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Bill Ayers on ABC's "Good Morning America." So of course he knows Obama....Transcript

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Bill Ayers on ABC's "Good Morning America"

Transcript courtesy Federal News Service....

MR. CUOMO: William Ayers was thrust into the spotlight of this year's presidential race by his association with Barack Obama. The question at hand is just how significant that association was? Now, in a moment, Mr. Ayers will talk to us, but first, let's take a look at how this '60s radical-turned-college professor found himself at the center of a media storm.

William Ayers' name first came up during Barack Obama's primary race with Senator Clinton.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY) (From video.): Senator Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers for a period of time.

MR. CUOMO: But it was during Obama's battle with John McCain that Ayers would become a regular line of attack.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ) (From video.): His relationship with Mr. Ayers is open to question.

GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN (R-AK) (From video.): Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists.

MR. CUOMO: Ayers would become a target because of his radical past. A son of privilege, he rebelled by joining the Weather Underground, an anti-war group that bombed the Capitol, the Pentagon and police headquarters during the 1970s. Three group members, including Ayers' then-girlfriend were killed in this townhouse when one of the bombs they were making exploded, then after 9/11, Ayers was quoted as saying, he didn't regret any of the bombings and that the group didn't do enough. By then, Ayers had become a respected professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and had met a politician named Barack Obama.

SEN. MCCAIN (From video.): But as Senator Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship.

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA (From video.): Forty years ago when I was eight years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts. Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign and he will not advise me in the White House.

MR. CUOMO: So let's hear from the man himself. William Ayers joins us this morning. He's the author of many books, the one that has been re-released most recently is right there, Fugitive Days: Memoirs Of An Anti-War Activist.

Now, thank you very much for being here.

MR. AYERS: Nice to see you.

MR. CUOMO: Clearly, the matter at hand, is this relationship with Barack Obama. So let's get right to it. You did have a meaningful relationship with Barack Obama, didn't you?

MR. AYERS: I knew Barack Obama, absolutely, and I knew him probably as well as thousands of other Chicagoans and like millions and millions of other people worldwide, I wish I knew him better right now.

MR. CUOMO: But thousands of people were not asked to help start his political career in their home, right? That's an intimacy.

MR. AYERS: I was asked by the state senator to have a coffee for Barack Obama when he first ran for office and we had him in our home and I think he was probably in 20 homes that day, as far as I know, but that was the first time I really met him.

MR. CUOMO: You use the term family friend. The president-elect uses a phrase more like Bill from the neighborhood. Those two are not the same thing. Family friend signifies a relationship, doesn't it?

MR. AYERS: I think you're quoting from the after word, The Fugitive Days, right? I'm talking there about the fact that I became an issue unwittingly and unwillingly in the campaign and I decided that I didn't want to answer any of it at that moment because it was such a profoundly dishonest narrative, but I'm describing there how the blogosphere characterized the relationship. I would say, really, that we knew each other in a professional way, again, on the same level as, say, thousands of other people and I am a guy around the neighborhood, incidentally. Absolutely.

MR. CUOMO: But you understand the concern here is that it seems that there's an evasiveness here, yes, you served on boards together, but that relationship that somebody is in your home and you are introducing them to a political community that you have connections with. You're vouching for someone. There's an advocacy. There's a relationship, certainly, you must have spoken with Barack Obama about things. You must have gotten to know him before you did that.

MR. AYERS: No, actually, I didn't get to know him before I did that, but I did know him in the context of being on a board together and that relationship was public, always in a large kind of context, but you know, I don't really agree with your premise that this is worth somehow, this is worthy of really exploring because I don't buy the idea that guilt by association should be any part of our politics, and the interesting thing is as much as this was created as an issue in the campaign, it appears for most people it had no traction. It had no meaning.

So the assumption that if two people share a cup of coffee or take a bus downtown together or have a thousand other types of associations that that somehow means they share politics, outlook, policy or responsibility for one another's actions.

MR. CUOMO: But when you're measuring the content of a man's character who wants to President of the United States, certainly, information about his friendship/coffee/association with a man who has the past that you have, creating violence against the United States, you must understand how that would be a concern.

MR. AYERS: No, I don't agree with either part of that. I think that dishonest narrative is, one, to demonize me. Let's remember that what you call a violent past, that was at a time when thousands of people were being murdered by our government every month and those of us who fought to end that war were actually on the right side. So if we want to replay that history, I would reject the whole notion that demonizing me or the Weather Underground is relevant, but secondly -

MR. CUOMO: A different discussion. Violence, it's either never okay or it's sometimes okay. It's a separate philosophical discussion. The relevance here is Barack Obama was campaigning to be president. The analogy is that if John McCain had an association, somebody had a coffee for him in his house to launch his political career that was blowing up abortion clinics, but never hurt anyone; you don't think that would be relevant?

MR. AYERS: I think the content is relevant, but let's go back, again. The content of the Vietnam protest is a content where there were despicable acts going on, but the despicable acts were being carried out by our government.

I never hurt or killed anyone. I was involved in the anti-war movement. I was a militant. I was part of the militant faction of opposing the war and I've been quoted again and again as saying I don't regret it, and frankly, I don't think we did enough and I don't think we did enough, just as today, I don't think we've done enough to stop these wars and I think we must all recognize the injustice of it and do more.

MR. CUOMO: And we are going to discuss your book more in the upcoming segment, why you're releasing it now, what you want people to get out of it, but clearly, you have to understand the sensitivity. You can't say that somebody is a family friend, have them in your house trying to launch their political career and then say this is nothing because you make it sound like it's something by saying it's nothing.

MR. AYERS: No, absolutely not. What I'm saying about the guilt by association, which, as you know, has a long and tragic history in this country. What I'm saying is that every one of us actually should talk to lots and lots of people and especially our political leaders, far from being a demerit on his record, the fact that he's willing to talk to a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life, listen to a lot of opinions and still have a mind of his own is something we should honor and admire.

MR. CUOMO: But then you have to come clean about saying, and I'm one of those people. Barack Obama either sought me out or I sought him out to discuss my ideas, my radical ideas and then he made his own decision. If that's true, okay, but it can't be that end, we never discussed any of this.

MR. AYERS: It's not at all true that he sought me out to listen to my radical ideas or that I sought him out. The truth is, we came together in Chicago in the civic community around issues of school improvement, around issues of fighting for the rights of poor neighborhoods to have jobs and housing and so on, and that's the full extent of our relationship.

So this idea that we need to know more like there's some dark, hidden secret, some secret link, is just a myth and it's a myth thrown up by people who want to kind of exploit the politics of fear and I think it's a great credit to the American people that those politics were rejected, the idea that we should continue to be frightened and worried and, you know, barricaded is falling down and it should.

END.

14 Comments

ONCE AGAIN THE OLD GUILT BY ASSOCIATION GAME!
AMERICA THIS MAN DIDN'T EVEN GO TO JAIL!
HIS FATHER USE TO RUN COMMONWEALTH EDISON!
HE ATTENDED THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN!
PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA DOESN'T KNOW THIS MAN, LIKE
SOME OF YOU THINK HE DOES!
NOW CHARLES KEATING WENT TO JAIL!

My God, no meaning, no intimacy, no radical agenda between them; what part of "no" does Cuomo not understand?

Matter of fact Ayers was correct when stating there are thousands of people who know Barack Obama.

William Ayers meant intimately.

I see the same individuals riding CTA every day but don't know them. I only know they catch a bus or el train at the same time I do. Do that mean I know them personally? No? Matter of fact don't even know their name, yet we have spoken about the weather, youth of today, our sports teams and YES, EVEN POLITICS!

But we still don't know each other.

I can't believe Cuomo continued with the demonization of Ayers/Obama--he should know better. Certainly his own father has sat upon committees with people--FAR different from KNOWING them.

Could someone forward this article to Sarah Palin and all those "Repugnicans" now?

Mr. Ayers said this: "Let's remember that what you call a violent past, that was at a time when thousands of people were being murdered by our government every month and those of us who fought to end that war were actually on the right side. So if we want to replay that history, I would reject the whole notion that demonizing me or the Weather Underground is relevant"

I lost a brother in the Vietnam War, and he was not 'murdering' thousands of people every month. He was defending a sovereign nation - South Vietnam - which rejected the communist North Vietnamese government's attempts for reunification under communism. For those foolish people who feel this was an unjust war, keep in mind that the U.S. enemy was Soviet armed North Vietnam and that the war was fought entirely in South Vietnam. That to me tells the whole story - we were not pushing into the north, but repelling incursions from the North into the south. My brother's letters tell of finding underground tunnels dug by the North Vietnamese which were filled with Soviet weaponry. This notion that we were brutalizing some poor, primative farmers defending themselves with bamboo spears is just nonsense.

Mr. Ayers activities during this war were treasonous, if nothing else. What appalls me is not so much the fact that President-elect Obama associated with Mr. Ayers, but that Mr. Ayers has been allowed to teach in an American University. He is disgusting to me.

What's next for ABC, perhaps Mr. Cuomo will interview OBL so he can promote
his reasons for 911? ABC has laid insult to every 'Nam veteran in
interviewing domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. The only reason he’s not in prison for life is because our government prosecutors screwed up.

Today he spews his rhetoric as a “respected” professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and on ABC. All America should be infuriated with ABC and any institution of learning for employing this man!

Lloyd V Evans ll
USMC ‘Nam Vet
Bronx boy in NC.

Again, the media doesn't understand how this type of divisiveness fans the flames of the worst part of America's past that bring up the type of people who would hurt, bomb churches, kill people including the President of the United States. They keep things moving, they continue to drive a stake in the worst pieces of America's fabric. God forbid anything happens to our President-elect, if it does America can thank the Media for keeping things like this alive, Sarah Palin, Alan Keyes, and the list goes on. These people have nullified their relevance in American politics, the games of the past and we ain't having it anymore!

IF YOU HAD LISTENED TO CUOMO TALKING TO SEAN
HANNITY LIKE HE WAS CHECKING IN WITH HIS MENTOR,
YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY HE TOOK ON THIS ASSIGN-
MENT, HE ISN'T SMART AS AYERS, AND HIS MISSION
WAS TO DISCREDIT AYERS, AND LINK HIM TO OUR
PRESIDENT-ELECT, HE FAILED ON BOTH POINTS!
THAT'S WHY YOU NEVER SEND A BOY TO DO A MAN'S
WORK!
HANNITY TRIED HIMSELF, HE SENT ONE OF HIS BOYS
BUT THAT FAILED MISERABLY AS WELL!
FOX NEWS USES OLIVER NORTH, THE GUY FROM THE
OJ TRIAL, THEY USE ROVE, IF YOU HANG OUT WITH DOGS
YOU GET FLEAS!
THE QUESTION IS WHY DOES SEAN HANNITY PERSIST
ON CAUSING TROUBLE, WHY DOES FOX NEWS ALLOW HIM
SO MUCH ROPE TO HANG HIMSELF!
WHY WON'T HE ADMIT THAT PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA
RAN A GREAT CAMPAIGN AND COMPLIMENT HIM ON HIS
VICTORY! MAN UP SEAN!

To Lloyd Evans: I disagree.
I don't approve of Ayers' activities in the 60's; it was ignorant and terrible, and he should definitely have been sent to prison. But he wasn't a terrorist that crashed planes into buildings to intentionally kill thousands of people. He never targeted lives.

The mid-60's through the early 70’s was an angry, confusing and chaotic period that witnessed the Viet Nam War, bomb shelters, riots, radical protests, peace rallies and marches, vicious racism, and the assassinations of John, Bobby, and Martin. We didn’t experience this era through the history books and video footage; we grew up in it -- many of us honestly weren’t sure if we’d make it to 30.

A lot you posters weren't around during the Viet Nam War. The way the government lied to us was shameful. And their treatment of our brave soldiers was heartbreaking. I lost four friends to that war. A number of soldiers who didn't come home in a body bag, or lose their limbs, their eyesight or their sanity, had to deal with undiagnosed delayed stress syndrome and died of drug overdoses. We’ve lost approximately 4,200 of our courageous and loyal servicemen and women over the last five years in Iraq. In the five-year period between 1965 and 1970, the Viet Nam “conflict” took the lives of over 50,000 of them. The number of deaths of innocent Vietnamese women and children was far greater.


I protested this war, but I did so peacefully and intelligently, and I fully supported our troops as I do today. They are our unsung heroes.

It's actually pathetic that this story has any traction whatsoever. I protested the Vietnam war and was eventually drafted in '65. Welcome to the US Army son, here's how you jump out of a helicopter in a hot LZ. I too lost friends there, and while I think what the Weather Underground was doing was over the top, there were hundreds of thousands of solid Americans of all ages protesting that dumb war. We had no business being there, and we never "won" that war either but probably a hundred thousand civilians died. Now we're in Bush's war... and the non-combatant death total is fast approaching 150,000 in the civil war we induced by invading and occupying a sovereign country. What's amazing is the Iraqis never attacked us, the hijackers were mostly Saudi... so why didn't we invade Saudi Arabia? OIL.

But read the transcript of Ayer's comments after 911 and although Sean Hannity says that Ayers wanted to blow up more buildings, Ayers explained that he meant that America should have done more to protest what was going on. Here we are 40 years later and Hannity insinuates that Obama is radical and influenced by the Vietnam era Ayers (not the quiet history professor Ayers who is heralded in Chicago for his work in the community and school systems). Hannity is someone (like Rush) who selectively extracts facts and out of context statements and then salts them with lies and inuendo and calls it "news"? Give me a break.

Anyway, Obama won the election and Hannity now has to find another hero outside of Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove.

HEY DOC, I AM AWARDING YOU AN HONORARY BLOGGING
EQUIVALENT TO A DOCTORATE AWARD, GREAT BLOG, YOU
WERE RIGHT ON THE MONEY, THEY MAY HAVE TO SEND
HANNITY TO DETOX, BECAUSE HE DEDICATED TWO YEARS
TO THE OBAMA CANDIDACY, HE DOESN'T REALIZE HE
HELPED BARACK OBAMA GET ELECTED, AND FOR THAT WE
ARE GREATFUL!
SEAN HANNITY A RADIO GUY WHO IS REAL UGLY ON TV!

The Weather Underground DID target lives. They accidentally blew themselves up in that town house making bombs meant for a Fort Dix officer's dance. If they wouldn't have been so completely inept they could have killed United States officers and their civilian dates.

The Weather Underground also set off bombs outside of a judge's home and placed a bomb underneath his family's car which thanks to a neighbor was diffused. That judge was overseeing a case involving a black panther. He was doing his job and his children were completely innocent. If the Weather Underground would have been successful that entire family would be dead.

So is a road side bomber who blows themselves up and fails to take anyone else out less of a terrorist?

The Weather Underground also thought all white babies were pigs and deserved to die. Bernadine Dorhn even praised the Manson Family for killing the pigs, having dinner afterwards in their house and then sticking the fork in the dead womans stomache. Sweet lady.

These two would have been in prison if the FBI hadn't bungled the case. That is why Ayeres brags that he is "Guilty as hell and free as a bird."

What I think is very telling is that all of these "tough" questions are coming after the election when it is too late to make a difference and just in time to advertise his book. They always avoid getting into the details of what The Weather Underground did and what they tried to do. People are left imagining he was placing daisies in the barrels of guns. He was not a hippie he was a militant who proclaimed war against the "imperial monster" (USA) and was fighting side by side with Castro and the Viet Cong but from within to defeat the United States of America and usher in Communism.

Feel free to check my facts.

Obama may not have been his BFF but Ayeres is definately a terrorist.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 14, 2008 9:18 AM.

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