Stanley Kurtz fact checks the Star Tribune

Minnesota Sixth District Rep. Michele Bachmann is under assault for remarks she made last week about Barack Obama on MSNBC. Yesterday the Star Tribune ran a story by Patricia Lopez about Bachmann’s remarks and their impact on her race.

Rep. Bachmann took the bait offered by Chris Matthews to suggest that she was concerned that Barack Obama may harbor anti-American views. Lopez seems excited to report that in expressing her concern she incurred the wrath of Colin Powell, among others. Secretary Powell is the beneficiary of a strange new respect at the Star Tribune.

Buried in Lopez’s story is this gem:

On Friday, on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Bachmann asserted that Obama has a close connection to 1960s radical William Ayers., a nonpartisan effort by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said, “There’s … no evidence of a deep or strong ‘friendship’ with Ayers.”

The article’s link is to the site rather than to the post on the Obama-Ayers relationship. The post on the Obama-Ayers relationship is here. The Annenberg fact check asserts in its summary:

McCain describes the two as associates, and Palin claims they “pal around” together. But so far as is known, their relationship was never very close. An Obama spokesman says they last saw each other in a chance encounter on the street more than a year ago.

So there.

It is ironic that the Star Tribune relies on the Annenberg Public Policy Center to refute Bachmann’s claim that Obama and Ayers were friends. The best evidence that Obama and Ayers had a close working relationship derives from their work on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. On this point the authority is not the Annenberg Public Policy Center, but rather the Ethics and Public Policy Center, or at least EPPC fellow Stanley Kurtz. What does Kurtz think? Anyone who has been following Kurtz’s research on this point will not be surprised to discover that Kurtz is not impressed by the Star Tribune’s reliance on the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s fact check:

Apparently, Rep. Michele Bachman is being furiously “fact-checked” for having claimed that Barack Obama had a close connection with unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers. According to, a supposedly non-partisan organization, “There’s…no evidence of a deep or strong friendship with Ayers.”

In fact, Obama and Ayers had a significant political partnership. We saw it at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, where Obama ran a board that was responsible for channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bill Ayers’ education projects. We saw it during the fight over the juvenile justice bill in Illinois in 1997-98, when Obama and Ayers appeared on a panel designed to undermine a very reasonable juvenile crime bill, and when Obama plugged Ayers’ book on juvenile justice in the Chicago Tribune. We also have considerable evidence that the Obama camp has not been fully forthcoming about possible additional connections between Ayers and Obama.

Instead of doing unconvincing, and unsupported “fact-checks” on the Obama-Ayers connection why isn’t the media pressing Obama associate Ken Rolling on his exceedingly un-credible claims about his role in blocking my access to documents about Obama’s past, or on his apparent determination not to tell the full story of Ayers’ role in Obama’s elevation to board chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge?

For articles the Minnesota press can refer to if it wants to develop a more genuine “fact-check” on the Obama-Ayers relationship, see here, here, here, here, and here. I’d say Rep. Bachman has some very significant reasons to be concerned about Obama’s past. The press seems more interested in attacking Rep. Bachman than in doing its job by asking Obama the many legitimate questions that flow out of his past dealings with Bill Ayers.

What is to explain the superficiality of Pat Lopez’s reportage on the Obama-Ayers relationship in the course of her fact checking Michele Bachmann? Perhaps Pat Lopez is so excited by the prospect of Michele Bachmann being upset that she can’t pause to get her facts straight. Perhaps Pat Lopez doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Or both. We can be certain, however, that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about if she gets her her news from mainstream media outlets like the Star Tribune.

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