Last week, we detailed the lack of substance in WorldNetDaily reporter Aaron Klein's desperate guilt-by-association smear of Vartan Gregorian, a member of President Obama's Commission on White House Fellowships who in Klein's fevered mind is an Islamic extremist who is "closely tied to the Muslim leaders behind a proposed controversial Islamic cultural center to be built near the site of the 9/11 attacks" -- never mind that Gregorian is a universally respected scholar who formerly headed the New York Public Library and Brown University and who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush.
Any further attacks on Gregorian can only get more lame from there, and darn if Klein doesn't prove it.
Klein trotted out his latest guilt-by-association smear in a June 27 WND article: "Gregorian served on the selection committee of the Annenberg Foundation, which funded Ayers' Chicago Annenberg Challenge with a $49.2 million, 2-to-1 matching challenge grant over five years."
That's it. That's the substance of it.
But that statement appeared in the fifth paragraph of Klein's article. Because Klein isn't satisfied by substance, what you read before you come across that statement is inaccurate and unsubstantiated innuendo:
A scholar and charity head appointed to President Obama's White House Fellowships Commission served as a point man in granting $49.2 million in startup capital to an education-reform project founded by Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers and chaired by Obama.
Documentation shows the White House fellow, Vartan Gregorian, was central in Ayers' recruitment of Obama to serve as the first chairman of the project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge -- a job in which Obama worked closely on a regular basis with Ayers.
Obama also later touted his job at the project as qualifying him to run for public office, as WND previously reported.
The main claim Klein makes -- that Ayers recruited Obama to head the CAC -- is unsubstantiated. As we pointed out when Klein made the same claim in his Obama-bashing book, The New York Times reported that, "according to several people involved," Ayers "played no role" in choosing Obama. Klein offers no evidence to contradict that claim.
Because that central claim is dubious, Klein's secondary claim -- that Gregorian was "central" to Obama being appointed to the CAC -- is even more dubious. Klein's evidence here is a letter in which Gregorian, as head of Annenberg's selection committee, asked Ayers to "compose the governing board" of the Challenge's collaborative project with "people who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of Chicago." As a result, Klein wrote, "Ayers and other founding Challenge members then recruited Obama to serve as the project chairman." But Klein offers no evidence that Obama was specifically mentioned by Gregorian, nor does he offer evidence that the CAC was specifically looking for a black man or other minority to lead it.
Which brings us to where it gets really dumb. The underlying implication of Klein's article is that Obama appointed Gregorian to the board of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships in gratitude for Gregorian funding the CAC and, thus, helping to pad Obama's resume. This implication was made explicit in the front-page promo for Klein's article, which asked, "Ayers-Obama link: Is this the payoff?"
Because nothing screams "payoff" more than an appointment to a minor government board.
If this is Klein's idea of a "payoff," what does he think President Bush awarding Gregorian the Presidential Medal of Freedom is? We don't know, because Klein has curiously omitted mentioning that Gregorian has received it.
Oh, and Klein pads out his article by repeating the lame and baseless smears of his original attack on Gregorian, thus compounding the lameness.
(Cross-posted at Media Matters.)