MSNBC's Witt did not challenge RNC official's mischaracterization of NY Times article on Obama and Ayers

MSNBC's Witt did not challenge RNC official's mischaracterization of NY Times article on Obama and Ayers

››› ››› MORGAN WEILAND

On MSNBC Live, RNC press secretary Alex Conant claimed that "The New York Times today has a 2,000-word story about Barack Obama's friendship with an unrepentant terrorist." However, Alex Witt did not challenge Conant's claim that the article was about their "friendship" by pointing out that the Times in fact reported that Obama and Ayers "do not appear to have been close."

On the October 4 edition of MSNBC Live, Republican National Committee press secretary Alex Conant claimed that "The New York Times today has a 2,000-word story about Barack Obama's friendship with an unrepentant terrorist," referring to a front-page article about Obama's association with former Weather Underground member William Ayers. However, anchor Alex Witt did not challenge Conant's claim that the article was about their "friendship" by pointing out that the Times in fact reported that Obama and Ayers "do not appear to have been close." Nor did Witt note that Obama has condemned Ayers' actions.

In the article, the Times reported that in 1969, Ayers helped found the Weathermen and "[t]wenty-six years later, at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper, Barack Obama met Mr. Ayers, by then an education professor. Their paths have crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama's first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors."

The Times further 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.' "

From the 10 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on October 4:

WITT: What about what we hear from The Washington Post today? Because according to an article there, the McCain campaign is preparing a new, aggressive approach on Senator Obama, including some attacks on his judgment, his honesty, and his character. Does that mean the campaign hasn't been tough enough thus far?

CONANT: Well, I think that while you and I have been following every up and down in this race for the last year, a lot of voters are just starting to tune in right now. We got a month to go. The New York Times today has a 2,000-word story about Barack Obama's friendship with an unrepentant terrorist. Barack Obama voted to raise taxes on people making as little as $42,000 a year. I don't think a lot of voters know that. That's what we want to be talking about. That's what people need to know more about over the next month.

WITT: OK. Let's talk about some of the strategy right now, Alex, because we know that Senator McCain is pulling his staff, his advertising out of the battleground state of Michigan. Is that because he can't afford to compete there financially? And can he afford to lose that state's 17 Electoral College votes?

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
MSNBC, The New York Times
Person
Alex Witt
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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