Federal

Slow-Building Controversy

October 10, 2008 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Commentators on the political right have fueled much of the controversy over connections between Sen. Barack Obama and 1960s-radical-turned-education professor William C. Ayers. Key moments as the story gained attention this year include:

• Feb. 2, 2008: The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, makes the Ayers-Obama connection in a column by Peter Hitchens, kicking off interest among bloggers on both sides of the Atlantic.

• Feb. 15: Bloomberg News reports that Sen. Obama and Mr. Ayers served together on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, a philanthropy.

• April 15: At a time when the connection had become a topic on conservative radio and TV talk shows, two hosts—Sean Hannity, on his national radio show, and Steve Malzberg, on his New York radio show—raise its profile even further. In separate interviews, they suggest to George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he ask a question about Mr. Ayers at the next night’s Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia.

• April 16: In a debate between Sen. Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Stephanopoulos asks Sen. Obama about Mr. Ayers. The Illinois senator says he is a “guy who lives in my neighborhood” and not someone “who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.” Sen. Clinton says this will be “an issue that people will be asking about.”

• April 17: Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley issues a press statement calling Mr. Ayers a “valued member of the Chicago community.”

• April 20: On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, says the Obama-Ayers association is “open to question” and calls Mr. Ayers a “friend” of Sen. Obama’s who helped “kick off” the Democrat’s state Senate campaign.

• April 22: University of Santa Clara law professor Stephen F. Diamond, who will become a prolific blogger on the subject, makes his first blog post about it, saying the real issue is whether Sen. Obama follows the education reform ideas of Mr. Ayers.

• April 23: Sol Stern, of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, writes that Sen. Obama’s real problem is that Mr. Ayers is a “radical educator with influence.”

• Aug. 1: Jerome R. Corsi’s book The Obama Nation, which includes a chapter on Mr. Ayers and Sen. Obama, debuts and will end up on The New York Times bestseller list.

• Aug. 21: The American Issues Project, a conservative political action group, starts airing a television ad in parts of battleground states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania that asks: “Why would Barack Obama be friends with somebody who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it?”

• Aug. 26: The University of Illinois at Chicago sparks news stories with its release of documents from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school improvement project in which Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were involved.

• Sept. 16: A “Support Bill Ayers” Web site is launched, with signatories including New York University’s Deborah Meier, a prominent school reformer who also co-writes a blog hosted by edweek.org.

• Sept. 23: Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writes an The Wall Street Journal commentary-page article headlined: “Obama and Ayers pushed radicalism on schools.”

• Oct. 1: The Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative group, launches a television ad in some markets linking Sen. Obama to an unnamed associate who “helped bomb the Pentagon and said he ‘didn’t do enough.’ ”

• Oct. 4: The New York Times publishes a front-page article about the “crossed paths” between Sen. Obama and Mr. Ayers and says the two “do not appear to have been close.”

• Oct. 4: GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin uses the Times article in a campaign appearance to accuse Sen. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” The Obama campaign responds that Gov. Palin’s attacks are “desperate,” “offensive.”

• Oct 8: In an interview with ABC News’ Charlie Gibson, Sen. Obama says of Mr. Ayers: “This is a guy who engaged in some despicable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old. ... All these statements are made simply to try to score cheap political points.”

• Oct 9: Sen. McCain cites the Ayers-Obama link in an ABC interview with Mr. Gibson, and in a campaign speech in which he refers to Mr. Ayers as “an old washed-up terrorist.”

• Oct 10: The McCain-Palin campaign launches a television ad saying Sen. Obama worked with a “terrorist” and then “lied” about it.

SOURCE: Education Week

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 15, 2008 edition of Education Week as Slow-Building Controversy

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Pave the Path to Excellence in Math
Empower your students' math journey with Sue O'Connell, author of “Math in Practice” and “Navigating Numeracy.”
Content provided by hand2mind
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Combatting Teacher Shortages: Strategies for Classroom Balance and Learning Success
Learn from leaders in education as they share insights and strategies to support teachers and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Reading Instruction and AI: New Strategies for the Big Education Challenges of Our Time
Join the conversation as experts in the field explore these instructional pain points and offer game-changing guidance for K-12 leaders and educators.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal A Flood of Public Feedback Has Delayed a Title IX Change Covering Trans Athletes—Again
The Biden administration has not taken the final step to adopt long-awaited Title IX changes that would explicitly protect LGBTQ+ students.
5 min read
Isaya S. waves out the window of a Seattle Public Schools bus while participating in the annual Seattle Pride Parade on June 25, 2023, in Seattle.
Isaya S. waves out the window of a Seattle Public Schools bus while participating in the annual Seattle Pride Parade on June 25, 2023, in Seattle.
Lindsey Wasson/AP
Federal Is Funding for School Archery and Hunting Programs Really at Risk?
A U.S. Department of Education document led to confusion among school administrators about funding for archery and hunting programs.
4 min read
Students participate in a school archery program. A group of congressional lawmakers are working to amend federal law to ensure schools can purchase bow and arrows and other supplies for archery, sharp shooting, and hunting programs in schools.
Students participate in a school archery program. A group of congressional lawmakers are working to amend federal law to ensure schools can purchase bow and arrows and other supplies for school archery, sharp shooting, and hunting programs with federal education funds.
Courtesy of the National Archery in the Schools Program
Federal A Senate Committee Takes Up School Book Wars, Complete With Sharp Partisan Divisions
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "book bans" included one Republican senator reading sexually explicit passages.
4 min read
Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois secretary of state, talks with Chairman Richard Durbin, D-Ill., right, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Book Bans: Examining How Censorship Limits Liberty and Literature," in Hart Building on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.
Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois secretary of state, talks with Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., right, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Book Bans: Examining How Censorship Limits Liberty and Literature," on Sept. 12, 2023.
Tom Williams/AP
Federal WATCH: 5 Key Takeaways on Education From the 1st GOP Presidential Debate
Among the highlights: take on the teachers' unions, scrap the Education Department, and boost reading.
8 min read
Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum stand on stage before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by FOX News Channel on Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee.
Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum stand on stage before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by FOX News Channel on Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee.
Morry Gash/AP