The Daily Caller, for all its tiring politics and homophobia and gun-nuttery and careless reporting, is nothing if not spunky. The two-year-old website likes to pick fights, especially ones that require punching above their weight. That's to be expected of a young site hoping to stake its claim in a crowded media market, but a recent stunt by founder Tucker Carlson was particularly inspired. In an online auction to benefit the Illinois Humanities Council, he won a $2,500 dinner for five at the home of former Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn — and then he held a contest to bring a reader with him. Was there any chance in hell this wouldn't make for a great story?
Apparently so. Dinner was served on Sunday, and today senior editor Jamie Weinstein filed this flat report, which begins:
At an extravagant penthouse apartment in downtown Chicago, The Daily Caller dined with former terrorists Sunday night.
That’s not a sentence one often has the opportunity to write, but on Super Bowl Sunday former Weather Underground leaders and Obama friends Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn feted TheDC to an elaborate gourmet meal at the home of a very rich friend to fulfill the obligations of a charity auction won by Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson.
Note to Weinstein: If you have a great lead, leave it alone; drawing attention to it only lessens its greatness. Or maybe you should have gone with another lead entirely, as the story never lives up to it. Still, here's what we learned, plus a scorecard to make things nominally more exciting:
• Ayers and Dohrn had enlisted friends to serve dinner, "while the two principal hosts sporadically joined the table for conversation."
Ayers/Dohrn: 1, Daily Caller: 0
• At the table were cardboard cutouts of Dick Cheney, Gertrude Stein, Sen. John McCain, Sarah Palin, Henry David Thoreau and Rosa Parks, with stickers bearing famous quotes of their. On Cheney, for instance, were stickers reading “Reagan taught us deficits don’t matter” and “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”
Ayers/Dohrn: 2, Daily Caller: 0
• A copy of Carlson’s book, Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News, sat on a coffee table in the living room.
Ayers/Dohrn: 3, Daily Caller: 0
• Ayers said he finds "some unity with Ron Paul." Figures.
Ayers/Dohrn: 3, Daily Caller: 1
• Dohrn told Carlson the U.S. is "becoming 'like Sparta': strong militarily, but weak in everything else. 'It has happened to a lot of countries, including in recent history.' Asked by Tucker Carlson to name one, Dohrn cited Nazi Germany."
Ayers/Dohrn: 3, Daily Caller: 2
• Ayers refused to talk about the bombings or "avant-garde sexual habits" during his Weather Underground days.
Ayers/Dohrn: 3, Daily Caller: 3
• Ayers was "asked how he could speak so approvingly of the current president when he, Ayers, had personally launched a terrorist bombing campaign to protest Richard Nixon’s foreign interventions."
Ayers/Dohrn: 3, Daily Caller: 4
• Ayers was asked about Christopher Anderson's Barack and Michelle: Portrait of An American Marriage, which claims that Ayers contributed to Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father. "Ayers said he hadn’t heard of Andersen’s claim — but that it was 'bullshit.'”
Ayers/Dohrn: 4, Daily Caller: 4
• The menu included carrot ginger soup and quinoa with tofu.
No points awarded, because no one wins with dishes like that.
And no one wins in this bout, either. Not even the reader.