Obama campaign turns thuggish (update: podcast available)
The Obama campaign has tonight again demonstrated that it will try to silence voices with which it does not agree. This should chill all Americans, for it offers a preview of the tactics to which a President Obama might harness the power of the federal government. The means chosen include harassment of television stations running the 527 group Ayers ad, a demand for a Justice Department investigation, and just last night, disruption of a radio talk show in Chicago that dared have Dr. Stanley Kurtz of National Review, who has been examining the archives of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, in which Bill Ayers and Barack Obama worked as colleagues.
(Update: a podcast of the complete show is available here. The Los Angeles Times and The Swamp blog of the Chicago Tribune weight in. )
Update: Regarding the Obama campaign's demands for a DoJ investigation of the 527 group ads criticizing his long association with Ayers, John Hinderaker at Powerline asks:
Obama's suggestion that it is illegal for a 501(c)(4) entity to fund issue ads that are negative toward him appears ludicrous. Here's the real question, though: if Obama is elected President, will he appoint an Attorney General who will carry out politically-motivated prosecutions like the one he is now demanding? I suppose we can't know for sure, but why wouldn't he? If he demands criminal prosecution of free speech that opposes his political interests when he's a candidate, why wouldn't he order it as President?
...tonight, the campaign launched a more specific campaign: an effort to disrupt the appearance by a writer for National Review, Stanley Kurtz, on a Chicago radio program. Kurtz has been writing about Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers, and has suggested that papers housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago would reveal new details of that relationship.The campaign e-mailed Chicago supporters who had signed up for the Obama Action Wire with detailed instructions including the station's telephone number and the show's extension, as well as a research file on Kurtz, which seems to prove that he's a conservative, which isn't in dispute. The file cites a couple of his more controversial pieces, notably his much-maligned claim that same-sex unions have undermined marriage in Scandinavia."Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse," says the email, which picks up a form of pressure on the press pioneered by conservative talk radio hosts and activists in the 1990s, and since adopted by Media Matters and other liberal groups.
"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," it continues.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Obama Action Wire <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Aug 27, 2008
Subject: Chicago: CALL TONIGHT to fight the latest smear
In the next few hours, we have a crucial opportunity to fight one of
the most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack.
Tonight, WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a
forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears. He's
currently scheduled to spend a solid two-hour block from 9:00 to 11:00
p.m. pushing lies, distortions, and manipulations about Barack and
University of Illinois professor William Ayers.
Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing
baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of
Call into the "Extension 720" show with Milt Rosenberg at (312) 591-7200
(Show airs from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. tonight)
Then report back on your call at http://my.barackobama.com/WGNstandards
Kurtz has been using his absurd TV appearances in an awkward and
dishonest attempt to play the terrorism card. His current ploy is to
embellish the relationship between Barack and Ayers.
Just last night on Fox News, Kurtz drastically exaggerated Barack's
connection with Ayers by claiming Ayers had recruited Barack to the
board of the Annenberg Challenge. That is completely false and has
been disproved in numerous press accounts.
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.
Kurtz is scheduled to appear from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in the Chicago market.
Calling will only take a minute, and it will make a huge difference if
we nip this smear in the bud. Confront Kurtz tonight before this goes
Please forward this email to everyone you know who can make a call tonight.
Keep fighting the good fight,
Obama Action Wire