Campaign Trivia Gone Viral

Currently a well-respected and widely published educator, Bill Ayers discusses the periodic “media episodes of fleeting notoriety” around his former membership in the Weather Underground–“it was always a bit surreal. Then came this political season”–and charts (In These Times, 11/7/08) how the ’08 campaign mania around him was amplified while bouncing from political operatives to the punditry and back again:

During the primary, the blogosphere was full of chatter about my relationship with President-elect Barack Obama…. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign provided the script, which included guilt by association….

On March 13, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), apparently in an attempt to reassure the “base,” sat down for an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News. McCain was not yet aware of the narrative Hannity had been spinning for months, and so Hannity filled him in: Ayers is an unrepentant “terrorist,” he explained….

On the campaign trail, McCain immediately got on message. I became a prop, a cartoon character created to be pummeled.

Ayers illustrates the end results of Hannity’s crusade by writing of how “when Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin got hold of it, the attack went viral” and “she said Obama was ‘pallin’ around with terrorists”: “The crowd began chanting, ‘Kill him!’ ‘Kill him!’ It was downhill from there.”

See FAIR’s Media Advisory: Ayers = Keating?: Media Falsely Balance Obama, McCain Attacks (10/10/08)