Just in time for Independence Day, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly hosted a two part preview of an interview with Bill Ayers  that will air in full July 4. The July 2 segment pitted the former Weather Underground bomber against conservative filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, who’s new film, “America” was also released July 2.
Ayers, who never repented of bombings and other crimes, is now somehow a college professor and education theorist. In 2008, Barack Obama downplayed Ayers as “a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” but the two sat on philanthropic boards together and Obama actually kicked off his political career with an event Ayers’ hosted in his home. Some, including Stanley Kurtz , believe the association is much deeper than “guy in the neighborhood.”
Kelly began the debate with the question, “Is America a force for good?” Ayers couldn’t condescend to call America “good” but instead said “I believe that America plays a role that’s both good and bad in the world.” Kelly questioned then whether Ayers’ views were anti-American. Ayers defended his belief in America’s “tradition of dissidence,” which D’Souza instead characterized as the anti-American “spirit of 1968.” Ayers reasoned, “the first Bill of Rights was the push from below,” listing the women’s suffrage movement and the abolitionist movement as examples of America’s revolutionary and radical past.
When Kelly pressed Ayers if he believed “by any means necessary” was acceptable to achieve justice (referencing Ayers’ terrorism in the 1960s and 70s), Ayers denied that premise, but went on to defend breaking the law.
Ayers explained that the black civil rights movement “broke the law consistently and that was part of the strength and beauty of it.
Kelly brought up a recent pew poll which revealed that only 20 percent of liberal Americans identify as “proud to be an American” while 70 percent of conservative Americans say the same thing. “Why do you think it is so few liberals say they are proud to be an American?” she asked Ayers.
AYERS: I have no idea. I’m not a liberal. But if that’s what you mean.
KELLY: Are you proud to be an American?
AYERS: I’m not proud to be an American and I don’t buy the American exceptionalism at all. And the reason I’m not proud to be an American is because of the damage that we do around the world is so serious and so ongoing . So if you look anywhere in the world, look at Latin America. All through Latin America, ordinary people on the street admire Cuba for one reason: they stood up to America. They stood up to imperial advances.
D’Souza rebutted that “America is benign in the way it exercises its power” and that other countries would abuse this same kind of power and technology if they had access to it.
“The American idea of wealth creation is being embraced in India, in China, all over the world,” he said. “It’s lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. So ironically, this American formula that we are moving away from at home under Obama, is being enthusiastically embraced all around the world.”
Of course, D’Souza had as much success persuading the inveterate America-hater as conservatives had in getting the media to vet Barack Obama and the guys in his neighborhood.
— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.