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Saturday, November 1, 2008
Cashill Complains That Everyone's Ignoring His Conspiracy
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jack Cashill whines in a Nov. 1 WorldNetDaily column:

When historians tell the story of the 2008 election a century hence, they will tell how the ABETTO factor – A Blind Eye To The Obvious – finally undid America's once proud journalism establishment.

The following passage, one of the very few in the major media to condescend to the question of Barack Obama's altogether likely literary fraud, nicely captures the blindness.

"The bizarre accusation Jack Cashill made ... that Obama didn't write 'Dreams From My Father' (and that Bill Ayers did) has caught fire in the blogosphere and on talk radio."

So writes the proudly clueless Kirsten Powers in the only half-blind New York Post. The New York Times, at least, did not attack me. Nor did they see fit to cover the story.


What is truly "bizarre" – no, disgraceful – is that the major media are not all over this story.

Actually, no. In fact, the media seems to be acting quite responsibly in ignoring kooky conspiracy theories by a man who has a history of being proven consistently wrong -- who falsely insisted that James Kopp was innocent of killing Barnett Slepian and that Eric Rudolph was being framed for bombings at abortion clinics and the Atlanta Olympics.

Your conspiracy theory about Bill Ayers writing Obama's books is indeed "bizarre," Jack -- and you are rightly being ignored.

UPDATE: Remember when Cashill was crowing that "a British scholar of international repute" was looking into his conspiracy theory? That actually turned out to be correct. From a Nov. 2 London Times article:

Dr Peter Millican, a philosophy don at Hertford College, Oxford, has devised a computer software program that can detect when works are by the same author by comparing favourite words and phrases.

He was contacted last weekend and offered $10,000 (£6,200) to assess alleged similarities between Obama’s bestseller, Dreams from My Father, and Fugitive Days, a memoir by William Ayers.


The offer to Millican to prove that Ayers wrote Obama’s book was made by Robert Fox, a California businessman and brother-in-law of Chris Cannon, a Republican congressman from Utah. He hoped to corroborate a theory advanced by Jack Cashill, an American writer.

But that's not working out the way Cashill would like:

Millican took a preliminary look and found the charges “very implausible”. A deal was agreed for more detailed research but when Millican said the results had to be made public, even if no link to Ayers was proved, interest waned.

Millican said: “I thought it was extremely unlikely that we would get a positive result. It is the sort of thing where people make claims after seeing a few crude similarities and go overboard on them.” He said Fox gave him the impression that Cannon had got “cold feet about it being seen to be funded by the Republicans”.

UPDATE 2: Oxford's Millican writes in the London Times of his experience in getting drawn into all of this, and he takes apart Cashill's reasoning:

The trouble with these sorts of claims is that they are far too easy to make: take any two substantial memoirs from the same era and you are likely to be able to pick out a fair number of passages that have some similarities. Unless the similarities are really close (and they weren’t), just listing them makes no case at all, even if it might be enough to persuade some readers.

Cashill and friends – who were convinced but aware that more evidence would be needed to convince others – enlisted teams of analysts to try to give the theory a solid statistical basis. All of these analyses supposedly delivered positive results, but they seem badly flawed.


Oxford University Consulting, on my behalf, insisted quite properly that any such arrangement would have to be agreed before the results were known: there could be no question of carrying out an analysis that would be paid for only if the results came out in their favour. And I insisted that the analysis, once produced, would have to be in the public domain and thus made available to the Democrats also.

Having got to this stage, with texts and controls carefully prepared and special facilities added to Signature for the purpose, my little adventure into US politics ended. I was left with the impression that payment for propaganda was fine; but payment for objective research was quite a different matter.

Maybe one day I’ll go back and do the analysis in detail, but I doubt it. I would rather spend my time on serious research questions than on improbable theories proposed with negligible support.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:41 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, November 2, 2008 10:45 AM EDT

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