The Barack Obama campaign has called on supporters to confront powerful radio station WGN-AM in Chicago for giving air time to an Obama critic.
"WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears," Obama's campaign wrote in an e-mail to supporters, saying Kurtz is “pushing lies, distortions, and manipulations about Barack and University of Illinois professor William Ayers."
Kurtz, a conservative writer, recently penned an article for the National Review that examined Obama's ties to Ayers, a former 1960s radical and terrorist bomber who later emerged as a school reform advocate in Chicago.
The magazine had been blocked in its attempts to obtain University of Illinois at Chicago records regarding a school reform initiative called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which Obama chaired and Ayers co-founded, the Chicago Tribune reported. The school reversed its position and made the records available on Tuesday.
On Wednesday evening, Obama's campaign urged supporters to call the radio station to voice their protests.
"Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse," the e-mail stated.
"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."
Zack Christenson, executive producer of "Extension 720 with Milt Rosenburg" — the show that invited Kurtz on the air — said the response was strong.
"I would say this is the biggest response we've ever got from a campaign or a candidate," he told the Tribune, which owns WGN. "This is really unprecedented with the show, the way that people are flooding the calls and our e-mail boxes."
Christenson asserted that the Obama campaign was asked to have someone appear on the show and declined the request.
The National Review responded in an editorial: “Obama supporters risibly complain that shining a light on the Obama/Ayers relationship is a ‘smear’ and smacks of ‘guilt by association.’ A presidential candidate’s choice to associate himself with an unrepentant terrorist would be highly relevant in any event — does anyone think the Obamedia would keep mum if John McCain had a long-standing relationship with David Duke or an abortion-clinic bomber?”
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