Fox News says it won't air an ad connecting Barack Obama to a 1960s radical William Ayers. The ad was produced by American Issues Project which happens to have a board member who was paid as a McCain consultant until July 2007. Thanks to its nonprofit status, AIP can spend an unlimited amount of money. Election experts worry that the ad is illegal because it advocates a candidate, which cannot be done with nonprofit funds. Fox News did accidentally air a portion of the ad, but even a nominal rejection signals that ads like these are starting to raise eyebrows.
Ayers is a college professor and former member of the Weather Underground, a radical organization that wanted to end the Vietnam War through acts of domestic terrorism. He served with Obama on a board until 2002, and also held a campaign event for Obama when he first decided to enter politics in the 1990s. The American Issues Project ad hits Obama hard saying:
Obama's political career was launched in Ayers's home. And the two served together on a left-wing board. Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?
Obama hasn't backed away from the Ayers issue. To find out what he says about Ayers, and to see the ad itself,
Obama has painted the connection as innocent, saying the following:
Mr. Ayers is a 60-plus-year-old individual who lives in my neighborhood, who did something that I deplore 40 years ago when I was 6 or 7 years old. By the time I met him, he was a professor of education at the University of Illinois. We served on a board together that had Republicans, bankers, lawyers, focused on education.
While it's important for voters to have crucial information about the candidates and their policies, advertisements by somewhat rogue groups definitely toughens the task of sorting out truth from smears. What do you think of the ad?