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Kurtz's Obama-ayers Fishing Expedition Comes Up Empty

I almost feel sorry for Stanley Kurtz. Last month the conservative writer was making a big stink that, in the course of researaching Barack Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers, the University of Illinois at Chicago library had denied him access to "the internal files" of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which was a nonprofit educational group both men were affiliated with in the 1990s. Kurtz protested:

The records in question are extensive, consisting of 132 boxes, containing 947 file folders, a total of about 70 linear feet of material. Not only would these files illuminate the working relationship between Obama and Bill Ayers, they would also provide significant insight into a web of ties linking Obama to various radical organizations, including Obama-approved foundation gifts to political allies. Obama’s leadership style and abilities are also sure to be illuminated by the documents in question.

Well, lo and behold, Kurtz finally gained access to those 70 linear feet of material, and, judging by the op-ed he's produced in today's Wall Street Journal, it looks like he found less an inch worth of damning material. Not that Kurtz would admit as much. His WSJ article is titled "Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism on Schools," but the evidence for that consists largely of scare quotes ("leadership," "organized," "external partners," etc) and leaps of logic designed to substitute for actual evidence, as in the final three sentences of the following graf:

One unsettled question is how Mr. Obama, a former community organizer fresh out of law school, could vault to the top of a new foundation? In response to my questions, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying that Mr. Ayers had nothing to do with Obama's "recruitment" to the board. The statement says Deborah Leff and Patricia Albjerg Graham (presidents of other foundations) recruited him. Yet the archives show that, along with Ms. Leff and Ms. Graham, Mr. Ayers was one of a working group of five who assembled the initial board in 1994. Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval. [Emphasis added.]

So Kurtz spends days wading through 70 linear feet of material, suffers lord knows how many paper cuts, and the best he can come up with is that Ayers was part of a five-person "working group" that signed off on Obama joining CAC's board? That's pretty weak.

--Jason Zengerle