NPR and the Los Angeles Times reported Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that Sen. Barack Obama has been "palling around with terrorists," a reference to his acquaintance with William Ayers. However, neither noted Palin's distortion of The New York Times article she cited, which reported that "the two men do not appear to be close."
During the October 7 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, national political correspondent Mara Liasson reported that Gov. Sarah Palin has been "saying that [Sen. Barack] Obama pals around with domestic terrorists." Similarly, in an October 7 Los Angeles Times article, staff writer Peter Wallsten reported that Palin "has taken the lead in delivering the most zealous attacks on Obama's character. Over the weekend, she accused him of 'palling around with terrorists,' referring to [William] Ayers, a founder of the radical Weather Underground." While Wallsten reported that Obama "has denied having strong ties with Ayers," and "has denounced the tactics and Ayers' views," neither Liasson nor Wallsten pointed out that The New York Times, in the October 4 article Palin cited in making her claim, reported that "the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called 'somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.' "
This is the second time in two days that a report on NPR's Morning Edition has quoted Palin's comments about Ayers without noting that Palin was distorting the NY Times article she cited.
By contrast, in an October 6 LA Times article, staff writers Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta reported that "Palin noted that the New York Times had written about the Ayers-Obama link. The article concluded, however, that the men were not close." Additionally, Washington Post staff writer Michael Abramowitz noted in an October 5 article that Palin's comments are a "distortion of what the Times story concluded."
From the October 7 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition:
SHAPIRO: Tonight, 100 voters who have yet to settle on a presidential candidate will have a chance to quiz John McCain and Barack Obama. The second of three presidential debates takes place on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville. It'll be a town hall-style format, moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw. NPR's Mara Liasson will be there, and she joins us now for a preview. Good morning, Mara.
LIASSON: Good morning, Ari.
SHAPIRO: This debate comes just as the campaign is getting more aggressive and more negative. Does that seem about on schedule a month before the election?
LIASSON: Yes, it does. The campaign is getting very, very aggressive. You have Sarah Palin saying that Obama pals around with domestic terrorists. You have Obama running this 13-minute Web video about McCain's connections to the villain of the 1980s savings and loan scandal, Charles Keating. You have Obama running an ad that seems to question McCain's mental stability, saying he's erratic. And you have McCain running an ad that says Obama is dishonorable. So, that's what's happening now, just at a time when voters are very concerned about the economy, and, of course, that's been helping Obama.
From the October 7 Los Angeles Times article:
Palin, meantime, has taken the lead in delivering the most zealous attacks on Obama's character. Over the weekend, she accused him of "palling around with terrorists," referring to Ayers, a founder of the radical Weather Underground.
On Monday, a pro-McCain columnist quoted her questioning why Obama's ties with Wright were not being discussed more, "because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that -- with, I don't know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn't get up and leave -- to me, that does say something about character."
Obama cut off ties with Wright earlier this year and quit his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ, where he had worshiped for two decades with Wright, whom he has credited with helping him become a Christian.
The Illinois senator has denied having strong ties with Ayers, whose group was connected with several bombings during the Vietnam War era. Obama has denounced the tactics and Ayers' views.