Who among us does not embrace NPR? For earnest yet utterly false "objectivity" they have no peer. Their recent "coverage" by David Schaper of the Obama-Ayers relationship is a classic.
On the bare facts they are laudably (OK, plausibly) thorough. All that is missing is any context about the evasions and deceptions put out by the Obama campaign since this issue arose in February. Why the evasions and cover-up? What evasions and cover-up?!?
Watch for the palmed card in this key passage:
Here's how Obama first described the nature of his relationship with Ayers, when asked about it in a Democratic presidential debate against Sen. Hillary Clinton in April: "This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who is a professor of English in Chicago, who I know, and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He is not someone I exchange ideas (with) on a regular basis."
Obama went on to say Ayers "engaged in despicable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old," and to suggest that "that reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense."
How Well Do They Know Each Other?
But Palin suggests Obama is downplaying how well he knows Ayers.
"Barack Obama said Ayers was just someone in the neighborhood. But that's less than truthful. His own top adviser said they were 'certainly friendly.' In fact, Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers' home. And they've worked together on various projects in Chicago," Palin said Sunday.
Did Obama "pal around with," Ayers? And, more importantly, is Ayers still considered a terrorist?
On the first question, there is some evidence to suggest Obama knows Ayers a little better than he acknowledges. They certainly ran in the same liberal Chicago circles in the 1990s and early 2000s. They lived within blocks of each other, and Obama's two daughters now go to the same school Ayers' children attended, though they are now grown.
The Obama campaign says he first met Ayers in 1995, when Obama became chair of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50 million fund that awarded grants to groups trying to implement new programs to improve inner city education in Chicago.
NPR does note Obama's early "guy who lives in my neighborhood" evasion. They then boldly aver that there is "some evidence" (lots, actually) to "suggest" (try "prove") that Obama knows Ayers "a little better" (i.e., a lot better) than he admitted.
Next NPR provides an explanation from the campaign that dates the relationship to the inception of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in 1995.
So what is missing? The reader is given no hint that the explanations from the Obama campaign have been changing and evolving since February. Briefly:
February - their kids went to the same school (Axelrod to Ben Smith, Politico)
April - some guy in the neighborhood (Obama, debate).
April Fact Check - recycles news reports but does not volunteer the Chicago Annenberg Challenge connectioon.
May - They met at a political meet-and-greet in 1995 (campaign aides to NY Times).
And these are the people whose current story we are meant to uncritically accept. Had the NPR troubled to mention the previously shifting sands people might have been more inclined to take the current story with a grain of salt. But in NPR world there is only the faintest, faintest whiff of cover-up.
Let me toss out a couple of reasons for skepticism of the current Obama explanation. First, there was a push in Chicago for school reform in 1988, which Obama mentions working on before he left for Harvard ("Dreams From My Father", p. 289). Obama's Developing Communities Project ended up in the ABCs Coalition coordinated by Bill Ayers. Why didn't they meet then?
Secondly, how in the world did Obama, with no background in education, become tapped as the chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge without being OK'ed by Bill Ayers, a leader of the Challenge effort who had spent a year bringing the project together? The current Obama story defies common sense.
In my view there are two stories here. One is the ongoing Obama cover-up; normally the press pokes at cover-ups because they figure (often correctly) that the candidate is concealing something worth concealing. What might that be here? I don't know, but I do smile at the many, many people (including those in the press) who believe that even though they do not know the extent of the Obama-Ayers relationship they know it is not relevant. Judgment first, evidence later - is that reality-based?
Secondly, it seems to me that since Obama is covering something up he has become indebted to people (such as Bill Ayers) who are abetting that cover-up. What favors are acruing here, and how deeply does the Chicago machine have their hooks into Obama? I don't think we will find out by ignoring this.
But ignore it our watchdogs in the media will! At least until they figure out Joe the Plumber's tax situation, if not the tax challenge faced by Obama's treasurer. Then it will be back to Alaska; I heard Sarah Palin scribbled in a library book when she was in second grade - that's destruction of government property, is it not?