Infuriated over the appearance of the author of a National Review story linking Barack Obama to terrorist bomber William Ayers, Obama's campaign demanded that its supporters confront the Chicago Tribune's station WGN-AM in Chicago for hosting an Obama critic.
"WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears," The Tribune reported that Obama's campaign wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "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."
According to The Tribune, Kurtz had written an article for The National Review that probed Obama's ties to Ayers, a former 1970 radical from the Weather Underground Organization that claimed responsibility for a dozen bombings between 1970 and 1974. The former Weatherman now holds the position of distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago and has been associated with Obama in the past. Although never convicted of any crime, he told The New York Times in September 2001, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough."
"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 Obama campaign email read.
"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."
WGN-AM invited the Obama campaign to appear with Kurtz on the show, "Extension 720 with Milt Rosenburg,” for the full two hours, but the Obama people reportedly spurned the offer.
Kurtz, who writes for the National Review and the Weekly Standard, has a PhD in anthropology from Harvard University. He has been conducting an in-depth investigation of the ties between Obama and Ayers which he has found to be stronger than Obama will admit.
Zack Christenson, executive producer of "Extension 720," told The Tribune the response to the program was strong.
"I would say this is the biggest response we've ever got from a campaign or a candidate," he said. "This is really unprecedented with the show, the way that people are flooding the calls and our email boxes."
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