Sunday, August 31, 2008

Obama Camp Tries to Stop Interview with Researcher

Obama camp hits station airing critic

Amid attempts to quash 'radical' ad, tries to stop interview with researcher


August 28, 2008



Stanley Kurtz
Amid attempts to stop the broadcast of a TV ad that links Barack Obama to an unrepentant domestic terrorist, the Democratic nominee's campaign organized supporters to confront a Chicago radio station for interviewing a related critic on the air.

Stanley Kurtz, a scholar and National Review contributor who has studied Obama's relationship with former Weather Underground member William Ayers, was a guest for two hours last night on WGN's "Extension 720 with Milt Rosenburg," reported Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times.

WGN said it was flooded prior to the show with calls and e-mails from Obama supporters after the Illinois senator's campaign sent out an e-mail declaring "WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears."

The campaign said Kurtz was scheduled to spend a two-hour block last night "pushing lies, distortions and manipulations about Barack and University of Illinois professor William Ayers."

Ayers helped carry out a series of bomb attacks at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol four decades ago. Since then, he has said he only wished he could have done more.

Obama launched his political career at Ayers' home and worked with him on left-leaning causes, but the senator has downplayed his relationship and insists he doesn't share Ayers' extreme views.

Kurtz, after being blocked initially, obtained records this week from the University of Illinois at Chicago regarding a school reform project co-founded by Ayers and chaired by Obama called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

Reporters now are poring over boxes of documents to study Ayers relationship with Obama.

The Obama campaign's message to supporters said, "It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our public airwaves. At the very least, they should offer sane, honest rebuttal to every one of Kurtz's lies."

But Zack Christenson, executive producer of Rosenburg's show, said the campaign was invited to have a representative on the show to rebut Kurtz, according to the Times' Malcom. Obama's campaign headquarters are just down the street from the WGN studios.

Christenson said the e-mail and phone response from Obama supporters was the biggest ever from a campaign or candidate.

"This is really unprecedented with the show, the way that people are flooding the calls and our e-mail boxes."

See the American Issues Project ad:

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has been warning TV stations and asking the Justice Department to intervene in an attempt to block the airing of an ad linking Obama to Ayers, produced by the nonprofit American Issues Project.

The ad is financed by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth funder Harold Simmons, a Texas billionaire.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor, who called the ads false, despicable and outrageous, said supporters of the Democratic presidential nominee have inundated stations with 93,000 e-mails.

Vietor warned that other stations that follow their lead "should expect a similar response from people who don't want the political discourse cheapened with these false, negative attacks."

Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer wrote to station managers and to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Keeney, calling the ad a "knowing and willful attempt to evade the strictures of federal election law."

American Issues Project counsel Cleta Mitchell responded with the group's own letter to Keeney, asserting the group is not in violation of any law.

Fox News and CNN rejected the ads, but they have run in local markets in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan.


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