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Reading The Pictures: New York Times Plays The Ayers Card

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Ayers

Records of a school reform project suggest Barack Obama has played down contact with Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weathermen, but they do not seem to have been close.  -- NYT article caption

With Obama opening up a strong lead in the polls, it's hard not to feel the Times is either taking it upon itself to make the race more competitive, or adhering to some juvenile rule of parity in which each candidate gets whacked in turn, even if a front page article -- raising all kinds of long hashed-over and discredited innuendos -- ends with the conclusion there is nothing there to speak of.

Nyt-Ayers Friday afternoon's NYT.com front page features an image and article resuscitating feeble allegations -- all then discounted -- of some kind of professional, philanthropic or even political collaboration between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, the article serving little more than a re-introduction of Ayers -- and, by association, questions about Obama's character and patriotism --  into the media sphere.

If you can hold your nose long enough to read the article, you'll also notice how the author -- by way of an interview with a Chicago Tribune columnist -- also manages to reference Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright, including the '"God damn America" sermon."' (But then, given the specter of a less competitive election in comparison to the orgy the media had over Reverend Wright, why should all the election fireworks fizzle out now?

Given the power of images to create connotations well beyond the most qualified of words, the New York Times dug up this 2001 image of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn to slap on the front of the on-line edition.  (I'm more than half expecting to see it on the front of Saturday's print edition, as well.)  Besides offering you a screen grab of the digital lead, the image above is the expanded version of the pic from the article.  Not only are the former Weathermen staring down at us with self-righteous expressions, but Ayers could be seen as flipping us the bird.

I am typically a lot more high-minded in my conclusions, but frankly, this is right-wing enabling crap.

Nyt-Ayers1Update 1:  Well, whaddya know.  Here's the front page of Saturday's NYT print edition.  Check top of the fold, accompanied by a 26-year-old shot of the long hair.

Update 2: After the jump in the print edition, page A14 is full of large, accompanying images including the shot above, BA's FBI wanted poster, and two screen shots from political ads by independent fly-by-nights attempting to tie Obama to Ayers.  (Click for larger size.)

Obama and '60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths (NYT)

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(image: Todd Buchanan for the New York Times, 2001)