the New Party, a collection of Marxists, socialists and radicals who worked in the 1990s, under the auspices of Democratic Socialists of America, to move the Democratic Party to the left.  Obama was a New Party candidate in 1996.

That was when he was 35 years old.

Brian Fitzpatrick is senior editor at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.