Barack Obama and unrepentant Weatherman Bill Ayers worked together on public school reform in Chicago for several years through the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, co-founded by Bill Ayers and originally chaired by Barack Obama. This aspect of the Ayers/Obama relationship got surprisingly short shrift when Obama was asked about Ayers at the Philadelphia debate and has also been concealed by the Obama website's "Fact Check" and in their recent denunciation of Jerome Corsi's book.
And now the whiff of cover-up grows stronger. Stanley Kurtz, writing at NRO, details his attempt to gain access to hundreds of Chicago Annenberg Challenge records housed at the Richard J. Daley Library of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Although initially assured that the documents were available to the public, Mr. Kurtz has since been given shifting stories the gist of which seems to be that the documents are off limits. And who is making this determination? The library won't say, although it is entirely possible that Bill Ayers is the guiding force behind this delay.
So let's see - Obama has been misrepresenting his relationship with Ayers to the press (this misdirection of Ben Smith of The Politico from last February is a comedy classic) and now someone is blocking access to the records detailing the workings of the group founded by Ayers and chaired by Obama. In another world the press would smell a cover-up. In this one? My guess has been that the mainstream press will remain in the tank for Obama rather than risk annoying their remaining readers by appearing to be pawns of the right-wing attack machine.
Mr. Obama also fit in at Hyde Park’s fringes, among university faculty members like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, unrepentant members of the radical Weather Underground that bombed the United States Capitol and the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. Mr. Obama was introduced to the couple in 1995 at a meet-and-greet they held for him at their home, aides said.
Now, along with Mr. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Mr. Ayers has become a prime exhibit in the effort by Mr. Obama’s presidential rivals to highlight what could be politically radioactive associations. In 2001, Mr. Ayers said he did not regret the Weatherman bombings. Even so, in Hyde Park, he and his wife were viewed favorably for their work in addressing city problems. Mr. Ayers was just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” Mr. Obama said recently.
The two men were involved in efforts to reform the city’s education system. They appeared together on academic panels, including one organized by Michelle Obama to discuss the juvenile justice system, an area of mutual concern. Mr. Ayers’s book on the subject won a rave review in The Chicago Tribune by Mr. Obama, who called it “a searing and timely account.”
Now what basis could the Times have for noting that "The two men were involved in efforts to reform the city’s education system"? It can't be the meet-and-greet fundraiser where they were "introduced" (As if - per The Politico, the fundraiser was in the second half of 1995; Obama was already chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which was kicked off in January 1995). It can't be a panel on the juvenile justice system. It wouldn't be their overlap on the Woods Fund of Chicago, a general charity.
I think the Times knows more than they are comfortable telling. As to the nature of their discomfort, well, as noted I think they want to leave their readers in a comfort zone.
WILL THE POLITICO TAKE THIS UP? From The Politico last April:
Information about the pair's connection has been dribbling out over the past few months. Obama first met Ayers in 1995, during Obama's first state Senate campaign, and the two met with a small group of local liberal activists at Ayers' house. Exact details of the meeting are unkown because Obama and Ayers have declined to discuss it.
Clearly false. So what are they going to do about it?
LET THE RECORD NOTE: There was a push for public school reform in Chicago in 1987, before Obama went off to Harvard in the fall of 1988. The group led by Obama, Developing Communities Project, was part of the ABCs Coalition led by Thomas Ayers (Bill's dad) and coordinated by Bill Ayers himself. The odds are pretty good that this is when Bill Ayers and Barack Obama first met. I wonder whether the Times knew that, too.
THE FOG AT FOX: Obama was asked about Bill Ayers a few days after the Philadelphia debate in an interview on Fox. He sorta kinda told something like the truth while continuing the cover-up:
Now, Mr. Ayres [Ayers] is a 60 plus year old individual who lives in my neighborhood, who did something that I deplore 40 years ago when I was six or seven years old. By the time I met him, he was a professor of education at the University of Illinois.
We served on a board together that had Republicans, bankers, lawyers, focused on education, who worked for Mayor Daley. Mayor Daley, the same Mayor Daley probably who when he was a state attorney prosecuted Mr. Ayres’s wife for those activities, I (INAUDIBLE) the point is that to somehow suggest that in any way I endorse his deplorable acts 40 years ago, because I serve on a board with him.
As I noted at the time, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge was a private entity which could not reasonably be construed as working for Mayor Daley (lots of detail in Part D of this Diamond post). The successor group did advise Daley, but Bill Ayers was not on that board (his father and brother were.) So this presentation sugarcoats the reality, which is that Ayers co-founded a private charitable group ands (very probably) tapped Obama to run it. More covering up for the press to ignore.
TAX RETURNS: Courtesy of Appalled we have tax returns for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge for 1998 (link) and 1999 (link). The real gold would be in finding a controversial disbursement (Maoists For Genocide, anyone?) but nothing leapt off the page at me. However, Steve Diamond noted a grant to former Weatherman Michael Klonsky.