I received a second email tonight from the New York Times reporter Scott Shane regarding his story on the Obama- Ayers connection. My response comes first and then his email.
I appreciate the time you have taken today to try to clarify your reporting.
I have two basic remaining questions:
1) Recall that once before the Times reported that the Obama campaign said that they first met in late 1995 at the meet and greet. Why should we believe the Campaign now?
2) I believe I summarized the Leff quote accurately – according to her, Ayers was not present at the meeting where Leff mentioned Obama to Graham and Ayers had not suggested Obama’s name to her.
Are you telling me now that you have a quote from her that is the same as Graham’s: that Ayers was not involved at all? Or are you personally drawing the conclusion “that they entirely conceived and executed the Obama appointment”? So that their story is, literally, that Ayers showed up on March 15 at the first CAC board meeting and walked in and met the new Chair of his project’s board for the first time – a fait accompli?
I am not questioning their veracity, I only want to confirm what they told you.
I do wonder as well why if they both told you that you did not report it.
Finally, you have now twice questioned whether I have evidence of the role of Ayers. I told you about the evidence on the phone, I sent you copies of the evidence and I blogged on the evidence prior to the posting of your story. My evidence is written, it is contemporaneous with the events, it fits the facts as we know them and it is consistent with how organizations like the CAC are established and organized.
On the other hand, your evidence is based on two conversations with individuals who did not have either the legal authority or fiduciary responsibility for the selection of the board. Your evidence is 14 years after the fact.
In social science and law, written contemporaneous records are considered a more credible source than ex post recollections by only a small number of the individuals involved. I thought the same standards applied in journalism as well.
And you have not spoken on the record directly with the principals, Ayers and Obama, nor even Chapman, Hallett, Simmons or Gregorian.
I believe you owed it to the Times readers to present all the known evidence on this critical issue and you should let them and the wider voting public make up their own minds about the nature of the Obama/Ayers relationship.
On 10/4/08 7:19 PM, “Scott Shane”
Steve, Obama stated through his spokesman, Ben LaBolt, that he first met Ayers at the Annenberg project.
Also, you have another error in your latest posting. As quoted from my story below:
At a lunch with two other foundation heads, Patricia A. Graham of the Spencer Foundation and Adele Simmons of the MacArthur Foundation
As you see, contrary to your posting, I do quote Deborah Leff as saying “Ayers was not present and had not suggested Mr. Obama.” Evidently you missed that repeatedly today.
Bottom line is, Leff and Graham both say they entirely conceived and executed the Obama appointment. Obama says he first met Ayers after he was recruited by Leff and Graham.
Unless you actually find evidence to the contrary on either of those points, I think their version stands unchallenged.
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