Patterico's Pontifications


The Obama-Ayers Connection At The Chicago Annenberg Challenge Comes Into A Little Better Focus — In Spite Of The Efforts Of The Obama Campaign To Obscure It

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — WLS @ 6:44 am

[Posted by WLS]

Two weeks ago today I posted here on the New York Times story that actually mentioned Obama, William Ayers, and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) as part of a longer piece looking into the formulation of Obama’s views on education policy. 

As I noted, it wasn’t until the 22nd paragraph of this article that the name “William Ayers” flowed from the word processor of the New York Times‘s “education” reporter, Sam Dillon.  Even then, it was not much more than a passing reference, which seemed odd given the emerging controversy about efforts made by unknown individuals to block investigation into the documents of the CAC which were being sought from the library of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where they were housed.

Today we know a little more about the background on this New York Times story, and how the Obama campaign was working behind the scenes with this “friendly reporter” to put distance between Obama and Ayers with respect to the CAC.

It just so happens that as a matter of fortuitous luck (Obama’s camp may disagree with that characterization) that a particularly enlightening e-mail was produced to Stanley Kurtz at National Review in response to a FOIA request he filed with UIC.  Kurtz writes about this email here.

First, a very short recap:

CAC was a project in the Chicago school system funded with a grant of $50 million from the Annenberg Foundation in 1995.  William Ayers, unrepentant terrorist and former member of the Weather Underground, was the driving force in securing the grant in 1995, and was one of 3 founders of the CAC.  After the CAC was created, Obama, then a third-year associate at a small Chicago civil rights law firm, was named as the Chairman of the CAC Board, which oversaw the fiscal side of the CAC (it decided how the grant money would be spent, as well as having the responsibility for raising matching funds from other charitable foundations).

Ayers and the other two CAC founders, Warren Chapman and Anne Hallett, operated a second part of the CAC: the “Collaborative” that assisted in the preparation of foundation guidelines and working with community organizations in the drafting of funding proposals to be presented to the Board.  This operation involved educational theory, as the proposals funded by the CAC were supposed to improve individual Chicago area schools by matching individual schools with third-party groups who would receive funding from CAC to operate programs in support of the schools.

Among other things, the controversy about Ayers’s role in the CAC is the fact that he is an outspoken advocate and author on the subject of teaching principles of “social justice” beginning in grade school, and continuing up through high school graduation.  “Social Justice” is nothing more than a value system that believes in the inherent racist and imperialist nature of the United States from the time of its founding as a nation where slavery was legal, right up to today.  Ayers is a self-professed little-“c” communist, who only disassociates himself from the failed Soviet state, and not the political theory behind communism itself.  Basically, he wants to begin indoctrinating grade schoolers in his extreme left-wing ideology, so they will all grow up believing capitalism is evil — which makes turning them into communists in college that much easier.

Stanley Kurtz is looking carefully through the documentary history of the CAC — documents that were originally denied to him by the UIC at the request of their “donor.”  Who was that donor?  A gentleman by the name of Ken Rolling.  And that’s where the e-mail story gets interesting. 

In early August Kurtz was working through the UIC library to arrange to look at the CAC documents.  Everything was quite ordinary, and on August 11, Kurtz was given a date and time when he could begin his review.  On August 13, as he was preparing to leave for Chicago, he received a telephone call from the library telling him that the documents were suddenly unavailable due to a request by the “donor” to close them to public access.  As reported in the Chicago Tribune, Rolling says he was the “donor” who called UIC to close off the collection.

The university initially said it temporarily blocked that request in order to do an inquiry into the circumstances of the gift of the records.  But e-mails released in response to a law student’s Freedom of Information Act request show university officials had a series of exchanges with Kenneth Rolling, the charity’s former executive director, days before the files of the charity were opened to the public.

As it turns out, Rolling called UIC and asked that the documents not be released on the same day that Kurtz called to inquire of UIC about having an opportunity to look at them.  Rolling’s version of events is that he coincidentally called UIC the same day as Kurtz.

Yeah, right.  

So, how did Rolling know about Kurtz’s request?  Well, that’s where a certain e-mail becomes interesting.  As it turns out, one of the 3 original CAC founders, Warren Chapman, happens to be the current UIC vice chancellor for external affairs.  It’s by virtue of this fact that another of Rolling’s e-mails came into the public arena.  On August 12, the day after Kurtz’s request to see the CAC documents, and the day after Rolling moved to block his access to them, Rolling sent an e-mail to Chapman and Alice Hallett, the other CAC founders in addition to Ayers.  The text of Rolling’s e-mail was produced in the FOIA request to UIC, since it was sent to a UIC administrator.  Kurtz reprints it in his article:

Anne and Warren:

I gave your contact info to Sam Dillon, Education Reporter for the NYTimes who is doing a story on McCain vs. Obama’s education platform (McCain has a one-pager; Obama has a 17 page, 10-point platform). Dillon was sent to me from the Obama campaign to discuss Barack’s role in the Annenberg Challenge. – I have spent at least 4 hours in interviews with Sam Dillon who is trying to understand everything he can about the Challenge to see where Barack’s experience with it influenced his education reform views or where Barack had influence on education policy and/or practice during those years. Sam is pretty thorough in his questions and one question or response leads to many other things he is interested in learning about the Challenge. – The Challenge is just one phase of Barack’s ‘education interests’ that Dillon is exploring. He’s also trying to learn about Barack’s community organizing days and how education reform was part of them.

Sam would like to talk with either or both of your to understand how the “ad hoc group” you two and Bill Ayers lead [sic], aarived [sic] at the structure of the founding board and the Collaborative. He is trying to understand how Barack got “picked” for the CAC board, by whom, why, etc. – I have avoided that question head-on though I believe Barack was Debbie Leff’s/Joyce nomination.

I think the article will be friendly and is truly looking to see the influences on or by Barack re: education/school reform in Chicago, ete. [sic]

Let me know if you talk to Dillon?All the best.


That’s the same Sam Dillon who wrote the New York Times article about Obama and the CAC that barely mentions any connection by Obama to Ayers.

This e-mail goes to Chapman and Hallet one day after Kurtz is first told he can review the records by UIC, and one day before UIC reverses themselves at the request of Rolling. 

Notice how in the e-mail Rolling refers to how Obama was “picked” — and he puts the word in quotes?   That generally means the word is being used as a euphemism for something else.

I was also struck by the fact that Rolling didn’t bother to direct Dillon to Ayers along with Chapman and Hallett.  Why not? 

I was struck, also, by the fact that Rolling put out there the “talking point” about how Obama came to be Chairman — that it was Debbie Leff of the Joyce Foundation.  “Stick with the script and we’ll all be fine.” 

It also seems like this sentence: “Sam is pretty thorough in his questions and one question or response leads to many other things…”   was a clear warning to them to be careful what they say. 

So, Rolling is the go-to man for the Obama campaign when they are trying to feed favorable information to a New York Times reporter to spin away the CAC connection between Obama and Ayers, and it just so happens that Rolling gets quite aggressive with UIC in trying to block Kurtz’s access to the CAC records, and maybe even take back possession of them completely.

How can one not conclude that the Obama campaign was not aware of and sanctioned Rolling’s efforts on Obama’s behalf with respect to getting UIC to initially block Kurtz or anyone else from seeing the records?   At the same time they used a friendly New York Times reporter to get their version of events involving CAC into the public record.


28 Responses to “The Obama-Ayers Connection At The Chicago Annenberg Challenge Comes Into A Little Better Focus — In Spite Of The Efforts Of The Obama Campaign To Obscure It”

  1. How incredibly racist, WLS. 😉

    JD (41e64f)

  2. When are you going to do a responsible, nonpartisan post on Sarah Palin’s refusal to answer charges regarding her Troopergate scandal? Especially after she said she was ready to cooperate with the law in getting the truth out. Only to change her mind once she was nominated for VP. What has she got to hide? When are you going to start being a little bit more credible?

    love2008 (1b037c)

  3. Business as usual for the “travellers”. Barack is using a technique encouraged by Islam “Takiya”. And, this has nothing to do with Obama!!! It is just such a “great” word that encapsulates the lying that has run rampant on the Left lo these many, many years. So far, they have gotten away with it but hopefully with the Internet things will begin to change…more people than ever are aware of the lies promulgated without conscience or thoughts of decency towards anyone or anything. For the Left it is “winning at all costs”!! Welcome to the Obama Future if he is elected.

    Sue (4d3ef7)

  4. I was wondering when the Chapman link between Rolling and UIC would be published. Also, I found an audio clip of Anne Hallett on NPR discussing a program to develop teachers for urban schools from people “connecting” them with community organizations. Interesting (to me) part at 5:28 where the nexus between organizations and the program come up.

    What organizations? Probably ACORN and the like.

    Also the only trace of any “Ken Rolling” was a new-looking web site for a web-based business system. He has no finger prints anywhere.

    Dale (ecbccf)

  5. So the NYSlimes not only won’t print the truth about ‘the one’ that go as far as to lie to protect him. I wonder why the NYSlimes has fallen into the gutter and are soon to be screaming for a bailout.

    love2008, Forget the ‘madeup’ troopergate. There is a process in Alaska which goes through the legal system unlike in the few elitest (aka stupid) liberal states in the lower 48 which are all politics all the time with no legal process known to a democrat. No go slither back under your moss covered rock.

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  6. Uh, guys, this is about the least effective time in U.S. history to criticize a Democrat politician for his socialist leanings. What with the Republican president and nominee driving through a $700 Billion welfare project and all.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  7. Love 20008 – “Especially after she said she was ready to cooperate with the law in getting the truth out. Only to change her mind once she was nominated for VP.”

    Wasn’t her commitment prior to the local state reps promising an “October Surprise?” When her commitment was made to the people of Alaska, whe knew it would get a fair local hearing. But there is more at stake now. So what are you accusing her of? Refusing to cooperate with her own dismatling by a biased panel? Why should she?

    Oh, and who is charged with personnel matters? The personnel board she appointed. Since both sides are obviously corrupted by self-interest, wait til after the election.

    Dale (ecbccf)

  8. McCain shows leadership on the financial crisis. Hussein O votes ‘I’m not there’, until ‘ordered back to D.C. by the POTUS. If there isn’t money Hussein can steal he’s absent from the scene. Someone tell me again how a ‘street organizer’ became a multi-millionaire. Oh well, when there is $150 million in taxpayer money floating around in Chigago someone had to steal part or all of it. The only thing remaining of the $150 million is a $300 (actual cost $100,000 with Hussein in charge) Gazebo in a vacant lot.

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  9. Will ‘the one’ return the $126,000+ he has taken as bribes for votes from the criminals in Fannie and Freddie in the past three years?

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  10. When are you going to do a responsible, nonpartisan post on Sarah Palin’s

    When are you going to stop attempting to hijack the thread on every post? Either stay on topic, or keep your fingers off your keyboard.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  11. Mr. Dillon is nothing more than a shill for Obama, and is known as a “friendly” writer to the former CAC board members. Indeed.

    Looks like a pig, smells like a pig…….Obama/Ayers/Dohrn/CAC board/UIC all pigs in a poke.

    As the the saying goes, “Don’t buy a pig in a poke.” Don’t buy a collection of them either.

    Don Bistrow (653480)

  12. 8 scrapiron-
    that $300 gazebo that cost $100k might make an entertaining campaign ad. Why is it that no one in law enforement or IRS has followed the $150 mil CAC money train? Speaking of housing excess, how did little cojones obama get so rich so quickly? But, but, but as the idiot bastard savant troll might ask, how come McCain has 13 motor vehicles and Obama merely one? And seven homes. God forbid. Cindy is a successful capitalist? Why is miss baracky campaigning for years, thus negelcting her two young daughters? Are is there a double standard whereby Mr. Palin can’t oversee his own brood alone, but michelle can?

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

  13. love 2008 — I’ll do one today. And I’ll be as straight-forward as I can.

    WLS (c1b09d)

  14. Coincidence that both of our regular visitors from the other side posted comments that boil down to “Move on”? (Or is that ‘MoveOn dot something’?)

    Icy Truth (3a3033)

  15. Obama’s connection to Ayres while they collaborated at CAC isn’t the only part of Obama’s life he’s working hard to obscure.

    Obama has never been forthright about the time he spent in NY, first at Columbia, then working in the City for 2years. His books tell tall tales designed to cover his tracks and project a self-serving narrative.

    We know Obama left Occidental College in Los Aangeles in August of ’81 and moved to NYC. Obama got his BA from Columbia in PolySci and International Relations, in ’83. However, Obama refuses to release his transcripts, and declines to identify any friends or talk about his time there, other that to say he wanted to find a way to make himself useful.

    How Obama spent the two years following graduation is rather vague and at odds with the recollections of co-workers. In fact, it was in October of ’07 the NY Times published an article by Janny Scott under the headline, “Obama’s Account of New York Differs From What Others Say.”

    The following is from the NYT article. “Some say he has taken some literary license in the telling of his story. Dan Armstrong, who worked with Mr. Obama at Business International Corporation in New York in 1984 and has deconstructed Mr. Obama’s account of the job on his blog,, wrote: “All of Barack’s embellishment serves a larger narrative purpose: to retell the story of the Christ’s temptation. The young, idealistic, would-be community organizer gets a nice suit, joins a consulting house, starts hanging out with investment bankers, and barely escapes moving into the big mansion with the white folks.”

    One possible explaination for Obama’s reluctance to discuss his time in NYC is that Bill Ayres was also in the City and at Columbia, ’84 to ’87, and overlapped part of the time Obama was working in NY.

    Ayres and Obama shared an interest in “community organizing” and well may have met during the time both were living in the City.

    Some reporter covering the election should ask Obama when he first met Bill Ayres, and then ask Ayres when he first met Obama.

    Ropelight (f4b89a)

  16. Patterico: Subject; “Fact Check.Com”

    There is ample evidence that FactCheck is in the bag for Obama via the Annenberg Foundation. Last year, FactCheck’s primary funding source was the Annenberg Foundation. The same “Annenberg” that is part of the the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC). It doe not take much “Googling” to connect the doubts. It’s no wonder that their facts do not pass the stink test.

    C. Norris (c6eb3c)

  17. “connect the doubts” — I like it!

    Icy Truth (3a3033)

  18. Some reporter covering the election should ask Obama when he first met Bill Ayres, and then ask Ayres when he first met Obama.

    Exactly. But I suspect the umms, ahhs and hmmms would continue on forever.

    PC14 (ec0516)

  19. Is there a FactCheckCheck blog, yet? Somebody, snap to it!

    Dan Collins (57d0a9)

  20. Bill Ayers scum of the earth lower then a worm nasty as ever he would give lessions on nastieness to CAPTIAN HOOK

    Krazy Kagu (cb0b17)

  21. I found the comments in the below just as valuable as the blog post. It reminded me of how Kerry made his young JO duties aboard his ship (before he went river patrol) sound like he was the MPA or XO:

    jim2 (a9ab88)


    …the “Cooperative” that assisted in the preparation of foundation guidelines…

    That should be “Collaborative” not “Cooperative.

    Ayers’ Chicago School Reform Collaborative was not just the working arm of CAC, Ayers’ & Hallett did the initial solicitation of funds from the Annenberg Foundation for the Chicago Challenge.

    Collaborations/alliances/partnerships are real watchwords in education — and in the Democratic Platform as well.

    JM Hanes (1e4084)

  23. There is still a big question mark of if Obama met Ayers in NYC.

    Obama was going to Columbia at the same time Ayers was going to Banks College only 4 blocks away.

    The years Obama attended Columbia and worked in NYC are mostly a blank slate and nobody can seem to find traces of what was going on for all those years and even worse few seem interested in looking.

    daytrader (ea6549)

  24. Well, they couldn’t say “Collective”, that’d give the game away…

    mojo (2303c8)

  25. Suppression of information. Intimidation. Given the amount of threats that the Obama campaign is making to TV/Radio stations airing criticisms of Obama, it is pretty clear that we would see a substantial destruction of freedom of speech in an Obama administration.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  26. Have you ever wondered how much support senator Barack Obama’s “grassroots organization has recieved” from outside the USA?
    If not, this; should start you wondering. If it was happening in the primary, you can bet efforts have only increased!

    It’s not only a “world economy”, now the world gets to help us pick our leaders using the net. How much cash has Obama raised online? Oh I forgot, it all came from “grassroots America”, right? Has anyone seen this in any media outlet? Bet if “they” were helping to elect John Doe politican, there’d be 24/7 coverage, even on Nick @ night!

    josh (5bfe08)


    Krazy Kagu (8c2752)

  28. First Obama claims that over a TWENTY YEAR period, he never heard a single anti-American racist sermon from Jeremiah Wright … never noticed the anti-American racist literature in the church’s lobby … never agreed to the ‘Black Values System’ that all the church members swore to … never subscribed to the Marxist ‘Black Separation Theology’ espoused on the church’s website … never knew anti-American racist Louis Farrakhan, who the church awarded a life time achievement award to … and, never knew unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, when Obama launched his campaign from Ayer’s living room, sat on a board together, and whose wives worked at the same law firm
    . Obama also worked with Acorn, who has been caught in massive voter fraud, in behalf of Obama. Obama obviously shares an anti-American racist, and criminal philosophy with some very unsavory people, continues to lie about it, and does not have the character, or integrity to be President of the United States of America !!!

    HOWARD (f14f31)

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