NPR, Reuters reported Palin's claim that Obama has been "palling around with terrorists" -- but not her distortion of NY Times article she cited

››› ››› MORGAN WEILAND

An NPR news brief and a Reuters article noted Gov. Sarah Palin's recent comment that Sen. Barack Obama has been "palling around with terrorists," a reference to his acquaintance with Bill Ayers. But neither noted that The New York Times, in the article Palin cited for her claim, reported that "the two men do not appear to have been close."

During an NPR news brief on the October 6 edition of Morning Edition, newscaster Jean Cochran reported Gov. Sarah Palin's recent comment that Sen. Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists, a reference to his acquaintance with radical Bill Ayers." Similarly, in an October 6 Reuters article, reporter Mark Egan asserted that "Palin accused Obama of 'palling around with terrorists' in reference to his acquaintance with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Vietnam War-era militant Weather Underground." While Egan reported in the Reuters article that "Obama has said he knows Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, only slightly and has denounced his actions with the Weather Underground," neither Cochran nor Egan noted that The New York Times, in the article Palin cited for her claim, reported: "[T]he two men do not appear to have been close."

Indeed, as Washington Post staff writer Michael Abramowitz noted in an October 5 article, Palin's comments are a "distortion of what the Times story concluded."

Additionally, during the NPR segment, Cochran went on to assert that Ayers "founded the Weather Underground group in the 1960s, and decades later he worked on the same charity board as Obama. Ayers also hosted a small 'meet the candidate' coffee for Obama in 1995." She did not mention that the Times article also noted that Obama has never "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.' "

Media Matters for America documented that an October 4 Associated Press article and an October 6 New York Times article also quoted Palin's comment and did not note the Times' October 4 reporting.

From the October 6 edition of NPR's Morning Edition:

COCHRAN: Republican running mate Sarah Palin made claims over the weekend that Barack Obama pals around with terrorists, a reference to his acquaintance with radical Bill Ayers. He founded the Weather Underground group in the 1960s, and decades later he worked on the same charity board as Obama. Ayers also hosted a small "meet the candidate" coffee for Obama in 1995. In response, Obama is bringing up John McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal of some 20 years ago. McCain took part in meetings with bank regulators on behalf of contributor Charles Keating, and that earned him a rebuke from the Senate ethics committee.

From the October 6 Reuters article:

With McCain losing ground in opinion polls, a campaign strategist was quoted as saying the Republican presidential candidate needed to "turn the page" on the economic issue and make the election about Obama's experience and character.

That effort started on Saturday when Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists" in reference to his acquaintance with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Vietnam War-era militant Weather Underground.

"Senator McCain and his operatives are gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance," Obama responded at a rally in Asheville, North Carolina, a swing state where he was preparing for his second debate with McCain on Tuesday.

[...]

But McCain's supporters and his campaign did not back down. They pushed the issue of Obama's character on the Sunday television talk shows and defended linking Obama with Ayers.

"The last four weeks of this election will be about whether the American people are willing to turn our economy and national security over to Barack Obama, a man with little record, questionable judgment, and ties to radical figures like unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said.

Ayers was one of the leaders of the Weather Underground when it was involved in a series of bombings in the 1960s, when Obama was 8 years old. Obama met him in the 1990s when first starting his political career in Chicago and the two served on a board together.

Obama has said he knows Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, only slightly and has denounced his actions with the Weather Underground.

Network/Outlet
Associated Press, Reuters, NPR
Person
Liz Sidoti, Jean Cochran, Mark Egan, Sarah Palin
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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