On Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris baselessly claimed that William Ayers "hired" Sen. Barack Obama as chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge "to distribute the $50 million that Ayers raised" for the educational organization. However, The New York Times reported that "according to several people involved, Mr. Ayers played no role in Mr. Obama's appointment," while the Obama campaign also has said that Ayers did not "arrange" Obama's CAC chairmanship.
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Fox News contributor Dick Morris baselessly claimed on the October 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes that former Weather Underground member William Ayers "hired" Sen. Barack Obama as chairman of the board for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), "to distribute the $50 million that Ayers raised" for the educational organization. Earlier in the program, Morris similarly asserted that Ayers "chose Obama to pass the money out" for the CAC. But an October 4 New York Times article reported that "according to several people involved, Mr. Ayers played no role in Mr. Obama's appointment." The Obama campaign also has said that Ayers did not "arrange" Obama's CAC chairmanship.
In the October 4 article by reporter Scott Shane, The New York Times reported:
In March 1995, Mr. Obama became chairman of the six-member board that oversaw the distribution of grants in Chicago. Some bloggers have recently speculated that Mr. Ayers had engineered that post for him.
In fact, according to several people involved, Mr. Ayers played no role in Mr. Obama's appointment. Instead, it was suggested by Deborah Leff, then president of the Joyce Foundation, a Chicago-based group whose board Mr. Obama, a young lawyer, had joined the previous year. At a lunch with two other foundation heads, Patricia A. Graham of the Spencer Foundation and Adele Simmons of the MacArthur Foundation, Ms. Leff suggested that Mr. Obama would make a good board chairman, she said in an interview. Mr. Ayers was not present and had not suggested Mr. Obama, she said.
Ms. Graham said she invited Mr. Obama to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Chicago and was impressed.
"At the end of the dinner I said, 'I really want you to be chairman.' He said, 'I'll do it if you'll be vice chairman,' " Ms. Graham recalled, and she agreed.
Archives of the Chicago Annenberg project, which funneled the money to networks of schools from 1995 to 2000, show both men attended six board meetings early in the project -- Mr. Obama as chairman, Mr. Ayers to brief members on school issues.
Similarly, according to an Obama campaign fact check of conservative columnist Stanley Kurtz's "false allegation that Bill Ayers arranged Obama's chairmanship of the Annenberg Board," Obama was "recommended for the CAC chairmanship by Deborah Leff, nominated by Pat Graham, and elected by the original Annenberg Board." The fact check quotes Leff saying: "While working with Adele Simmons and Patricia Graham to identify a highly qualified person to chair the education reform organization the Annenberg Challenge, I recommended Barack Obama to serve as Chair. After meeting with Obama to review his qualifications, Patricia Graham asked Obama to become a candidate for the position." The fact check also quotes Ken Rolling, former executive director of the Annenberg Challenge, saying: "After being recommended by Deborah Leff and recruited by Pat Graham, Barack Obama was elected as Chair of the Annenberg Challenge by the founding Board of Directors of the Annenberg Challenge -- Susan Crown, Pat Graham, Stanley Ikenberry, Ray Romero, Arnold Weber, and Wanda White."
From the October 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
MORRIS: But let's pay attention to the closeness of the relationship between Ayers and Obama. Ayers got 50 million bucks from the Annenberg Fund to use for education in Chicago. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge, CAC -- it was Ayers who applied for the grant, it was Ayers who got the money, and then he chose Obama to pass the money out. And for five years, Obama distributed $60 million a year to education in Chicago, and it didn't go to schools. What it went to was extremist community groups like ACORN and other really left-wing groups that were called external partners of schools --
HANNITY: All right, Dick --
MORRIS: -- and their job was to infuse the students with radical ideology. So, you can't put -- this is no longer an arm's length relationship --
HANNITY: All right, but --
MORRIS: -- between Ayers and Obama.
MORRIS: I don't think it matters that he sat on the board with Ayers. I don't think it matters that he was in a -- shared a platform. I don't even think it matters that he had an event at his home. What I think matters is that William Ayers hired him to distribute the $50 million that Ayers raised. And that is the only executive experience Obama's had. And I think the looking in the eye should be, this is not somebody who you just ran into in the neighborhood.