Bill Ayers: My dinner with Andrew Breitbart and Tucker Carlson

March 15, 2012

At the end of last year, through a series of interesting events, Weather Underground co-founder Dr. William Ayers found himself in a strange position: hosting dinner, in his house, for conservative commentators Andrew Breitbart and Tucker Carlson, as well as several other right-wingers. (You can hear Breitbart's thoughts on the dinner here as well).

The story of that night is a tale of politics, intrigue and how far apart people can be, even when they're sitting in the same room. Ayers says that night he learned that "life, short or long, always ends in the middle of things." 

Read an excerpt, or listen below:

In December 2011, a tiny, but wondrous program of the Illinois Humanities Council launched an online auction to raise needed cash for it's public programming. The public square was celebrating its 10th anniversary, and [my wife] Bernadine and I had been on its advisory board from the start. We kicked in what money we could, and we donated two items to the auction: choice seats at a Cubs game and an afternoon at beautiful Wrigley Field with Bernadine, an ardent and unruly fan, and dinner for six, cooked by us. 

We've done this dinner thing two dozen times over the years, for a local baseball camp, an alumni association, alternative spring break, immigrant rights organizing, and we've typically raised a few hundred dollars. There were many more attractive items on this list: Alex Kotlowitz was available to edit 20 pages of a non-fiction manuscript; Gordon Quinn, to discuss documentary film projects over dinner; and Kevin Coval, to write and spit an original poem for the highest bidder.

We paid little attention as the auction launched and then inched onward; $100 to $200, then three. Even when a right-wing blogger picked it up and began flogging the Illinois Humanities Council for "supporting terrorism" by giving taxpayer money and service to us, he was a little off on the concept, because we were actually donating money and service to them, but this was a rather typical turn for the fact-free, faith-based blogosphere. So onward and upward, no worries.

There was a little button on the dinner item that someone could select and "buy instantly" for $2500, which seemed absurdly out of reach. But in early December, the TV celebrity and self-described conservative bad-boy Tucker Carlson hit the button, and we were his.

I loved it immediately. Surely he had some frat-boy prank up his sleeve...

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