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McCain Campaign Unveils Ayers-Obama Web Ad

By Michele McNeil — October 09, 2008 2 min read
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Sen. John McCain’s campaign has elevated its attacks against Barack Obama from the campaign trail to an official, one-minute and 40-second Web ad that’s the most detailed yet about the Democrat’s ties to Weather Underground member William Ayers.

What’s next? A paid TV ad on major channels, according to Politico‘s Mike Allen.

The Web ad, posted below, not only attacks Obama for associating with the “domestic terrorist” Ayers, it accuses the two of running a “radical” education foundation that distributed $100 million to “ideological allies” with “no discernable improvement in education.”

Obama and Ayers didn’t run a foundation. They were both involved in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which received money from the Annenberg Foundation, as did sites across the country, for school improvement work in the city.

My colleague, Dakarai I. Aarons, offers one of the most comprehensive looks yet at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in a story debuting today on

Prominent Chicagoans involved with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge say those claiming the project pushed radicalism are wrong.

“I think one thing that’s gotten lost is that this was very much an establishment group,” Adele S. Simmons told Dakarai. Simmons at the time was president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which had pledged $40 million to the Chicago public schools at the same time. “This was very much a group of people in the mainstream leadership in Chicago working together for ed reform.”

While funding did go to groups like the controversial ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the biggest chunk of money went to run-of-the-mill education groups like the Chicago Comer School Network and the Lakeview Education and Arts Partnership.

As for its effectiveness, a 2003 study conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research concluded that the Chicago Annenberg project “did not achieve an overall effect on student outcomes.”

Ken Rolling, who served as the Chicago Annenberg Challenge’s executive director, told Dakarai that the project was about many, many more people than just Obama and Ayers.

“The impression, which is coming from a set of bloggers who want to make a conspiracy theory, is that the Chicago Annenberg Challenge was an Obama-Ayers thing,” he said. “That is so far from the truth, and I think it so insults so many other people in this city who were so deeply engaged in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was owned by 100 people.”

You can read more about the Annenberg Challenge, including letters to and from Ayers, here.

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