When we last left Team Obama, they were attempting to get the above video banned from TV. (More on that here.) Now they’re attempting to smear NRO journalist Stanley Kurtz for attempting to report the story, thereby bringing maximum attention to it, as Ben Smith of the Politico writes:
Barack Obama’s campaign hasn’t advertised this a great deal this week, but the campaign’s “Action Wire” has been waging large-scale campaigns against critics. That includes tens of thousands of e-mails to television stations running Harold Simmons’ Bill Ayers ad, and to their advertisers — including a list of major automobile and telecommunications companies.
And 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.
Andy McCarthy of NRO describes the results thusly:
The pro-Obama callers on the Milt Rosenberg show are a riot.
In the last few minutes, two called to scald Milt for having Stanley on without having an Obama rep on to give the counterpoint. Milt explains, repeatedly, that he contacted the Obama campaign (he gave the name of the campaign official his producer spoke with) and the campaign — the HQ of which is about a quarter mile from the studio where the show airs — declined to come on. They were offered the opportunity to have someone there with Stanley for the entire two hours, and they said no.
Another pro-Obama woman called and, after accusing Stanley of slander but of course not citing anything he said that was slanderous, stated, “We want it to stop.” Milt asked what she wanted stopped, and she replied, “It’s just not what we believe as Americans.” Milt tried again, asking what she didn’t believe. She responded that it was someone saying bad things about Barack Obama and, again, we just want it to stop.
Earth to Obama supporters: no one is claiming guilt by association — though willful association with an admitted terrorist would be worthy of noting in a presidential candidate. Obama and Bill Ayers had a working relationship. Yet, Obama claimed Ayers was just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” and has otherwise minimized the relationship. Aside from the fact that Obama is not telling the truth, which itself is important, the details of the relationship are important. If the press was doing its job, we’d have those details already. Finally, the media’s job is being done … by Stanley. He should be saluted, not smeared. If the Obama campaign has a substantive response, let’s hear it. If all they can do is smear a good faith critic, they are strictly bush league … and it comes as no surprise that their guy thought Bill Ayers was someone worth cultivating.
We’re still in the early rounds, but this is playing out remarkably like John Kerry and the Swift Vets all over again. As I wrote right around this time four years ago:
Kerry’s massively invented narrative (“swashbuckling Swift Boat lieutenant”–as Steyn describes him–turned brave defender of soldiers’ rights) was built to survive the glancing scrutiny (if you can call it that) of a 1972-era media that consisted of three TV networks with half hour evening news shows, and a few liberal big city newspapers, all of which were staffed with journalists more or less largely sympathetic to Kerry’s leftist anti-American beliefs.
But between the Swift Boat Vets and the Blogosphere, there are far too many people examining Kerry’s story, and his “reporting for duty” edifice has crumbled.
Is that fair? We’ll, we’re deciding if we want the man to have the key to the most powerful arsenal ever assembled. If he can’t survive the scrutiny of the Blogosphere, who James Lileks recently described as an “obsessive sort with lots of time on their hands”, is he someone who should be trusted with this power?
The 1972-style media seems to think so.
And a year later, John O’Neill of the Swift Vets gave an interview in which he said:
TAE: Were you surprised when Senator Kerry focused so much on his Vietnam record at the Democratic Convention in late July? How do you account for this when he clearly knew you were out there?
O’NEILL: I think he thought that he had good control over the mainline media, that they were sympathetic, that they would kill the story. And I think he was very confident that was the case with the New York Times and the three major networks and CNN, and that he could intimidate the portions of the media not already friendly to him. And so he thought the story would never come out. That had been his experience over and over again in Massachusetts.
TAE: Everything changed in early August, after your first ad.
O’NEILL: All of a sudden, Kerry and the media were faced with an ad that was actually showing. There was a time when they controlled the entire world of communications. That day is over.
Change the name from Kerry to Obama and the state from Chicago to Illinois, and O’Neill’s quote is remarkably timely.
Back in 2004, Kerry’s brain trust could at least some ignorance in the difference between old media and new–when RatherGate broke for instance, Mary Mapes of the very Kerry-friendly and very old media CBS later claimed, “Within a few minutes, I was online visiting Web sites I had never heard of before: Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Power Line.”
Four years later, what’s the Obama camp’s excuse? And as John Hinderaker notes:
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?
Revel in the joy and optimism–the hope and change, you might say–that comes from the audacity of litigation.
Update: Don’t miss Mickey Kaus’s thoughts on this story as well.