[Editor’s Note: Since John Batchelor’s “Obama’s Plumbers” article appeared on Friday, Steve Diamond — who is referred to in the article, and whose blog reported extensively and over many months on the Ayers-Obama connection — has complained that Batchelor incorrectly — even improperly — referred to him and his reporting on the effort to block public access to documents that may reveal the depth of that relationship. Since then, Diamond has apparently changed his blog but – because most of it is still publicly available through Google – the original forms can be seen here in large part. We asked Batchelor to respond to Diamond’s allegations.]
1. On Sunday 7 September at 2:22 AM EDT, Steve Diamond emailed me his latest posting on his Global Labor and Politics blog, “Carl Davidson and Progressives for Obama v. Google.” At 2:51 AM EDT Steve Diamond wrote me, “Did not hear back from you, would be happy to get an update.” I was just finishing my work on air and did not respond. Steve Diamond had been a guest on my show twice since spring, most recently in August, to comment on Steve Diamond’s explanations of Barack Obama and Mr. Obama’s unusual political associations in Chicago, especially with the unrepentant terrorist and professor of education at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Bill Ayers and Ayers’ family which includes wife Bernarding Dohrn.]
2. On Monday September 8 at 1:50 PM EDT I replied to Steve Diamond. I pointed especially to the investigations ongoing with regard the August flap over the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (“CAC”) documents at the University of Illinois library in Chicago, when NRO Stanley Kurtz was blocked from access to the papers for several weeks. “You are well ahead of Kurtz to explicate the chronology and induce from the FOIA clue.” I also added, “Human Events Editor Jed Babbin asks me to write a summary of Ayers so far: which must feature the Woods and the Annenberg.” I wrote, “I ask to speak with you today, later today, about fifteen minutes, re how you want your material read by the GOP audience on Human Events…”
3. On Tuesday September 9, at 2:22 PM EDT, Steve Diamond sent me his new posting that same day on Ayers and Obama and CAC: “Annenberg Gate Update: Did University Warn Obama/Ayers Ally of National Review Inquiry?” In this post, Steve Diamond included the discovery that Stanley Kurtz made his initial request for the CAC documents on August 11. Steve Diamond also updated that day his posting of September 7, “Updated Annenberg-Gate: University tipped off Ayers/Obama All on Records Release,” in which Steve Diamond included details of the FOIA discovery of the correspondence between former CAC executive director Ken Rolling and University of Illinois officials that suggested unusual decisions.
4. In response to these statements about Ayers, Obama and the CAC, on Tuesday September 9 at 343 pm, I emailed Steve Diamond, “Can you speak now on the phone?” At 3:47 PM EDT Steve Diamond replied, “Very briefly,” and gave me a phone number.” I called at 3:49 PM and we spoke for 10:41 minutes.
5. In the course of this telephone conversation, Steve Diamond restated all the critical points that he had explicated in his most recent postings about Ayers and his associates working to conceal the facts of the true nature of the Ayers relationship with Obama by blocking access to the CAC documents, 1995-2001. Steve Diamond also spoke of what he described as a “plumbers” unit in the Obama camp that is led by Ayers and that is tasked to plug the leaks about the CAC years. He mentioned other names involved in the leak-plugging and the corresponding cover-up, some of them well known names. Steve Diamond made many more remarks about pressure he believed he was under because of his postings on the CAC since June 18, 2008. He mentioned one particular pressure point that worried him, and he was detailed as to who had passed on not benign advice to him to curtail postings and why. Steve Diamond mentioned prominent political names and camps, none of them Republican. With regard CAC, Steve Diamond speculated that laws may have been violated with regard the spontaneous restrictions at the University of Illinois library. He remarked about gifts to libraries, public documents, and the responsibilities of Illinois state officials. After ten minutes, I stopped questioning him. Steve Diamond said he had to prepare for a class. Steve Diamond agreed to speak again later in the evening, at 10 PM EDT, in order to confirm details.
6. That evening, Tuesday September 8, at 7:41 PM EDT, Steve Diamond emailed me a peculiar collection of statements. “Once again after careful thought I come inevitably to the conclusion that there is little more I can contribute beyond what is on my blog. Of course you are free to quote from it but I do not want to be interviewed by Human Events. Thanks you for your interest in my work.” I puzzled. This made no sense, since we had already spoken, and he already had told me everything I needed. I wrote back, “You have already clarified much. Additional conversation is only to offer you a courtesy to confirm. Your choice not to wish confirmation.”
7. There was one additional exchange Tuesday evening, when I wrote Steve Diamond at 7:55 PM ET: “It is helpful to my tale to clarify your concerns. 1. Do you discern that you are the object of special attention by the Obama campaign? 2. Is this attention harmless?” I wanted to know how exposed he felt. Steve Diamond replied, “No I don’t think so but possibly, and no.” I studied this reply and decided Steve Diamond felt under significant pressure. He had told me the group he believed that was involved, and if accurate, he had cause to worry.
8. On Wednesday September 10, Steve Diamond posted, ”Obama/Ayers/Annenberg Update: The NY Times finally mentions the A-Word.” In this post, Steve Diamond wrote what he had told me the previous day about the schemes of the Ayers directed group to conceal the facts of the CAC from investigators such as Stanley Kurtz at NRO and Steve Diamond himself. Significantly he used the words “Plumber,” and “Plumbers,” in a driving, illustrative fashion, just as he had with me the day before on the telephone. He named Ken Rolling as “the lead Plumber.” He even added a hotlink for the word “Plumber” to the Wikipedia entry.
9. The sections in the September 10 posting that are most telling are inside parentheses: “(By the way, how about that Ken Rolling – he was at the Woods Fund that helped finance Obama’s position at the DCP in the mid-80s and later funneled the DCP money in the 87-88 school wars, then was recruited by Ayers and Obama to join them running the CAC and most recently has been the lead Plumber trying to prevent public access to CAC records held at the University of Illinois. None of this is yet on the record, though, at the Times. (UPDATE on the Plumbers: Now that Brown University’s Annenberg Institute has announced that its CAC archives are being made available, I wrote to them again and asked them to respond to information requests that they ignored this past summer for 1) copies of the 1995 board minutes of the CAC – the period when the Challenge got off the ground – and 2) for confirmation whether or not Mayor Daley himself had applied for a Challenge grant in competition with Ayers and co. (Those two requests were made this past June AFTER I began blogging on the CAC with information from records that Brown had previously readily and politely provided. But this follow-up was met with stony silence. Now Brown is telling me the archives have always been open, despite the fact that their press release indicates the contrary. And no word yet on why they ignored my follow up requests. They do state, however, that no one has been in contact from the now-dissolved CAC about blocking open access. Well, Plumbers can be expensive so perhaps it was a do-it-yourself job. I will keep readers posted.)”
10. I note that all of the above quoted passage has now been deleted by Steve Diamond from his Global Labor and Politics blog.
11. Writing my HE piece during Thursday, September 11, I corresponded with Steve Diamond several more times for clarification. In response to my question about the O’Reilly interview of Obama that was aired on Tuesday September 9, in which the subject of Bill Ayers was a momentary question, Steve Diamond responded, “I believe Ayers (sic) only said he has not seen him. He did not say he has not spoken with him or emailed him or texted him and of course that means he saw him at about the time he was announcing for president — why and how stupid is that..” Steve Diamond also remarked about the O’Reilly-Obama dialogue, “Obama was not as awful as I thought he would be and I do not think O’Reilly knew how to ask the right questions. He could have nailed him on Ayers and did not…”
12. The evening before the HE piece was posted, Thursday September 11 running onto early morning September 12, Steve Diamond wrote me to complain, “I told you I would not speak with Human Events. You have quotes in your story of things I never said. I don’t understand what you are doing but I would like the story pulled and edited immediately. You only have and had permission, as does anyone else, to quote explicitly from Global Labor…”
13. With regard the “Plumbers”, Steve Diamond told me in his emails of late Thursday 11 and early Friday 12, “I do not know or believe there is anything like an actual Plumbers Unit in the campaign. I was blogging on that tongue in cheek. I can only speculate since I do not have the facts. For you to rely on my blog for anything else is incorrect.”
14. My response that night to Steve Diamond was to remind him that he had spoken on all of these matters to me on September 9, including the word “Plumbers,” and including his explanation of what the Plumbers were in Richard Nixon’s administration — the day before he posted the same information on September 10. I reminded him that I was quoting exactly what he had told me about the Ayers and the “Plumbers.” I told him there was nothing “tongue in cheek” about naming Ken Rolling as “the lead Plumber.” I told him that my piece did not rely upon his remarks to me or on his postings to confirm the cover-up of the CAC documents by Ayers and others. I reminded him that I had another and far more knowledgeable source than Steve Diamond.
15. Steve Diamond posted a lengthy note to his Global Labor and Politics blog soon after that made several incorrect and unsubstantiated assertions about our communications. Steve Diamond’s most obviously false assertion was that I had not interviewed him. The documented record on this point speaks for itself.
16. There was a clue as to why Steve Diamond was acting peculiarly and with intolerance. Steve Diamond wrote to me on the night of 11/12: “Frankly, I do not want to be associated with the troglodyte politics of the far right, even when we might agree on a narrow issue such as the public’s right of access to public documents. Human Events, the home of intellectual giants like Robert Novak and Anne Coulter, is about as troglodyte as one gets in American politics. Perhaps it is their narrow and reactionary view of the world that makes it so hard for them to understand the role of people like Bill Ayers in American politics and to have to turn to the left to understand what is going on around them.”
17. Early in the morning of September 12, Steve Diamond locked up his Global Labor and Politic blog. Later in the morning Steve Diamond called Jed Babbin, editor of HE, to voice the same undocumented complaints listed above. I know Jed Babbin was firm in his reply that HE stands by the piece and the documentation of the piece. In the mid-afternoon of September 12, Steve Diamond reopened his Global Labor and Politics blog. It is disappointing to report that Steve Diamond has now excised from his September 10 posting the paragraphs quoted above about “Plumber” and “Plumbers.”
18. It is puzzling that a blogger would think that by wiping out the passages at issue that he would be aiding his case. Apparently Steve Diamond does not know what a screenshot is. Through the weekend, I am told, Steve Diamond has continued to try to alter the record in trivial ways.