Bill Ayers, the Marxist revolutionary, unrepentant domestic terrorist, and early political mentor to Barack Obama, gets the serious author treatment on BookTV a.k.a. C-SPAN II on Sunday June 7, 2009. For three hours, starting at 12 noon EDT, to be repeated at midnight Eastern. Ayers will appear live as the subject of the cable network's monthly "In Depth" series. The broadcast will originate from the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest. Viewer calls, and e-mail questions, for the guest are a usual feature of the program.
Ayers, a "Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago," was a founder in the late1960s of the domestic terrorist group, the Weather Underground (WU). The WU pulled off a series of bombings of government buildings and other "actions" in the 1970s. For most of that decade, Ayers, true to the group's name, was underground and a fugitive from justice, along with fellow WU founder and bomber Bernardine Dohrn. According to C-SPAN, Dohrn will appear with Ayers during the third hour of the June 7 program.
In recent decades, Ayers and Dohrn have established themselves as professionals in their native Chicago, and are highly regarded in left wing and government circles. Ayers has also become a prolific author. (Ayers dedicated one of his first books, in 1974, to Robert F. Kennedy's assassin Sirhan Sirhan.) In 2008, their association with Barack Obama at the start of his political career in the mid-1990s became a controversial issue in the Presidential campaign. Ayers and Dohrn are unrepentant about their past activities. For example, in a horrendous irony, the New York Times on September 11, 2001 - an edition that appeared a few hours before the terrorist attacks - published a fawning article on Ayers, "No Regret for Love of Explosives," in which he said "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."
Ayers rarely gives television interviews and almost never live ones. An exception was one taped and broadcast on April 30, 2009 with host Emily Rooney on her show Greater Boston on PBS's flagship station, WGBH. Faced with Rooney's softball questions, Ayers was predictably insistent that his violent past was justified and dedicated to ending the Vietnam War and oppression. He repeatedly used the word "nonsense" to dismiss any and all criticisms of him that Rooney gently mentioned. No remnant of, or reference to, the broadcast remains at WGBH's Web site.