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At a recent book signing in Baltimore, the Washington Times online editor, Kerry Picket, approached terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers and asked a few questions. (View video of the encounter.)

Ayers, an inveterate hound dog, was not above a little flirtation with Picket, an attractive young woman. When he asked about her affiliation, she replied, “Washington Times.”

“My sympathies,” Ayers joked. He then asked, “Have you drunk the Kool-Aid over at the Times, or are you OK?”

Picket was likely too young to get the Kool-Aid reference. For the record, 30 years ago, Jim Jones induced the followers at his Maoist commune in Guyana to kill themselves by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid.

Within days of the mass deaths at Jonestown, people were joking about “Kool-Aid drinkers” – Ayers still does – indifferent to the fact that 276 children, most of them black, were killed that day. Three-year-olds don’t commit suicide.

“Have you drunk the Kool-Aid over at the Times,” Ayers clarified, “or do you have a mind of your own?” It might seem a little presumptuous for a 64-year-old guy with two earrings to challenge anyone on the question of independent thought, but Ayers’ life has been a series of such presumptions.

Appreciate Jack Cashill’s investigative moxie? Check out one of his many books, “Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture”

Picket persisted. She asked Ayers if he had sent Obama a copy of his book, the bizarrely titled and timed, “Race Course: Against White Supremacy.”

“I wouldn’t know how,” Ayers answered, probably honestly. Ayers had ceased to be useful to Obama years ago.

When Picket asked, “Have you gotten any feedback on your writings from the president?” Ayers asked rhetorically, “Why would I?”

Here Picket dropped her bombshell, “Considering that you may have had a collaboration with ‘Dreams of My Father.’”

Ayers’ body language changed abruptly. Turning away from Picket, he snarled, “I never had a collaboration, no.”

“No?” she persisted.

“That’s a myth,” said Ayers, cutting off all conversation.

Fox News picked up Picket’s video of the encounter, and it got enough play online to incite a predictable reaction from the D.C. media.

David Weigel of the Washington Independent weighed in first. “The idea that Ayers wrote Obama’s first memoir was popularized by conservative author Jack Cashill on the conspiracy site WorldNetDaily,” sneers Weigel, “one of the hubs of the discredited theory that Obama was not born in Hawaii.”

In a dishonest little gesture, Weigel linked to the posting on my website – Cashill.com – of the very first and admittedly speculative article I wrote on the subject for WorldNetDaily on Sept. 18, 2008.

Weigel has obviously been to my site, so he knows that I have since posted much more recent and comprehensive articles on the authorship of “Dreams,” all easily located on the homepage.

The evidence in these articles of Obama’s limited skills and Ayers’ involvement is irrefutable, which likely accounts for Ayers’ uncomfortable response to Picket’s question.

Having misdirected his readers, Weigel calls my work a “funny read” and attacks Andrew McCarthy of the National Review for daring to suggest that it might be credible. Weigel’s real target, however, is not me or McCarthy but the Washington Times, which he savages.

Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly picked up on Weigel’s lead and ran with it. He titles his article, “Struggling With Seriousness,” and leads with an ad hominem against “cult leader” Sun Myung Moon, the Washington Times publisher.

Benen makes the unfortunately accurate accusation that although the Times features Picket’s interview with Ayers, it shies away from the highlight of the conversation, as Benen puts it, “the conspiracy theory that he ghost-wrote President Obama’s first book, ‘Dreams From My Father.’”

“The very idea that Ayers had some role in writing the president’s first book has always been a bizarre conspiracy theory,” Benen continues, “peddled by unhinged right-wing activists during the presidential campaign.”

After reading Benen’s piece, I e-mailed him under the server message, “Unhinged right-wing activist weighs in.”

“Steve,” I wrote, “I am the originator of the ‘bizarre conspiracy theory’ that Ayers was involved in the writing of ‘Dreams From My Father.’ I can understand how such a theory may seem bizarre, but the evidence is overwhelming.”

I then sent him a link to the most recent article on my site and said, “I would welcome your fair evaluation.” I have not heard back from him.

This, of course, does not surprise me. The last thing Obama’s acolytes want to see is evidence of his fallibility.

What does surprise me and disappoint me is that I have not heard back from the Washington Times. I sent a congratulatory note to the op-ed editor, whom I know, and left a congratulatory message on Picket’s voicemail. Neither has responded.

I hope I am wrong, but my gut tells me that Picket got taken to the editorial woodshed for daring to suggest the obvious.

Throughout my investigation into the authorship of “Dreams,” the respectable conservative media in D.C. have been less than helpful.

This incident helps me understand just how deep our media problem is – on both sides.

Note: If you’re a member of the media and would like to interview Jack Cashill, e-mail WND.

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