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In the Tank Twofer: NYT and AP

Over the weekend, two more news organizations earned spots In the Tank. On Saturday, our own Stanley Kurtz dissected a New York Times story about Barack Obama’s relationship with former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers. Kurtz wrote that “The piece serves as a platform for the Obama campaign and Obama’s friends and allies.” He pointed out that the Times reporter, Scott Shane, “makes no serious attempt to present the views of Obama critics who have worked to uncover the true nature of the relationship.”

Shane reported that since Obama and Ayers first met in 1995, “their paths have crossed sporadically…at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama’s first run for office, on the schools project (i.e. the Chicago Annenberg Challenge) and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors.”

Kurtz responded:

There is nothing “sporadic” about Barack Obama delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars over a period of many years to fund Bill Ayers’ radical education projects, not to mention many millions more to benefit Ayers’ radical education allies. We are talking about a substantial and lengthy working relationship here, one that does not depend on the quality of personal friendship or number of hours spent in the same room together (although the article greatly underestimates that as well).

Shane’s article buys the spin on Ayers’ supposed rehabilitation offered by the Obama campaign and Ayers’ supporters in Chicago. In this view, whatever Ayers did in the 1960’s has somehow been redeemed by Ayers’ later turn to education work. As the Times quotes Mayor Daley saying, “People make mistakes. You judge a person by his whole life.” The trouble with this is that Ayers doesn’t view his terrorism as a mistake. How can he be forgiven when he’s not repentant? Nor does Ayers see his education work as a repudiation of his early radicalism. On the contrary, Ayers sees his education work as carrying on his radicalism in a new guise. The point of Ayers’ education theory is that the United States is a fundamentally racist and oppressive nation. Students, Ayers believes, ought to be encouraged to resist this oppression. Obama was funding Ayers’ “small schools” project, built around this philosophy. Ayers’ radicalism isn’t something in the past. It’s something to which Obama gave moral and financial support as an adult. So when Shane says that Obama has never expressed sympathy for Ayers’ radicalism, he’s flat wrong. Obama’s funded it.

Kurtz concluded: “The New York Times in the tank for Obama? You bet. And sinking deeper every day.”

Associated Press writer and editor Douglass K. Daniel is our second In the Tank inductee for a piece he wrote titled, “Palin’s Words Carry Racial Tinge.” Douglass wrote:

By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and doesn’t see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.

And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret. 

How is it racist to draw attention to Obama’s relationship with urepentant bomber Bill Ayers? Douglass explained:

Palin’s words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee “palling around” with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn’t see their America?

It’s all about subtext, you see. Obama supporters love to play this game, because accusations involving racist subtexts can never be disproven. But if you wanted to, one way to think about it would be to ask yourself how the situation would be different if Obama were white. If a white Democrat running for president had maintained a close working relationship with someone like Bill Ayers, the Republicans would be following the same strategy. That’s not even debatable.

So congrats, AP. For being the latest news organization to play the “racist subtext” game on Obama’s behalf, you’ve secured yourself a place In the Tank.


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