Who was Anwar Al Awlaki and why did the U.S. government kill him in a 2011 drone strike, despite his U.S. citizenship?
The latter question has been answered with the court-ordered release of a Justice Department memo justifying the action. Awlaki, held “operational and leadership roles” in Al Qaeda in Yemen and “continue[d] to plot attacks intended to kill Americans.”
The first question – who he was – is one many in the media won’t be too eager to revisit, because they got it spectacularly wrong for a long time.
Pamela Geller announced at her Atlas Shrugs blog Wednesday morning that "the British government has banned us (herself and fellow Stop Islamization of America activist Robert Spencer) from entering the country ... In not allowing us into the country solely because of our true and accurate statements about Islam, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state. The nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead." She has posted the letter (Page 1; Page 2) from the British Home Office Secretary (UK's equivalent of our Homeland Security) telling her that her presence would not be "conducive to the public good."
A later post at Geller's blog has a collection of press reports which readers should review for the predictable signs of bias. One which isn't there is from the Associated Press, written by James Brooks (bolds are mine):
Note: This post has been revised to reflect the Times's 2012 coverage. The original version erroneously linked to a 2010 article. I sincerely regret the error.
The New York Times's coverage of year's annual Muslim Day parade in Manhattan appears to have consisted of a photo at This Week in Pictures and another at the City Room blog.
At the end of the parade, in news not relayed by the Times, at least one speaker called for suppression and criminalization of free speech and another seemed to revel in violence-based rhetoric. One can hardly argue that these presentations weren't related to the parade, since invited political dignitaries were on hand, including one gentleman, Democrat New York State Senator Tony Avello, who walked out after hearing calls for punishment speech seen to commit "blasphemy" against Muslim prophet Muhammed.
American blood was shed and mobs of Muslims continue to burn American flags and chant “Death to America!” around multiple U.S. consulates. It’s a scene that’s played out on almost a regular basis. A media story (about flushing Korans or other slights to Islam real or imagined) provides some pretext and the “Arab Street” explodes with raging mobs. The ambassador’s death is what sets the current situation apart.
With the news that an American air strike has killed the U.S.-born head of Al Quaeda in Yemen, Anwar Al Awlaki, the media will explain his significance in the terrorist organization, and his role in inspiring the Ft. Hood shooter and the “underwear bomber.” What they probably won’t tell you is that they once celebrated Al Awlaki as a “moderate” and a bridge-builder “between Islam and the West.”
Awlaki once served as imam of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Northern Virginia, the very same place that attracted many of the 9/11 hijackers and, later, Major Nadal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter.
CNN's Fareed Zakaria made it quite clear last summer that he supported the construction of the Ground Zero mosque. He was much more neutral in an interview with the mosque's developer Sunday, but was content to let his guest tell his side of the story without any scrutiny from the CNN host.
Although the once-proposed mosque is no longer making headlines, Zakaria decided anyway to feature the mosque's developer Sharif El-Gamal for a soft interview one year after the controversy ignited. El-Gamal received fawning coverage by CBS and NBC last summer for his work.
Last week, the media rightfully crowed over U.S. success in killing Osama Bin Laden, an unquestioned bad guy in the war on terror. They noted that intelligence gathered from that raid may have led to an unsuccessful U.S. Predator drone attack on Anwar Al Awlaki, leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Unfortunately, while Al Awlaki is very much as bad as Bin Laden, the media haven’t always known it.
The mainstream media have recently described this America-born terrorist as a “central figure” of Al Qaeda and the New York Times, ABC News, and MSNBC have all called him “radical” when reporting on the recent attempted drone attack. Al Awlaki has been linked to the 2009 Christmas Day Underwear bombing attempt in Detroit, the Fort Hood Shooting and the failed Times Square bombing.
But just 10 years ago they claimed he was a “moderate” a bridge-builder, and a “prayer leader.”
In an interview with liberal actress Shirley MacLaine, HLN's Joy Behar admitted that Bill O'Reilly "bullies you around a little bit" and suggested he needs to a figure to "smack him around" as the two women teed off on the popular Fox News host.
"Well, he is little bit intimidating as you say," Behar remarked to MacLaine confirming her . He bullies you a little bit, I think. I felt that." At the end of the segment MacLaine insisted that O'Reilly needs a motherly figure like Joy Behar to control him. "To smack him around," Behar added, and MacLaine agreed.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick performed a cut-and-paste job on Thursday's Newsroom by partially re-running a biased report from September 2010 on the apparent rise of "Islamophobia" in the United States. Just as before, all but one of Feyerick's sound bites during her report came from those who were worried about the supposed "intensifying hostility and rise in hate speech" against Muslims.
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux introduced the correspondent's report, which ran 40 minutes into the 12 pm Eastern hour, by putting it in the context of Rep. Peter King's hearings into the radicalization of American Muslims: "King says his radicalization of Islam hearing is going to help protect America from a terrorist attack. Well, critics, they call it a witch hunt. One of the concerns is that it is going to cause more Americans to fear and hate Muslims. Our Deborah Feyerick reports Islamophobia is on the rise." A chyron echoed Malveaux's last sentence: "Islamophobia on the Rise."
Tuesday's "Morning Joe" featured guest Daisy Khan, wife of Imam Rauf who tried to establish a mosque two blocks away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks. The panel praised Khan and her husband as peace-making moderates, and arrogantly questioned why more Americans couldn't accept the mosque at Ground Zero.
"America is the beacon of the world," co-host Mika Brzezinski said echoing Khan's earlier words affirming American freedom. "And yet, we had such a controversy about the community center that you and your husband were trying to start blocks away from Ground Zero," she added, questioning the American "understanding" of the center.
"One of the most depressing things to me was the fact that in 2010, Americans seemed to be less accepting of Muslim Americans than they were even in the months after 9/11," co-host Joe Scarborough lamented from his soapbox. "Why do you think we Americans had such a reaction – again, in New York, a place that's supposed to be the most open-minded and pluralistic?" he asked guest Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine.
Appearing as a guest on Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, Steve Roberts - who has worked for both the New York Times and U.S. News and World Report - after conceding that the Tea Party movement is important, dismissively asserted that the movement "didn’t win. You only won a couple of seats." Roberts:
I think that they are an important part of the American landscape. Now I don't think they're as important as they think they are. I mean, you had people coming into Washington this week and saying, wait, we won. No, you didn't win. You won a couple of seats, and you got to deal with everybody else.
After host Howard Kurtz wondered "did the media kind of turn on" President Obama and claimed that the media had not spent enough time giving credit to Obama for his recent legislative successes, leading to guest Thomas Frank of Harper’s to bring up complaints against Obama by disaffected liberals, Roberts asserted that there is no liberal media bias:
Condemning everyday Americans as racist, anti-immigrant Islamophobes was a favorite media theme in 2010, as documented by the Media Research Center's year-end Best Notable Quotables of 2010. Polls showed most Americans supported Arizona's effort to curb illegal immigration and opposed building an Islamic center near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers — but on both scores the media elite stacked their coverage against the public.
Winning the "Hazing Arizona Award for Denigrating Immigration Enforcement" was longtime New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who summoned images of resistance to Nazi occupation in an April 27 op-ed hoping for protests of the "police state" she claimed Arizona had become for trying to protect itself from illegal immigration.
It seems that the Times's Michael Shear is disappointed that Dear Leader is yet again caught up in a "distraction" ("Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Distraction"). It's headlined in the item's browser window as "Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Controversy." Interesting edit, don't you think? If it's a "controversy," the President owns it. If it's a "distraction," well, it's an unfair intrusion. Clever.
Shear wrapped it in a narrative whose theme was that "It all felt vaguely familiar." Well, yeah. What's more than vaguely familiar has been the press's tendency to lament the distractions our supposedly otherwise focused like a laser beam chief executive must endure. On April 9, 2009 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that "The words 'Obama' and 'distraction' have both appeared in 2,425 articles in just the past 30 days; excluding duplicates, it's about 450."
In his blog entry, Shear listed many other awful distractions the president has encountered. What's interesting are how many of them escalated because of Obama or people working directly for him:
Appearing as a guest on Saturday’s Huckabee show on FNC, Whoopi Goldberg - co-host of ABC’s The View - complained that bloggers disseminate inaccurate information about her without the need to "fact check," and that "they poop on you and they walk away." Goldberg: "But a blogger can say endless stuff. They don't have to fact check. ... And then that is picked up and made into some other story on another station, and it becomes the truth. See, I think fact outweighs assumption. So if you have facts in your hands, then you can talk, then you can have a conversation... People just, they poop on you and they walk away."
After asserting that she has said "not one thing" on ABC’s The View that she regrets saying, Goldberg soon added, "And I've gotten flack for what I felt was fact as opposed to someone's speculation."
But Goldberg has her own history of helping spread misinformation on The View. Last May, she and other co-hosts repeated the distorted claims of a left-wing organization in Texas which alleged that conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education were trying to downplay or eliminate references to slavery in its grade school history curriculum. On the Monday, May 17 show, Behar misinformed viewers with sarcasm: "Remember that thing called the 'slave trade'? Remember that? Okay, it turns out, what you learned was all wrong. Because it wasn't some evil buying and selling of human beings. It was simply called 'Atlantic triangular trade.' That's what they want to call it now. It's called revisionism. People do it about the Holocaust, and now Texas wants to do it about our country."
Moments later, Goldberg chimed in, "I’m sorry. Slavery was slavery. You can’t recall it." Instead of reading out the actual wording from the curriculum plan, panel members seemed only to refer to third-party accounts of the proposed changes.
And in April, the panel on the View helped feed the misinformed hysteria over Arizona’s effort to enforce federal immigration laws as some of her co-hosts assumed the new state law would require racial profiling and targeting of Hispanics, failing to convey that Arizona law enforcement would only check immigration documents of suspects who have been detained for some other reason. Goldberg acted more as moderator on this occasion and was not as outspoken as other co-hosts in making assertions about the new law, but she did not challenge the claims of her co-hosts and seemed to assume they were accurate. Goldberg, from the April 26 The View:
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, Keith Olbermann featured a "Worst Person" segment for the first time since indefinitely suspending it over two weeks ago as the MSNBC host decided to go after Pamela Geller, whom he called a "buffoon"; Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, who committed the sin of lumping MSNBC in with FNC while criticizing cable news; and frequent target FNC’s Roger Ailes.
In awarding the first place dishonor to Geller, he linked her opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque the bombing of a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida. Olbermann: "But our winner, Pam Geller. If anybody committed the original sin of stirring up the blind, stupid anger that is religious hatred in this country, it’s this buffoon."
He soon added: "Well, there is a problem with the two minutes hate:You may lose control of it, and it may come back to attack you. It spread from a proposed Islamic center in New York to an actual mosque bombing in Jacksonville to protests in Tennessee to this moronic anti-Sharia law law in Oklahoma and now Phoenix."
Smearing Bill O'Reilly as an "extremist" and a "jackass fool," MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan fired back at the Fox News Channel host for saying Muslims "killed us on 9/11." On his Friday afternoon MSNBC show, the liberal host launched a blistering attack on O'Reilly and accused him of lying and being a "fearmonger."
O'Reilly made his remarks in a heated debate on ABC's "The View" Thursday, where two of the show's co-hosts then stormed off the set after his remark about Muslims. When pressed as to why the mosque near Ground Zero was so controversial, O'Reilly answered that it was because Muslims "killed us on 9/11."
After the clip of the incident played, Ratigan snidely asked "I suppose that means we're now supposed to kill all the Muslims. Isn't that the current – that's the tit-for-tat, no?" He then descended into his rant against O'Reilly, President Bush, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Israel.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, after news reader Erica Hill reported on Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's heated Thursday appearance on ABC's 'The View,' co-host Harry Smith proclaimed O'Reilly to be "the bloviater-in-chief" and that "he was in full bloviation mode yesterday."
Hill began her report by declaring: "When Barbara Walters introduced the conservative talk show host on 'The View' Thursday, she ignited a major fuse, turning daytime TV into dynamite." Hill described how O'Reilly's statement that "Muslims killed us on 9/11" caused left-wing hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg to walk off the set. Once she concluded her piece, Smith said of O'Reilly: "He loves all this attention." Hill replied "he thrives on it." Smith added: "He was so happy to see their reactions to him."
For Joy Behar, saying Muslims killed Americans on September 11, 2001 is "hate speech," but saying the American government did it is perfectly acceptable and well within the bounds of civil discourse.
That, at least, is the standard she set forth yesterday, first throwing a temper tantrum on "The View" when Bill O'Reilly noted the religious identities of the 9/11 terrorists, and then calmly sitting down to discuss the incident with 9/11 truther Jesse Ventura.
"I question 9/11, I got a conspiracy theory." Ventura made sure to note at the outset. "So who's to say [Muslims] actually did [perpetrate the attacks] or not."
Behar's response: "Well that's another thing, yeah" (video and transcript below the fold - h/t Allahpundit).
While the "media will wade into a Tea Party event with hundreds of thousands of people looking for that one brain-dead Lyndon LaRouche follower" who says something asinine that they can plaster "all over the news," they have ignored the insane rhetoric coming from featured speakers at last Saturday's "One Nation Working Together" rally, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told viewers of the October 7 edition of "Hannity."
Appearing on last night's 9 p.m. Eastern program for the popular recurring "Media Mash" segment, the Media Research Center quoted the extreme rhetoric of musician Harry Belafonte, which was ignored by the mainstream media:
UPDATE: Do New York Times reporters read NewsBusters? NYT stealthily inserts a reference to 9/11 without informing readers of an update. The updated version appeared in Friday's print edition.
In the latest installment of its pro-bono PR campaign for the Ground Zero mosque, the New York Times attempted to draw parallels between opposition to the mosque and opposition to the construction of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, built in lower Manhattan in 1785.
But somehow in his discussion of the mosque opponents, Times reporter Paul Vitello neglected to explicitly mention the September 11 terrorist attacks - you know, the events that form the entire basis for that opposition. The omission allowed the Times to continue drawing false parallels, and to implicitly perpetuate the notion that objections to the mosque are unfounded, dishonest, or bigoted.
More fundamentally, the article avoided mentioning 9/11 since doing so would have required the reporter to address the one monumental disconnect between the two cases: Catholics did not slaughter 2,852 innocent civilians in God's name two blocks from St. Peter's Church.
American Values president Gary Bauer on Monday said the audience at ABC's "Holy War" special edition of "This Week" was stocked with people that support radical Islam and the building of the Ground Zero mosque.
As NewsBusters reported after Sunday's program, host Christiane Amanpour presented a tremendously skewed view of so-called American Islamophobia cueing up advocates of the premise while attempting to discredit skeptics.
One of those in attendance was Bauer who in a radio interview with WOR's Steve Malzberg the following day said the audience was also stacked to support the Islamophobia view (audio follows with transcript and commentary):
After two shows featuring six advocates of the Ground Zero mosque, including Iman Faisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan, but not a single guest to counter Christiane Amanpour’s contention opposition “has raised profound questions about religious tolerance and prejudice in the United States,” ABC on Sunday decided to air a pre-recorded and edited “special This Week town hall debate, Holy War: Should Americans Fear Islam?” Amanpour promised: “We air the issue from all sides.”
While twelve guests in total from both sides of the question earned air time (six on stage, three more in the Manhattan studio audience and three via satellite), Amanpour was more hostile to those who answered in the affirmative than she was toward those in the negative, cuing up advocates to correct critics, culminating in Amanpour trying to discredit critics by proposing “you think Daisy Khan is al Qaeda?”
She accused Gary Bauer of “blurring the lines between those who killed and the rest of the religion. Why are you deliberately blurring the lines?” And she charged: “So, Gary Bauer, as you know, a series of politicians have used the Islamic center, have used sort of Islamophobia and scare tactics in their campaigns.” Raising the vandalism at the site of a proposed mosque in Tennessee, Amanpour asserted: “After some of the loaded things that have been said, and we can play you any number of tapes, Mr. Bauer. Do you take any responsibility at all for, for instance, what happened in Murfreesboro?” Bauer was incredulous: “Are you serious?”
In light of President Barack Obama's recent attack on the Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto wonders: "why is the Ground Zero mosque the only case in which Obama has ever defended anyone's First Amendment rights without qualification?"
There are a number of possible answers, and at least some of them are reasonable and worthy of media attention. And indeed, a few journalists have noticed and raised objection to the White House's selective contempt for opinion media - Fox is "destructive," but MSNBC libtalkers Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann "provide an invaluable service."
But there is a deeper First Amendment double standard at work here, as Taranto notes:
Conservative radio host Steve Malzberg on Monday called Steve Pelley a louse for his puff piece about the Ground Zero mosque aired on CBS's "60 Minutes."
As NewsBusters previously reported, "In a Sunday 60 Minutes story that gave a glowing portrayal of the real estate developer and imam behind the Ground Zero mosque, CBS anchor Scott Pelley also used the opportunity to smear opponents of the project."
"Scott Pelley has just earned the Bob Schieffer 'I Don't Give a Rat's About Anything' Journalism Award," scolded Malzberg on his WOR radio program the following day.
"Do you hear this louse?" he asked. "Take your journalism degree, Scott, and put it at the bottom of your dog the next time he crouches down because that's what your journalism degree is worth you pathetic fool" (audio follows with partial transcript and commentary):
Eric Bolling's new show on the Fox Business Channel, Money Rocks, saw a significant display of fireworks this evening. During a discussion of some already controversial statements made by Democratic strategist, Bob Beckel, a very heated exchange developed involving Beckel and Atlas Shrugs publisher, Pamela Geller.
The controversy started when Bolling played a clip of Beckel's previous appearance on the show in which he stated:
"Look, at some point, I know it's sensitive here in New York and probably New Jersey, but we have to get over 9/11."
What did he mean by ‘we have to get over 9/11'? According to Beckel, this was simply an expression of frustration for a variety of things, such as extra security at airports and a few other minor inconveniences designed to catch "a bunch of non-existent terrorists."
The short list of ‘non-existent terrorists' since 9/11 that Mr. Beckel must be referring to, include the Madrid train bombers, Russian train bombers, Shoe Bomber, the Lackawanna Six, Fort Hood assassin, the Virginia ‘Jihad' Network, Christmas Day bomber, Fort Dix plotters, and the Times Square bomber.
Beckel might have been feeling the stress of trying to defend such a blatantly insensitive statement, by providing a blatantly inaccurate defense, as he experienced a misogynistic meltdown directed at Geller in the middle of the segment in which he said:
"You're a woman, you better be careful about saying who I carry water for."
In a Sunday 60 Minutes story that gave a glowing portrayal of the real estate developer and imam behind the Ground Zero mosque, CBS anchor Scott Pelley also used the opportunity to smear opponents of the project: "...a national controversy with anger, passion, and more than a little misinformation. Opponents whipped up a fury, calling the project a grotesque mega-mosque tied to terrorism."
Pelley began by touting how building developer Sharif El-Gamal was simply trying to improve a "dingy block in lower Manhattan" and that he "thought his project would be a step up for a seedy part of downtown." Pelley described how "the community enthusiastically agreed. The plan was endorsed by the Mayor, the borough president, and the community board." He then emphasized the distance from Ground Zero: "You can't see Ground Zero from here, but when you make the corner...you can see the cranes where the new World Trade Center buildings are going up....It took us another two minutes to walk to the edge of what the government officially designates as Ground Zero."
Pelley highlighted El-Gamal's multi-cultural background: "...you're a Muslim who married a Christian girl. Your mother is Catholic. And you joined the Jewish community center on the West Side of Manhattan." However, he then turned to mosque opponent Pamela Geller, whom he characterized as "a former New York media executive who writes a politically far Right blog that mixes news, opinion, and conspiracy theories."
Interviewing David Axelrod on Sunday’s This Week, Christiane Amanpour asked him to explain why “people don't appreciate some of the amazing legislative agenda” that President Barack Obama has “accomplished,” then with Senator Mitch McConnell she denigrated Republican Senate candidates who are Tea Party favorites: “Are you not afraid that their somewhat, one would say, some might say bizarre statements, their sort of fringe quality might actually turn people off?” She also condescendingly demanded of McConnell: “What is Christine O'Donnell's qualification for actually governing? What is Sharron Angle's actual qualification for governing?”
In a third segment, she cued up Jordan’s Queen Rania to confirm “Islamophobia” mars America: “You've seen the reaction and the fallout from the Islamic center, but it goes broader than that. Do you see a sort of a dangerous Islamophobia in the United States?”
While she repeatedly pushed Axelrod about why Democrats were delaying a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts for “the middle class,” with McConnell she tried to discredit extending the tax rates for everyone, childishly describing how “there's also this huge thing that the people of the United States are worried about, and that is the deficit, and keeping the tax cuts will add trillions to that.”
Catching up on an item from the August 22, Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, host Zakaria -- formerly of Newsweek -- ended his show with commentary in which he ridiculously suggested that Americans who oppose construction of a mosque near Ground Zero could learn a lesson about tolerance from the terrorist group Hezbollah, and cited the group as being accepting of diverse religions – including Judaism – in Lebanon in light of the restoration of a synagogue in Beirut. Without informing viewers of the history of viciously anti-Semitic speech from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and other leading figures within the anti-Israel group, the CNN anchor quoted Hezbollah’s claim that, rather than being anti-Semitic, they are simply opposed to "Israel’s occupation of Arab lands." Zakaria:
The project is said to have found support in many parts of the community, not just from the few remaining Jews there, but also Christians and Muslims and Hezbollah. Yes, Hezbollah, the one that the United States has designated a foreign terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s view on the renovation goes like this: Quote, "We respect divine religions, including the Jewish religion. The problem is with Israel’s occupation of Arab lands, not with the Jews." Food for thought.
But, as recounted by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Hezbollah members not only desire to take over all of Israel which they consider to be occupied, but the group’s leader Nasrallah has been very direct in his anti-Semitic speech, once even declaring that if the Jewish people "all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."
Catching up on an item from the Thursday, September 9, The View on ABC, Barbara Walters was at odds with her co-hosts over the issue of whether racism was the primary motivation of the Arizona illegal immigration law as well as opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. Whoopi Goldberg raised the question of whether "there may be an undercurrent of racism in the USA that’s building up," leading co-host Sherri Shepherd to assert that "you certainly hear racism a lot more, I think, than you ever heard it." Walters soon jumped in to voice dissent:
I think that we're kind of mixing things up. When you say there's more racism now, oh, there's so much less racism than 20 years ago or 50 years ago. ... There is racism in this country. That's not new. There is racism against the President. That's not new. But I disagree with putting the mosque and the Arizona laws. I think the Arizona laws have to do with losing jobs and people coming across the border to get those jobs.
After Goldberg responded, "Then why don't they say that?" Walters continued:
For the last several weeks there has been a debate raging over whether the grounds surrounding where the 9/11 attacks in Lower Manhattan are sacred and if it would be an appropriate place for an Islamic place of worship to be built. But if it isn’t appropriate, would it be an appropriate place for a Tea Party rally to be held? Possibly not.
But whether that’s the case or not, Newsweek’s David A. Graham would have you believe there will be a so-called “Election Day Tea Party rally” held at Ground Zero, led by former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, as an effort to shore up support for a 2012 presidential bid.