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ABC: McCain 'Nasty & Bitter'; CBS: He's Trying to Depress Turnout --10/7/2008


1. ABC: McCain 'Nasty & Bitter'; CBS: He's Trying to Depress Turnout
ABC on Monday night focused its ire at John McCain, for making the campaign "increasingly nasty and bitter" by unleashing a "blistering barrage on Obama," while CBS's Jeff Greenfield suggested McCain "may" have decided to "campaign ugly" because "negative campaigns tend to depress turnout" and thus hurt Barack Obama since he's attracting the new voters. Gibson's loaded set-up: "We turn to presidential politics and what is becoming an increasingly nasty and bitter contest. On the eve of the second presidential debate, the McCain campaign has unleashed a blistering barrage on Obama, attacking him not only for what he says, but for who he is and who he knows." Reporter Ron Claiborne proceeded to describe a McCain speech as "by far McCain's fiercest, most sustained, harshest attack on Barack Obama of the entire campaign" which included "even questioning Obama's honesty." After noting the "new offensive includes running mate Sarah Palin accusing Obama of associating with Bill Ayers," Claiborne was less condemnatory of Obama, describing "a slick 13-minute Web video about the Keating Five banking scandal."

2. MSNBC's Hardball Dismisses Ayers as 'Politics of Distraction'
In a segment headlined "The Politics of Distraction," Chris Matthews, on Monday night's Hardball, dismissed the McCain/Palin campaign's linking of Bill Ayers to Barack Obama. Matthews conjured a scenario where the GOP was trying to use Obama's tie to Ayers, his middle name of "Hussein," and his donor list to turn Obama into "a man of dangerous mystery." In the first segment of the show, Matthews invited on the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan and the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson to discuss the McCain campaign allegedly distracting voters with Ayers, and for his part, Robinson issued this rallying cry to his colleagues in the press: "We shouldn't, we shouldn't let them do that, though. We in the media shouldn't let them do that."

3. CBS's Early Show: McCain-Palin Making Campaign 'Ugly'
At the top of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith described how the McCain campaign was criticizing Barack Obama for his connection to domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, but avoided any such label: "...dredging up of a character that Barack Obama knows from Chicago named Bill Ayers, who was one of the founders of the Weather Underground. So it's really getting crazy..." Smith offered no explanation of the terrorist activity launched by Weather Underground. Chip Reid also avoided the terrorist label, but did describe the activity of the organization: "William Ayers, a former radical who participated in a domestic bombing campaign during the Vietnam War." Smith and Reid also bashed the McCain campaign for daring to even mention such a connection. Smith began the show by declaring: "It's getting ugly. Less than a month to go and the campaigns are turning negative in the race for the White House...Desperate measures or smart strategy?...And the campaign is getting nasty to say the least." In his report, Reid blamed the ugliness and nastiness on the McCain campaign: "But with a flurry of new negative ads and attacks, it's clear the gloves are now completely off. John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is leading the charge...With the campaign's new bare knuckle strategy, attacking Barack Obama's character..."

4. GMA Deplores Palin's 'Guilt by Association' Attack on Obama
ABC reporter David Wright continued his sympathetic spinning for Senator Barack Obama on Monday's Good Morning America and assailed Governor Sarah Palin: "Last night in Omaha, Sarah Palin not only questioned Obama's patriotism...she accused him of consorting with terrorists." And while Wright explained briefly Palin's observation that Obama has been associated with William Ayers, a former member of the violent Weather Underground, he downplayed the connection. After describing Palin's comment as accusing Obama of "consorting with terrorists," Wright later described the remarks as "guilt by association." The journalist then quoted a McCain representative, "...They say, Barack Obama has been fundamentally dishonest about his work with an unrepentant terrorist. That's the quote from the McCain campaign." However, it's Wright who was being misleading in treating the McCain/Palin statements as an accusation. He closed the first piece by solemnly intoning: "The mud is really starting to fly here and whoever can make the mud stick, well, that person may be the winner a month from now."

5. CNN's 'Truth Squad' Obfuscates Obama Link to Terrorist Ayers
CNN's so-called Truth Squad, in two reports on Sunday and Monday by two different correspondents, labeled Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "false" for stating that Barack Obama "sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country." The Squad, in their "fact-checking" of the Alaska Governor, who was making a reference to left-wing terrorist William Ayers, obfuscated Obama's past connections to the former leader of the Weather Underground. The Squad's reports, which aired on CNN's Sunday Morning program and on Monday's American Morning, also left out key details about the Democratic presidential candidate's past with Ayers.

6. Whoopi Goldberg on The View: McCain 'Pulling Out Garbage'
With the McCain campaign's new offensive on Barack Obama and his ties with William Ayers, View co-host Whoopi Goldberg on Monday suggested McCain is playing this card out of desperation and using the same failed tactics of Hillary Clinton: "The man is losing. The man is losing and he's pulling out garbage that didn't work for Clinton. It's not going to work for him." Discussing Ayers, Goldberg "assume[d] that he rehabilitated himself." When Elisabeth Hasselbeck, outnumbered three to one, reminded the panel that Ayers expressed regret in 2001 that he had not done more, Sherri Shepherd wagged her finger in Elisabeth's face, lecturing: "No you don't Elisabeth." Shepherd retorted that Ayers' remarks were not about September 11, something already known. Barbara Walters called such campaign tactics "smears" even as Elisabeth asserted that they are not smears, but true.


ABC: McCain 'Nasty & Bitter'; CBS: He's
Trying to Depress Turnout

ABC on Monday night focused its ire at John McCain, for making the campaign "increasingly nasty and bitter" by unleashing a "blistering barrage on Obama," while CBS's Jeff Greenfield suggested McCain "may" have decided to "campaign ugly" because "negative campaigns tend to depress turnout" and thus hurt Barack Obama since he's attracting the new voters. Gibson's loaded set-up: "We turn to presidential politics and what is becoming an increasingly nasty and bitter contest. On the eve of the second presidential debate, the McCain campaign has unleashed a blistering barrage on Obama, attacking him not only for what he says, but for who he is and who he knows."

Reporter Ron Claiborne proceeded to describe a McCain speech as "by far McCain's fiercest, most sustained, harshest attack on Barack Obama of the entire campaign" which included "even questioning Obama's honesty." After noting the "new offensive includes running mate Sarah Palin accusing Obama of associating with Bill Ayers," Claiborne was less condemnatory of Obama, describing "a slick 13-minute Web video about the Keating Five banking scandal."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric asked: "So, do you think it's going to turn a lot of voters from both camps off and they're not going to show up on election day?" Greenfield allowed:

"That may, and I say may, be part of the strategy, that negative campaigns tend to depress turnout. And when you look at who the new voters are, overwhelmingly Obama, I think the McCain campaign would be perfectly happy to see turnout lower than it would otherwise be and this may be one way to do it."

When Couric wondered "might this motivate voters?", Greenfield reiterated his original theory: "I just know there's a theory that says 'make the campaign ugly and people won't turn out to vote.'"

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Monday, October 6 World News on ABC anchored from Dayton, Ohio:

CHARLES GIBSON: Next we turn to presidential politics and what is becoming an increasingly nasty and bitter contest. On the eve of the second presidential debate, the McCain campaign has unleashed a blistering barrage on Obama, attacking him not only for what he says, but for who he is and who he knows. Ron Claiborne is with McCain in Albuquerque.

RON CLAIBORNE: It was by far McCain's fiercest, most sustained, harshest attack on Barack Obama of the entire campaign.
JOHN MCCAIN CLIP #1: You need to know who you're putting in the White House and where the candidate came from and what he or she believes.
MCCAIN CLIP #2: Why has Senator Obama refused to disclose the people who are funding his campaign.
CLAIBORNE: On the financial meltdown:
MCCAIN: To hear him talk now, you'd think he'd always opposed the dangerous practices of these institutions, but there is absolutely nothing in his record to suggest he did. Nothing, zero, zippo, nada.
CLAIBORNE: The McCain campaign is pounding Obama on everything from the economy and taxes to even questioning Obama's honesty.
MCCAIN CLIP #1: For a guy who's already authored two memoirs, he's not exactly an open book.
MCCAIN CLIP #2: Who is the real Barack Obama?
CLAIBORNE: The new offensive includes running mate Sarah Palin accusing Obama of associating with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground who bombed government buildings in the 1960s.
SARAH PALIN: This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist.
CLAIBORNE: And in a new TV ad, Obama is branded as dangerous, dishonorable, and risky.
CLIP OF AD: Obama and congressional liberals: too risky for America.
CLAIBORNE: But Barack Obama, in North Carolina preparing for tomorrow's debate, was having none of it.
BARACK OBAMA: I've got news for the McCain campaign. The American people are losing right now. They're losing their jobs. They're losing their health care. They're losing their homes. They're losing their savings.
CLAIBORNE: And Obama's campaign released a slick 13-minute Web video about the Keating Five banking scandal in the 1980s. The Senate Ethics Committee ruled that McCain had used poor judgment on behalf of Charles Keating, the head of a savings and loan bank that ultimately failed. But the committee concluded that McCain had done nothing improper. The McCain campaign sees this new line of attack and tomorrow night's debate in a McCain-friendly town hall format with which he is experienced and comfortable as perhaps his best bet to turn around his recent slide in the polls. Ron Claiborne, ABC News, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Couric-Greenfield discussion following a story on how the campaign is growing "nastier," with McCain and Plain attacking and now a retort from Obama:

COURIC: Jeff, very simply, why are they doing this?
GREENFIELD: The McCain campaign has been remarkably candid in saying flatly, even on the record, "we have got to change the topic the economy to raise doubts about Obama or we lose."
COURIC: But why?
GREENFIELD: Because they believe, apparently, that if the economy is the central issue, where the polls have been going, ours is one of the smaller leads for Obama, Obama will win. And the state polls are worse. They are saying -- Karl Rove, who' is not part of the Obama campaign but kind of a godfather, said quote: "They have to deepen doubts about Obama by pounding away about character, judgment, and values." It's their strategy.
COURIC: Will it work?
GREENFIELD: In the past it has worked to push -- Democrats mostly -- out of the mainstream. They've been very effective. They did it with Gore, they did it with Kerry, they did it with Dukakis. In this climate, the news everybody else and we are reporting, it's a question to see whether the voters say "I don't care much about the prospect of a great depression coming, I think I'll focus more on this issue." But I think it's the only card they've got.
COURIC: So, do you think it's going to turn a lot of voters from both camps off and they're not going to show up on election day?
GREENFIELD: That may, and I say may, be part of the strategy, that negative campaigns tend to depress turnout. And when you look at who the new voters are, overwhelmingly Obama, I think the McCain campaign would be perfectly happy to see turnout lower than it would otherwise be and this may be one way to do it.
COURIC: But might this motivate voters?
GREENFIELD: It might. You know, this is why my crystal ball is cracked. I just know there's a theory that says "make the campaign ugly and people won't turn out to vote."

MSNBC's Hardball Dismisses Ayers as 'Politics
of Distraction'

In a segment headlined "The Politics of Distraction," Chris Matthews, on Monday night's Hardball, dismissed the McCain/Palin campaign's linking of Bill Ayers to Barack Obama. Matthews conjured a scenario where the GOP was trying to use Obama's tie to Ayers, his middle name of "Hussein," and his donor list to turn Obama into "a man of dangerous mystery."

Matthews: "I see an attempt, over the last seven days, to tie three points together in the thinking of older voters, especially, so that they can have a mystery about Barack Obama they hadn't had last week. One, this question of Bill Ayers, the Weathermen, back 10 years or so in Chicago politics or Chicago organizing politics. Two, his middle name Hussein. And three, the question of who his donor list includes? I think they're putting this together by demanding that donor list. They're trying to build the case that he's a man of mystery. That, not that he's a street corner guy from the ghetto but that he's somehow maybe connected to terrorism because of this past association with a terrorist. With his middle name being Hussein, which I predicted last week, everybody it's, everybody I talked to, it was coming out. And third this donor list game. They are trying to make him a man of dangerous mystery because they can't beat him on the standard issues of this election."

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In the first segment of the show, Matthews invited on the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan and the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson to discuss the McCain campaign allegedly distracting voters with Ayers, and for his part, Robinson issued this rallying cry to his colleagues in the press: "We shouldn't, we shouldn't let them do that, though. We in the media shouldn't let them do that."

The following conversations occurred on the October 6 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: One thing I noticed about Obama and it sometimes drive me crazy, Peggy [Noonan], is that he seems very calm. And I keep wanting, wanting him to be more like me or more like [Jim] Cramer, which is, we're very much alike. And yet that almost Zen calmness of him, in our era, Perry Como calmness of his seems to be helping him, compared to the erratic seeming McCain. Is that tenor important? Or is it, at some point do you have to show some passion?

...

MATTHEWS: Okay I am a student of politics, since I was 13-years-old and I see a pattern, alright? This has nothing to do with my views about these candidates. I see an attempt, over the last seven days, to tie three points together in the thinking of older voters, especially, so that they can have a mystery about Barack Obama they hadn't had last week. One, this question of Bill Ayers, the Weathermen, back 10 years or so in Chicago politics or Chicago organizing politics. Two, his middle name Hussein. And three, the question of who his donor list includes? I think they're putting this together by demanding that donor list. They're trying to build the case that he's a man of mystery. That, not that he's a street corner guy from the ghetto but that he's somehow maybe connected to terrorism because of this past association with a terrorist. With his middle name being Hussein, which I predicted last week, everybody it's, everybody I talked to, it was coming out. And third this donor list game. They are trying to make him a man of dangerous mystery because they can't beat him on the standard issues of this election. Is that what they're doing?
EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. I mean it's, it's and they don't have to connect the dot-
MATTHEWS: Connect the dots!
ROBINSON: But they're not connecting the dots.
MATTHEWS: Well you're watching it.
ROBINSON: They just, they just, they just, they just pop a dot up here and another dot out there and they, and they let people draw whatever-
MATTHEWS: Use their imaginations.
ROBINSON: They'll never say-
MATTHEWS: They want us to do the dirty work for them.
ROBINSON: They'll never, exactly. And, and-
MATTHEWS: That's what's so brilliant! They want the voter.
ROBINSON: And so are we gonna do it? Are we gonna do it?
MATTHEWS: They want the voter to do it! I'll tell ya John McCain tomorrow night with Tom Brokaw will not attack him for his association. He will talk about him. He will say, "Can he take a hit? Can he take questioning?" Very smart. At the same time Governor Palin is out there hitting him, hitting him in the, in the guts.
PEGGY NOONAN: Yeah that is-
MATTHEWS: And at the same time they got this, this sheriff out there, in a sheriff's uniform, talking about "Hussein," and meanwhile the DNC is being, they're going after their, their donor list trying to find an Arab name on one of the checks. That's what, it's all over the papers today. This is what they're after.

...

MATTHEWS: Imagine writing a history book, the election turned on who the guy hung around with, 20 some years ago. I tell ya, I always try to look forward, then look backwards. What were the causes of the war? What turned the election? What were the big issues that turned the election, and then look back and say, that's a basis for judging. A big historic reason. You only get one vote.
NOONAN: But with only 30 days out what does it say that this is the topic? It says something weird.
MATTHEWS: Well it ain't big but it's a great book. Peggy-
NOONAN: It says that they're avoiding.
ROBINSON: Yeah.
MATTHEWS: We're losing that commentary.
NOONAN: It's almost as if history will look back and say look at the point we were at and this is what they were talking about?
ROBINSON: We shouldn't, we shouldn't let them do that, though. We in the media shouldn't let them do that. We should make them talk about talk about...

...

MATTHEWS: I've been watching and studying politics, I said, for a long time. What we're seeing here is a campaign that knows it's on a losing course. That knows it needs, desperately, to change the subject. I'm talking about the McCain campaign. The subject right now is the economy. And it's killing the incumbent party. If you ask someone if they like the direction this country is heading in, only a fraction, a slice of voters say, "Yeah, keep it up!" So what are the wiseguys around John McCain tell him? They tell him, that either he goes at his rival personally, or he loses. He needs to change the subject from, "What do you think of the way things are headed in this country?" to, "Who is this guy Barack Obama?" Mystery. That's what they want to shroud Obama with, mystery.
The guy's been out there in the open now for four years. We've been watching his every move, grabbing his every sound bite, watching everything he does in public. Everything we've looked at in his public record. But that's not the point. What the geniuses around John McCain want voters to do right now, is to worry about something they can't determine, could never determine from the facts.
They want to create a mystery, that the imaginative voter can connect, like a string of dots. From oh, palling around with terrorists to his middle name to his donor list, that might just include some foreigners. They're out to say that Barack Obama is friendly to the people now threatening our country. That's the dirt. And using this technique of creating a mystery in our minds, they want the voters to throw that dirt.

CBS's Early Show: McCain-Palin Making
Campaign 'Ugly'

At the top of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith described how the McCain campaign was criticizing Barack Obama for his connection to domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, but avoided any such label: "...dredging up of a character that Barack Obama knows from Chicago named Bill Ayers, who was one of the founders of the Weather Underground. So it's really getting crazy..." Smith offered no explanation of the terrorist activity launched by Weather Underground. In a later segment, correspondent Chip Reid also avoided the terrorist label, but did describe the activity of the organization: "William Ayers, a former radical who participated in a domestic bombing campaign during the Vietnam War."

At the same time that Smith and Reid worked to downplay Ayers's terrorist activity and connection to Obama, they also bashed the McCain campaign for daring to even mention such a connection. Smith began the show by declaring: "It's getting ugly. Less than a month to go and the campaigns are turning negative in the race for the White House...Desperate measures or smart strategy?...And the campaign is getting nasty to say the least." In his report, Reid blamed the ugliness and nastiness on the McCain campaign: "But with a flurry of new negative ads and attacks, it's clear the gloves are now completely off. John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is leading the charge...With the campaign's new bare knuckle strategy, attacking Barack Obama's character..."

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Reid followed by repeating the Obama campaigns talking points on the issue: "The Obama campaign says Obama and Ayers are only casual friends, whose children go to the same schools...Campaigning in North Carolina, Obama accused McCain of launching a smear campaign to distract attention from McCain's record on the economy." Reid went to described Obama's lead in the polls and an Obama rally in Ohio featuring Bruce Springsteen. Reid concluded his report by describing how the Obama campaign is: "...expecting John McCain to come out swinging as he struggles to find someway to try to turn this thing around."

The only suggestion that Obama was also engaging in negative campaigning was a few brief mentions of Obama ads attacking John McCain for his role in the Keating Five scandal. Smith began the show by explaining: "A couple of ads coming out now, one from the Obama side dredging up the memories of the Keating Five, the savings and loan scandal that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to several -- about 10,000 -- 20,000 stockholders, that implicated Senator John McCain." Later, Reid mentioned: "Later today they plan to release a so-called 'documentary' on it's campaign website detailing McCain's relationship with Charles Keating. The man at the center of the savings and loan scandal in the late 1980s." At no point during the segment was it explained that McCain was exonerated of any wrongdoing in the corruption scandal.

Following Reid's report, Smith interviewed McCain advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer and Obama communications director Robert Gibbs about the campaign attacks. When Pfotenhauer quoted a recent New York Times article that outlined Obama's connection to Ayers, Smith became visibly upset and angrily interrupted: "And what was the conclusion? Excuse me. And what was...Excuse me. What was the conclusion? What was the conclusion? What was the conclusion of that article?"

[See video of Smith scolding Pfotenhauer here: newsbusters.org

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: It's getting ugly. Less than a month to go and the campaigns are turning negative in the race for the White House.
SARAH PALIN: This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who targeted his own country.
BARACK OBAMA: They'd rather tear our campaign down than lift this country up. That's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time!
SMITH: Desperate measures or smart strategy? We'll ask both campaigns.

7:01AM TEASER:
SMITH: And the campaign is getting nasty to say the least. A couple of ads coming out now, one from the Obama side dredging up the memories of the Keating Five, the savings and loan scandal that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to several -- about 10,000 -- 20,000 stockholders, that implicated Senator John McCain. And of course, on the other side, the dredging up of a character that Barack Obama knows from Chicago named Bill Ayers, who was one of the founders of the Weather Underground. So it's really getting crazy and we're going to talk to people from the campaigns here in just a couple of minutes.

7:02AM SEGMENT:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: But first, the election. With less than a month to go, 29 days until election day, the battle for the White House has turned into a war of words. CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Chip Reid is in Asheville, North Carolina. Chip, good morning.

CHIP REID: Well, good morning, Maggie. You know, it wasn't long ago when Barack Obama and John McCain were both promising a positive, high-minded campaign. But with a flurry of new negative ads and attacks, it's clear the gloves are now completely off. John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is leading the charge.
SARAH PALIN: This is not a man who sees America as you and I do.
REID: With the campaign's new bare knuckle strategy, attacking Barack Obama's character, highlighting his friendship with William Ayers, a former radical who participated in a domestic bombing campaign during the Vietnam War.
PALIN: I think it's fair to talk about where Barack Obama kicked off his political career, in the guy's living room.
REID: And this morning, the McCain campaign is releasing a new ad attacking Obama, titled 'Dangerous.' The Obama campaign says Obama and Ayers are only casual friends, whose children go to the same schools. Later today they plan to release a so-called 'documentary' on it's campaign website detailing McCain's relationship with Charles Keating. The man at the center of the savings and loan scandal in the late 1980s. Campaigning in North Carolina, Obama accused McCain of launching a smear campaign to distract attention from McCain's record on the economy.
BARACK OBAMA: They'd rather tear our campaign down than lift this country up. That's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time!
REID: Recent polls show a significant shift in Obama's favor. North Carolina is one of ten states where George Bush won in 2004, but where polls now show Obama leading or in a virtual tie. One of those states is Ohio, where Bruce Springsteen rallied for Obama Sunday, and where a new poll shows Obama leading by seven points. Barack Obama will spend the day here in North Carolina, preparing for tomorrow night's debate and they're expecting John McCain to come out swinging as he struggles to find someway to try to turn this thing around. Harry.

HARRY SMITH: Joining us now from Arlington, Virginia is Nancy Pfotenhauer, a McCain campaign advisor, and from Asheville, North Carolina, Robert Gibbs, an adviser for the Obama campaign. Good morning to you both.
NANCY PFOTENHAUER: Good morning.
ROBERT GIBBS: Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: Just watching this package right now and watching the coverage over the weekend, so much for change and looking forward. Nancy, what is the point of all of this?
PFOTENHAUER: Well, I think what the point is, Harry, is that in four short weeks, Americans are going to pull the lever for the man who will be the next commander in chief of our country at a time when we face tremendous challenges both here with our economy and aboard-
SMITH: Right, we're aware of that.
PFOTENHAUER: And frankly, with Barack Obama, we know very little about this man. He has very -- very scant record and he, frankly, obfuscates or hides that record frequently on domestic issues, particularly, I could tick through a number, but public financing or campaign financing, Second Amendment issues, taxes, spending. He's got, I think, very questionable judgment in foreign policy and he's got these relationships with individuals that I think call into question his judgment-
SMITH: Robert?
PFOTENHAUER: -and again he downplays them and tries to kind of push them away.
SMITH: Robert? What do you say to all of that?
ROBERT GIBBS: Yes, sir. Well, look it's surprising to hear Nancy talk about issues when in the front pages of major newspapers on Saturday, the McCain campaign announced that they wanted to sweep under the rug any discussion about the economy. They wanted to, quote, 'turn the page' on talking about the economy. And go into a character assassination and smear campaign that news organizations even this weekend called desperate and dishonest. The American people deserve, Harry, far better than what they're getting from the McCain campaign. Our economy's in trouble. 150 -- 159,000 people lost their jobs just last month and the McCain campaign would much rather engage in a character assassination smear campaign than talk about their plans to make this economy strong again. That's not what people deserve in this election.
SMITH: So Nancy, you guys dredge up Bill Ayers. Gibbs and company is going to dredge up Charles Keating. Do either of these steps back into the past help answer the question who best to lead, which is the decision America has to make in less than a month?
PFOTENHAUER: Well, you know, Harry, I just might point out that we didn't dredge this information up, the 'New York Times' spent 2,000 words on an article about it the other day. The 'Wall Street Journal's' written on it.
SMITH: And what was the conclusion? Excuse me. And what was-
PFOTENHAUER: The Chicago -- the Chicago papers have-
SMITH: Excuse me. What was the conclusion? What was the conclusion? What was the conclusion of that article?
PFOTENHAUER: What the article also concluded is that if Senator McCain had hung out with somebody who bombed abortion clinics, no one would consider it illegitimate. And again, I might point out that Hillary Clinton raised this as an issue as well. The reason that some of this is relevant is because it speaks to the judgment of the people involved and it also speaks to whether the individuals are being straight forward about the plans that they're advocating for their path forward-
SMITH: Alright-
PFOTENHAUER: Senator Obama talks about cutting taxes but he's got-
GIBBS: Harry, let's-
PFOTENHAUER: -a history of raising them and I could go on and on.
SMITH: Okay, alright, alright. Nancy -- alright.
GIBBS: Harry, let's talk about being straight forward-
SMITH: Final word, final word.
GIBBS: -because I'm not sure -- I'm not sure in the several minutes that you just heard from Nancy you got any sort of answer. But the -- obvious the article said they knew each other, but of course they weren't close. Bill Ayers has played no role in Barack Obama's campaign. Barack Obama has condemned the attacks that happened when Barack Obama was 8 years old. Charles Keating is relevant in this campaign because the actions of a United States Senator to pressure regulators to stop -- against stopping criminal activity at a savings and loan that cost tens of thousands of people their life savings is relevant in the very current news that we have in our struggling economy where we're watching banks collapse each and every day. Is that the kind of leadership, is that the kind of person we trust to get our economy going again?
SMITH: There you go.
PFOTENHAUER: That's just-
SMITH: So much for civilized discourse, kids. We will look forward to the debate Tuesday night. Nancy Pfotenhauer and Robert Gibbs, take care.
GIBBS: Thank you.

GMA Deplores Palin's 'Guilt by Association'
Attack on Obama

ABC reporter David Wright continued his sympathetic spinning for Senator Barack Obama on Monday's Good Morning America and assailed Governor Sarah Palin. He complained: "Last night in Omaha, Sarah Palin not only questioned Obama's patriotism...she accused him of consorting with terrorists." And while Wright explained briefly Palin's observation that Obama has been associated with William Ayers, a former member of the violent Weather Underground, he downplayed the connection.

After describing Palin's comment as accusing Obama of "consorting with terrorists," Wright later described the remarks as "guilt by association." The journalist then quoted a McCain representative, "...They say, Barack Obama has been fundamentally dishonest about his work with an unrepentant terrorist. That's the quote from the McCain campaign." However, it's Wright who was being misleading in treating the McCain/Palin statements as an accusation. It's a simple fact: William Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist. In 2001, speaking of his 30 bombings, including attacks on the Pentagon, he said: "I feel we didn't do enough." And yet, in a follow-up segment, Wright described Palin's speech as "sticking in the knife" He closed the first piece by solemnly intoning: "The mud is really starting to fly here and whoever can make the mud stick, well, that person may be the winner a month from now."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

And although Wright seemed shocked that Palin "questioned Obama's patriotism," which would have to be inferred from her statement, the same morning show ignored House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she directly attacked the "unpatriotic" Republican members of the House. This occurred on September 27 during the wrangling over the bailout bill.

During campaign 2008, David Wright has developed quite a reputation for gushing over Obama and defending him against charges. On April 17, 2008, he labeled terrorist bomber Ayers simply as a "neighbor" of the now-Democratic presidential nominee. (This is despite the fact that an organizing meeting for Obama's state senate campaign was held at Ayers' house and the former Weather Underground member donated $200 to the Democrat in 2001.) See an April 18, 2008 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

On February 19, 2008, he rhapsodized that Obama rallies are like "Springsteen concerts, but the tickets are free." See a February 21, 2008 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

A transcript of the October 6 segment, which aired at 7:02am, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: [ABC graphic: Race Gets Nasty]: This morning, Sarah Palin leads the negative attacks for John McCain as the Obama forces prepare to fight back. Is this what America wants 29 days before the election? We weigh in with both sides.

7:01am
SAWYER: Sarah Palin said, Governor Palin said, "The heels are on, the gloves are off" and as we said, she's leading the attacks for the McCain campaign.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Obama fought back right away with an ad, a new attack ad against his opponent. How will all of this play out with voters? Again, with less than 30 days to go to the election?
SAWYER: That's right and we are going to hear from both sides.

7:02am
ROBERTS: But we begin, Diane, as you know, with the countdown to Election Day, just 29 days to go. And the race is truly heating up now. Our David Wright is on the campaign trail with Governor Sarah Palin in Clearwater, Florida. Good morning, David.
DAVID WRIGHT: Good morning, Robin. You know, if the election were held today, Barack Obama would probably win. But there is, as you say, still a month to go, time enough for John McCain to turn this around. And we now have a sense of how he plans to try and turn it around. By raising doubts about Obama, by sharpening the attacks. And so far, some of the sharpest attacks are coming from his running mate.
WRIGHT: Last night in Omaha, Sarah Palin not only questioned Obama's patriotism-
SARAH PALIN: This is not a man who sees America as you and I do.
WRIGHT: -she accused him of consorting with terrorists.
PALIN: I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who targeted his own country. And this, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change that anyone can believe in.
WRIGHT: Palin was talking about Obama's association with this man, Bill Ayers, a Chicago professor who was once a member of the violent Weather Underground. Obama has called Ayers actions of the 1960s detestable, but the two men have worked together on the board of a Chicago nonprofit.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: They'd rather tear our campaign down then lift this country up. That's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas and running out of time.
RON BONJEAN (Republican strategist): It's clear we're at a tipping point. We're at a decisive moment where Senator McCain needs to act and act fast.
WRIGHT: The McCain campaign is firing with both barrels. Campaign watchdogs say 100 percent of the ads they're running are negative. Today, the candidate himself plans to draw the contrast in a major speech. But today, the Obama campaign is attacking back.
OBAMA AD: Fraud is the creation of trust and then its betrayal.
WRIGHT: Following the McCain lead of guilt by association, the Obama campaign is releasing a new web documentary reminding voters that back in the '80s, McCain was one of the Keating 5.
OBAMA AD: The Keating 5 involved all the things that have brought the modern crisis.
WRIGHT: Five members of Congress who did the bidding of one of the biggest culprits of the savings and loan bailout. Now there's some obvious parallels between that financial crisis and the current one. And the Obama campaign is hoping to raise them. Meanwhile, this response from the McCain campaign. They say the difference between the two analogies is clear, that John McCain has been open and honest about the Keating matter. But by contrast they say, Barack Obama has been fundamentally dishonest about his work with an unrepentant terrorist. That's the quote from the McCain campaign. The mud is really starting to fly here and whoever can make the mud stick, well, that person may be the winner a month from now. Diane?

7:13
WRIGHT: Well, since the debate, Sarah Palin has been out on the road, sticking in the knife and wowing the crowd. She continues to draw huge crowds. Big crowds after the convention, even bigger crowds now and they seem to be rejuvenated by her performance. Joe Biden has taken a break from the trail. His son had his deployment ceremony for Iraq and after that his mother-in-law became sick and passed away so. So, for now, he's not out on the campaign trail But Sarah Palin is out in force.

CNN's 'Truth Squad' Obfuscates Obama
Link to Terrorist Ayers

CNN's so-called Truth Squad, in two reports on Sunday and Monday by two different correspondents, labeled Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "false" for stating that Barack Obama "sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country." The Squad, in their "fact-checking" of the Alaska governor, who was making a reference to left-wing terrorist William Ayers, obfuscated Obama's past connections to the former leader of the Weather Underground. The Squad's reports, which aired on CNN's Sunday Morning program and on Monday's American Morning, also left out key details about the Democratic presidential candidate's past with Ayers.

The network first made an attempt at "fact-checking" Palin's statement, which she made at a campaign rally in Carson, California, near the beginning of the 7 am hour of their Sunday Morning program. Anchor T.J. Holmes, after a report by Don Lemon on the Alaska governor's claim, gave a brief look at the Obama/Ayers connection. "Well, nobody's exactly sure how well Bill Ayers and Barack Obama know each other. The New York Times, CNN, other news organizations have looked into this, found that they apparently did not have a very close relationship, it appears." Well, that's about as clear as Mississippi River mud, and one might guess that Holmes was asking his audience to take the word of two liberal media outlets.

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Holmes then gave a short bio of Ayers: "So, exactly who is Bill Ayers? Today, he is a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Back in the '60s, however, Ayers was a radical activist and a founding member of the group the Weather Underground. That group was behind several bombings in Washington, including at the Capitol and the Pentagon. Riot and conspiracy charges against Ayers were dropped in 1974." After this, he returned to discussing the Obama/Ayers connection: "Ayers and Obama were, in fact, acquaintances. They live in the same Chicago neighborhood, and in 1995, Obama attended a political meeting at Ayers' home. Obama and Ayers also served together on a Chicago charity from 1995 to 1999."

Actually, Obama and Ayers served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based organization, from 1999 to 2002. The Fund, which is a $72 million foundation, has given large grants to several liberal organizations (David Freddoso gave a thorough description of these grants in his book, The Case Against Barack Obama). Among these organizations is ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which over the past several years has been connected to incidents of voter registration fraud.

More importantly, CNN did not go into detail about the 1995 "political meeting at Ayers' home," where he lives with his wife Bernadine Dohrn (who was an active member of the Weather Underground herself, and is known for her praise of the Charles Manson murders: "Dig it! Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim's stomach"). A February, 22, 2008 story by Ben Smith of the Politico described how "[Illinois] State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district's influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn." In other words, Obama's political career more or less began in the home of two left-wing terrorists. Smith later recounted in his story that the New York Times quoted Ayers (in their September 11, 2001 edition no less, according to Freddoso; in the same article, the Dohrn quote about Manson appeared) as saying, "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough." The detail that this political meeting with Ayers took place at his house would be left out by CNN in the subsequent "Truth Squad" reports.

For Ben Smith's February, 22, 2008 article on the Obama/Ayers connection, which included Ayers' quote, "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough," see "Obama once visited '60s radicals" at: www.politico.com

The first "Truth Squad" report aired about an hour and 15 minutes after Holmes gave his first brief "fact-check." Correspondent Josh Levs detailed the "radical" background of Ayers, and then gave the following outline: "...[W]e have a graphic for you here laying out a few facts about Ayers and Obama.... They live in the same neighborhood. Both worked with a nonprofit -- Annenberg Challenge, on a local school improvement project, and both were board members for the same charity. Ayers hosted a campaign event for Obama when Obama was running for state Senate. But Obama's campaign says they had no contact by phone or email since 2005." The correspondent then parsed one of Palin's words, just as CNN.com had done in their "fact-check:" "Now, we contacted the McCain campaign because we wanted to understand why Palin used the plural word, 'terrorists,' and we did not hear back from the McCain campaign." Levs failed to mention Bernadine Dohrn's marriage to Ayers, so the lack of understanding of Palin's use of the plural could be understandable.

For more on how CNN.com parsed Palin's use of the plural word "terrorists," see Terry Trippany's October 5 NewsBusters.org item, "CNN Ignores Bernardine Dohrn's Terrorist Past While Defending Obama" at: newsbusters.org

At the end of the report, Levs delivered CNN's "verdict:"

LEVS: Let's go to the verdict now, which I have for you from the CNN 'Truth Squad.' Our verdict here is false. There's no indication that Ayers and Obama are palling around, or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. And also, there's nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activities other than -- or that any other Obama associates are. So, there you go. We kind of jumped on that one yesterday. As soon as we heard it on the campaign trail, obviously, it was a key one for the 'Truth Squad' to tackle. So, we got it for you.
This whole "there's nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activities other than -- or that any other Obama associates are" distracts from the fact that Ayers proudly stated in the NY Times that he doesn't "regret setting bombs" and felt that he and his Weather Underground bombers "didn't do enough."

On Monday's American Morning, correspondent Jason Carroll gave his own version of the "Truth Squad" "fact-check" during a report 19 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the CNN program. After co-host John Roberts introduced the report, Carroll began with an apparent Freudian slip: "She's definitely getting ugly out there. It was a harshly worded political weekend -- Sarah Palin twice linking Barack Obama to terrorists." After playing the "money quote" from Palin, he then gave the following analysis:

CARROLL: A dramatic charge, but is it right? We know that Palin was referring to at least, in part, to the man that you see there on the left here -- '60s radical William Ayers. Ayers and his wife were members of the Weather Underground, a group that protested the Vietnam War by bombing government buildings, including the Pentagon and the Capitol. The FBI labeled it a domestic terrorist group, and Ayers and his wife spent 10 years on the run. Charges were eventually dropped, but only after it was ruled that the FBI crossed the line in obtaining evidence. Ayers went on to become a professor at the University of Illinois, and settled down in Obama's Chicago neighborhood. The two met in 1995 and served on two boards together. In 1995, they worked on a school improvement program. That same year, Ayers hosted a campaign event for Obama, as Obama began to bid for the U.S. Senate. And from 1999 to 2001, both were board members for a charity foundation known at the Woods Fund. But Obama's campaign says they have not spoken on the phone or e-mailed since 2005, when Obama became a U.S. senator, and we found no evidence they were social outside of the work they did together.
So, what's the verdict here? Is Palin right to say Obama is palling around with terrorists? The 'Truth Squad' says -- no. This one is false. The two definitely know each other and had worked together, but there is no indication that Obama and Ayers are 'palling around' or have an ongoing relationship. There is also nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity, or that any Obama associates are.
In fact, we reached out to the McCain campaign to ask specifically about Palin's use of the plural 'terrorists,' but they did not respond.

So Carroll basically rehashed what his fellow correspondent Josh Levs outlined the morning before, all the while omitting where this "campaign event" took place and continuing to parse over the plural word "terrorists." Roberts actually had to correct Carroll, as he said that the meeting at Ayers took place as he "began to bid for the U.S. Senate," instead of at the beginning of his campaign for the Illinois State Senate. Also, according to an AP report on April 17, 2008, Obama left the Woods Fund board in December 2002, not in 2001. When that report was filed, Ayers was actually still on the Fund's board.

For the AP report on Obama's tenure on the Woods Funds's board with Ayers, see "Fact Check: Obama's Relationship with William Ayers" at: elections.foxnews.com

Whoopi Goldberg on The View: McCain 'Pulling
Out Garbage'

With the McCain campaign's new offensive on Barack Obama and his ties with William Ayers, View co-host Whoopi Goldberg on Monday suggested McCain is playing this card out of desperation and using the same failed tactics of Hillary Clinton: "The man is losing. The man is losing and he's pulling out garbage that didn't work for Clinton. It's not going to work for him." Discussing Ayers, Goldberg "assume[d] that he rehabilitated himself." When Elisabeth Hasselbeck, outnumbered three to one, reminded the panel that Ayers expressed regret in 2001 that he had not done more, Sherri Shepherd wagged her finger in Elisabeth's face, lecturing: "No you don't Elisabeth." Shepherd retorted that Ayers' remarks were not about September 11, something already known.

[This item, by the MRC's Justin McCarthy, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Barbara Walters, for her part, called such campaign tactics "smears" even as Elisabeth asserted that they are not smears, but true. Walters, also added that attacks on McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal was a smear as well and such attacks distract us for the many challenges the United States faces.

From the October 6 show:

GOLDBERG: Both campaigns have gone on the attack now. Palin has been accusing Obama of paling around with terrorists. And Obama's accusing McCain of being involved with the Keating Five Savings and Loan scandal. Any thoughts?
WALTERS: Well, two things. The whole business about the terrorists is the relationship with-
HASSELBECK: William Ayers.
WALTERS: Which was-
HASSELBECK: Of the Weather Underground.
WALTERS: -years ago.
GOLDBERG: Forty years ago.
WALTERS: He was friendly with this man who's life has changed. All of this was brought up during the Democratic campaign. There was, you know, there was, now it's being rehashed and rehashed. We did it. It was discussed. That was in the past. His life has changed.
HASSELBECK: Why doesn't it matter though?
WALTERS: Because we didn't-
HASSELBECK: Just because it's in the past, doesn't- 9/11 is in the past. It's still important.
WALTERS: Alright let me go on. I don't also think there's a reason to bring up the Keating Five, which is the other side. In case you don't remember, Keating Five were five United States senators, one of whom was John McCain who was accused of corruption in 1989 igniting, it was a major political scandal having to do with the Savings and Loan. And they were accused of, I'm quoting, "improperly intervening on behalf of Charles Keating," et cetera. Now we can bring that up and dump that on John McCain now. Let's discuss the economy for heaven's sakes. Let's discuss health care. Let's discuss insurance for kids. Let's not drag up just to discredit people on either side. [applause] There are much more important issues.
GOLDBERG: Here's, here's the other thing also. I mean, one of the things that, that no one has talked about is that, number one, Bill Ayers surrendered in 1980 to the federal government. He turned himself in to the feds. He, like a lot of us in a certain generation were pissed at the United States of America. Some were more radical than others. Some, some did stuff that, you know, they shouldn't have done. And, you know, he turned himself in. He, I assume, rehabilitated himself because from 1980 to now, I don't recall anyone saying in 2001, "oh we got to go get Bill Ayers. He's a terrorist." I- wait no- let me just finish-
HASSELBECK: Sure, sure.
GOLDBERG: -because I know you have a lot to say. [laughter] I don't think anyone has been looking at him as a terrorist until now. When someone's past is in- we talked about this a little bit, so maybe yours wasn't- maybe it was Bill. You know, there are senators and congressmen that had pasts. And at some point you have to say "forty years ago this is what you did. What are you doing now?" Because otherwise you have to say that the parents of the kids who are in his classes and the school itself and all of the faculty are carousing with the terrorists.
HASSELBECK: You know what? This terrorist-
GOLDBERG: And I don't believe- I'm sorry- I don't believe that, that is any better than John McCain being, having to rake over John McCain over-
WALTERS: 17 years ago.
GOLDBERG: 17 years ago. And the other thing, wait, let me just finish. And Barack Obama is not the terrorist. Let's make sure that we're clear [applause] that Barack Obama is not the terrorist. So linking him to people and link- we can link all of these guys to people. That's- I'm done.
HASSELBECK: Okay, two things, one John McLean- John McCain was cleared of any charges. The ethics commission declared him- his actions cleared and his actions not improper. Number two, in terms of- and I wish Sarah Palin would come out specifically-
WALTERS: He was accused of it.
SHEPHERD: He used poor judgment.
HASSELBECK: They also found his actions were not improper.
WALTERS: He used poor judgment. It was lobbying.
HASSELBECK: Sure, but don't you-
WALTERS: Keep in mind that both of them, can't we get away from smears?
HASSELBECK: No, because some of these things are not-
WALTERS: Why no? Why no?
HASSELBECK: This is not about smearing. John McCain-
GOLDBERG: You don't understand. You don't understand.
HASSELBECK: John McCain has-
GOLDBERG: You can't get away from smears.
HASSELBECK: I don't believe that this is a smear. John McCain has been open about what happened with the Keating Five. And he was cleared. Number two, Barack Obama went to a party with William Ayers. And I wish Sarah Palin, when she addresses the crowds, would get specific and say not "my opponent," not "our opponent," and not "a terrorist." Barack Obama went to the house of William Ayers-
GOLDBERG: Yeah.
HASSELBECK: -who is a U.S. terrorist-
GOLDBERG: In 2002.
HASSELBECK: It doesn't matter.
GOLDBERG: Oh my God!
HASSELBECK: After 9/11, William Ayers said he was unrepentant about his bombings and said that he wishes that he had done more.
SHEPHERD: No, no, wait, wait, no you don't Elisabeth. When he made his comment it was about his book. It was not about 9/11. That book was about to come out. It was 40 years ago, when Obama was eight, there was a rabbi that was-
HASSELBECK: I don't care-
WALTERS: Can I just ask you a question? You said you don't care whether or how long, or he was friendly with him-
HASSELBECK: He has a history of this.
WALTERS: Well wait, wait, wait. Doesn't it bother you, with everything that's going wrong with this country, that either side is going back to smearing? Is that the way-
HASSELBECK: It's the truth.
SHEPHERD: But Elisabeth-
GOLDBERG: The man is losing. The man is losing and he's pulling out garbage that didn't work for Clinton. It's not going to work for him.
[applause]
HASSELBECK: It doesn't matter Whoopi. Here's the thing. This is not about winning or losing. This is what bothers me truly about Barack Obama because when I heard him back, I really thought there was hope for him. It bothers me that he's not open. Whether you agree with Sarah Palin or not, she's open-
SHEPHERD: Why do you say he's not open? He did-
HASSELBECK: He used to hide, he used to hide all of his radical connections-
GOLDBERG: You know what? That's bullshi- oh!
HASSELBECK: He obviously does not want to address.
WALTERS: He has addressed it.

-- Brent Baker