Hey J Street staffers, here's a friendly tip: When you're going to deny you said something on-the-record to a reporter, make sure the statement wasn't on tape.
The Washington Times revealed last week that the liberal "pro-Israel" group J Street had lied about taking money from anti-Zionist philanthropist George Soros. Today, a couple of the paper's trenchant investigative reporters uncovered even more devastating information on the group:
You know things are bad when a liberal organization loses the journalists.
On Friday, the Washington Times reported that the dovish "pro-Israel" group J Street had taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from controversial liberal philanthropist George Soros, after the organization had denied for years that Soros was a donor.
But instead of ‘fessing up immediately to its true funding sources, a panicked J Street public relations team kept misleading the media in the hours before the Washington Times story broke - and appeared to anger some formerly-sympathetic reporters along the way.
"A set of half-truths, non-truths and ambiguities from J Street lead a reasonable person to conclude that the group tried to conceal that George Soros has been one of its largest donors for years, and to falsely claim that it had been ‘open' about those donations over the past three years," wrote The Atlantic reporter Chris Good on Friday, noting that J Street officials had lied to him earlier that day.
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."
This announcement comes a few days after the Council on American-Islamic Relations proudly proclaimed that it would be giving Thomas a lifetime achievement award at its annual fundraising banquet in October.
The Committee's online invitation reads, "Join ADC for an evening to celebrate a woman with a lifetime of courage: The Great Helen Thomas":
Disgraced former White House correspondent Helen Thomas will be receiving a lifetime achievement award next month from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Coming roughly three months after Thomas was forced to resign from Hearst Newspapers for disgustingly telling Israeli Jews to move back to Germany and Poland and "get the hell out of Palestine," this is clearly going to raise a lot of eyebrows especially with all the media's recent hyperventilation over so-called Islamophobia.
Consider how the following report from The Hill is going to play in an environment where the press are accusing Americans of being anti-Muslim (h/t Hot Air headlines):
Appearing as a guest on Saturday’s Huckabee show on FNC, actor Jon Voight condemned Time magazine for the cover on its September 13 issue which provocatively displays the words "Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace" in the middle of a Star of David made from daisies. Voight charged that there must be anti-Semitism at Time magazine if such a cover could be devised. Voight:
Listen, if Israel falls we all fall. Did you see the Time magazine, did you guys see the Time magazine cover? Cover? It was amazing. Here's a cover with a Star of David on it, and it says Israel doesn't care about peace. ... But this is anti-Semitism. This is, who are the anti-Semites who are running Time magazine? And their prior cover, you know, they alluded to the Islamophobia, they're calling America Islamophobic.
As previously documented by NewsBusters, Time managing editor Richard Stengel bizarrely seemed to see a down side to fewer terrorist attacks against Israelis when he appeared on the Thursday, September 2, Morning Joe on MSNBC, as he suggested that it was a "sad truth" that the low level of recent violence from terrorists -- including the "Hamas folks" -- had made Israelis feel less urgency about negotiating with Palestinians. Stengel:
On Sunday’s syndicated Chris Matthews Show, after host Matthews asked if electing a President whose middle name was "Hussein" had "opened a door to better relations with the Arab and Islamic world. Or has it opened a door to more xenophobic American negativity?" the panel mostly agreed that Obama’s election was more of a "net plus" for America’s relations with the world's Muslim population. The Washington Post’s David Ignatius had a dissenting view that "President Obama raised expectations that there would be a different kind of America. That in itself could be dangerous."
After former CBS News anchor Dan Rather argued that "I think it's opened the door to both, but, on balance, and in the main, it's still a net plus in terms of the country's reputation," the BBC’s Katty Kay agreed and implicated President Bush in damaging America’s relations with the Muslim world. Kay: "I agree that it's a net plus, particularly when you compare it with what came before and the invasion of Iraq and how much of a problem that was for America's relations with the Middle East."
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell concurred: "I agree because after the invasion of Iraq and with this President and his multicultural background, it is a net plus."
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius then weighed in with a more pessimistic take:
If you believed the media, you would think that hate crimes against Muslims was a growing epidemic in America.
Just Monday, the New York Times had a front page story hysterically noting a "torrent of anti-Muslim sentiments and a spate of vandalism."
"The knifing of a Muslim cab driver in New York City has also alarmed many American Muslims," wrote Laurie Goodstein in the second paragraph of her article titled "American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?"
Unfortunately, as Michael Doyle reported on August 28, the most recent data concerning hate crimes in this country paint a very different picture than what Goodstein and others in the media have been dishonestly portraying of late:
Jay Leno on Friday ribbed Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the poor state of the economy.
In his opening monologue on the "Tonight Show," the comedian began with a lot of politics first joking about the President's Middle East peace talks, then moving to the war in Afghanistan, and eventually a poke at airline security.
On the day the Labor Department announced an uptick in the unemployment rate, Leno had a number of jokes about how bad the economy is.
Finally, the monologue concluded with a nice tribute to a United States Marine Corps unit in the audience (video follows with commentary):
ABC's Claire Shipman waxed ecstatic over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday's Good Morning America, as she reported on Mrs. Clinton's efforts in the Middle Eastern peace process. Shipman exclaimed how the Secretary had a "distinct, quite public moment of triumph" in her meetings with leaders from both sides, and noted how Clinton has become an "international political celebrity."
Anchor George Stephanopoulos, former communications director for President Bill Clinton, introduced the correspondent's report, which aired 44 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour. Stephanopoulos noted past administrations' failure "to broker a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians" and then proclaimed how it was Mrs. Clinton's "turn to try to make diplomatic history." Shipman began by highlighting how Hillary "remains one of the most popular members of the administration" and how she was now "squarely center stage" with the possibility of bringing "something different to this Middle East process."
In Time Magazine Managing Editor Rick Stengel's mind, it's really "sad" that the wall between Israel and the West Bank - intended to keep murderous terrorists in the Palestinian territory - has been a success. Stengel apparently considers Isreali deaths worthwhile if they lead to more productive peace talks.
In a "Morning Joe" segment yesterday titled "Why Israel doesn't care about peace" - after the upcoming Time cover story - Stengel posited that the lack of violence in Isreal is responsible for that country's supposed reluctance to reach a peace deal. Stengel stated (video below the fold - h/t Jim Hoft):
They haven't had a car bombing in two and a half years. And the sad truth really is that the wall with the West Bank has actually worked. I mean, most Israelis in the course of their lives don't come into contact with any Palestinians at all. The wall is functioning. And the Gaza strip is so small and so isolated they feel that those folks, the Hamas folks are not that big of a threat...
I mean, the Israelis feel like, you know what? The status quo isn't so bad and we don't mind is there is no peace at all.
Defenders of controversial imam Feisal Abdul Rauf have been touting his past efforts in offering counterterrorism advice to the FBI as a way to illustrate his bridge-building intentions. Much like other reports, they tend to gloss over the more controversial aspects of Rauf's statements. But, as is typical with the Ground Zero mosque imam, it can be demonstrated that he is frequently speaking with a forked tongue.
There is no doubt that Rauf has made some questionable and incendiary comments regarding America and her role in the Muslim world. Perhaps these statements fit the imam's overall rhetoric involving U.S. complicity in the attacks of 9/11. As does the following statement to the FBI, which is conveniently omitted from media reports defending Rauf.
Bridge-building imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was giving a crash course in Islam for FBI agents in March of 2003. When asked to clarify such terminology as ‘jihad' and ‘fatwa', Rauf stated (emphasis mine throughout):
"Jihad can mean holy war to extremists, but it means struggle to the average Muslim. Fatwah has been interpreted to mean a religious mandate approving violence, but is merely a recommendation by a religious leader. Rauf noted that the U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks could be considered a jihad, and pointed out that a renowned Islamic scholar had issued a fatwah advising Muslims in the U.S. military it was okay to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan."
"Is President Obama good for the Jews?" asked New York Times columnist Charles Blow Saturday.
His answer was quite surprising: "For more and more Jewish-Americans, the answer is no."
In his piece marvelously titled "Oy Vey, Obama," Blow referred to Thursday's Pew Research Center report finding "33% of Jewish voters identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, up from 20% in 2008."
From there, Blow went where a liberal columnist for the New York Times typically dares not:
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered a "Special Comment" in which he invoked Nazi Germany and suggested that blocking construction of a mosque near Ground Zero could be the first of a "thousand steps" toward another holocaust. He also hinted at a moral equivalence between the Islamic Empire’s conquests and America’s expansion into the lands of Native Americans as he attempted to discredit former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s concerns about the choice of "Cordoba House" as the original name planned for the mosque as being intentionally symbolic of a Muslim victory at Ground Zero.
After starting his "Special Comment" by quoting Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous words about the Holocaust of World War II, he at first tried to make his rant sound more moderate as he contended that, "I make no direct comparison between the attempts to suppress the building of a Muslim religious center in downtown Manhattan and the unimaginable nightmare of the Holocaust." He added: "Such a comparison is ludicrous – at least, it is now."
But the Countdown host was still alarmist enough to fear the mosque controversy could lead in that horrific direction. Olbermann: "Niemoller was not warning of the Holocaust. He was warning of the thousand steps before a holocaust became inevitable. If we are at merely the first of those steps again today, it is one step too close."
When reporting on the nationality of a criminal from another country who has already been arrested, it normally would be considered unnecessary or even uncalled for to take the extra step of explicitly identifying the suspect’s ethnicity or religious affiliation as well. But, given that Israelis, the vast majority of whom are Jewish, often face sharp criticism and negative press reaction over conflicts with their Arab neighbors – inflaming anti-Semitic sentiment – if an Israeli citizen who is non-Jewish is implicated in a violent crime, informing viewers that he is non-Jewish would seem to be in order.
But so far in the media coverage of serial stabber Elias Abuelazam’s arrest, some major news shows on both broadcast and news networks have avoided explicitly informing viewers that he is not a Jewish Israeli, while others have been more upfront with viewers on the subject. CNN’s The Situation Room, the NBC Nightly News, FNC’s Fox and Friends, and CBS’s The Early Show all have directly relayed to viewers at least once that Abuelazam is an Israeli Arab. But ABC’s World News, the CBS Evening News, FNC’s Fox Report, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN’s American Morning and NBC’s Today show have all avoided such a direct identification of ethnicity.
The Israeli commandos who intercepted a flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip on May 31 were cleared of wrongdoing by a military inquiry into the matter. The same panel faulted the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for "mistakes that were made in decisions, including some taken at relatively high levels," according to retired Israeli Major General Giora Eiland.
While we at NewsBusters have taken Reuters to task before for their biased coverage of the Middle East, the news wire actually broke from the pack a bit in its portrayal of the story, focusing on the conclusion that there was no wrongdoing by the Israelis in the now infamous raid.
By contrast, the Washington Post and Associated Press opened their stories focused on the negative. Below are the lede paragraphs for the respective news agencies:
Here's Bauder's fourth paragraph wherein he described the Lebanese cleric that Nasr had praised as "[o]ne of Hezbollah's giants [she] respects a lot" (emphasis mine):
Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died Sunday after a long illness. He was staunchly anti-American and linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans, a charge he denied.
Here's Bauder's lead paragraph:
NEW YORK -- Octavia Nasr has been fired. CNN fired the editor responsible for Middle Eastern coverage after she posted a note on Twitter expressing admiration for a late Lebanese cleric considered an inspiration for the Hezbollah militant movement.
Wouldn't a better lede incorporate elements of the fourth paragraph? Something like:
Both CNN and CNN.com have punted on the firing of Octavia Nasr, the network's senior editor of Middle East affairs, after she mourned the death of Islamist cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, "one of Hezbollah's giants," to use her own phrase, on Twitter. None of CNN's on-air programming nor the website has mentioned her "leaving the company" since the news broke on Wednesday afternoon.
In an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric noted President Obama's unpopularity in Israel and pressed Netanyahu to remedy that fact: "To change public opinion in your country, should you be more strongly advocating on his behalf?"
Couric preceded that question by citing a recent poll of Israelis, which she seemed perplexed by: "Can you explain this to me, then? In a poll conducted a month ago – just a month ago – 71 percent of the Jews in Israel surveyed said they dislike President Obama; 47 percent expressed a strong dislike."
Earlier in the interview, Couric tried to gauge Netanyahu's feelings toward Obama: "Do you trust Barack Obama?...surely there have been disappointments with the Obama administration. Can you just be candid with me and tell me how the administration has disappointed you?" While Couric asked about Israeli "disappointments" with Obama, she never cited any specific Obama administration policies or actions as the cause of those disappointments.
On Monday, NewsBusters wondered how CNN would handle one of its senior editors expressing regrets for the death of the Hezbollah cleric that possibly orchestrated the 1983 bombing of two Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
Two days later, the self-professed "most trusted name in news" dropped Octavia Nasr for tweeting, "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot.."
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday repeatedly berated Benjamin Netanyahu as to what the Israeli Prime Minister will do for the peace process.
Focusing almost entirely on Israel, while excluding the U.S. and the Palestinians, he hectored, "What are you prepared to do? More security autonomy for the Palestinians on the West Bank? Prisoner releases?"
Stephanopoulos did highlight the contrast between April's frosty meeting with President Obama and a more friendly visit at the White House, Tuesday.
In the tease for the show, he wondered, "President Obama and Israel's Prime Minister all smiles at the White House. But, is the friendship as solid as they claim?" Yet, the former Democratic operative failed to ask a single question as to what Obama could do to make the relationship stronger.
CNN's senior editor of Middle East affairs on Sunday publicly expressed regrets for the death of Hezbollah's Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah the cleric that possibly orchestrated the 1983 bombing of two Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
According to the New York Times, he also "justified suicide bombings and other tactics of asymmetrical warfare by arguing that if Israel and its allies used advanced weaponry, Islam permitted the use of any weapons in retaliation."
But before we get to Fadlallah's background, here's what CNN's Octavia Nasr tweeted on July 4 (h/t Weekly Standard via Seton Motley):
Great idea. While we're at it, let's invite al Qaeda to a conference on Israel's future . . .
On Morning Joe today, Zbigniew Brzezinski recommended that the US organize an "international conference" on Afghanistan's future—and invite Iran to participate. The former Carter National Security Advisor didn't say what positive contributions he might expect from a country working in defiance of international sanctions to develop nuclear weapons and which has stated its desire to wipe Israel off the map.
Catching up on an item from last week on the Tuesday, June 8, NBC Nightly News, correspondent Tom Aspell portrayed the residents of Gaza as living through a life prison sentence imposed by Israel: "Israel's blockade on Gaza isn't just about preventing goods from getting in, it's about preventing 1.5 million Palestinians from getting out. It sentences them to life inside a 140-square-mile prison." Anchor Brian Williams set up the piece: "We are back now with a rare look inside a place 1.5 million people call home. The Israelis call it a hotbed of terrorism, but the people who live there say they are prisoners of poverty and misery."
As Aspell asserted that dire conditions exist for those in Gaza, he barely mentioned reports to the contrary, and placed the burden of blame squarely on Israel as, even though Egypt actively takes part in the blockade, the NBC correspondent only indirectly alluded to Egypt’s participation as he mentioned that tunnels that lead from Egypt to Gaza are illegal, and related that "some supplies" are "smuggled through hundreds of illegal tunnels under the border from Egypt." But last February, FNC’s Mike Tobin devoted a report to the construction of underground walls by Egypt in an attempt to keep up its end of the blockade by closing off the tunnels: "With each elongated piece of steel Egyptians drive 20 yards into the ground down to the water table, they get closer to completing the iron curtain which will close Gaza's smuggling tunnels. When construction began a month ago, Palestinians in the Gaza strip rioted killing an Egyptian soldier."
Poor Barack Obama. Being president can take a lot out of him. That's why he needs to relax on the links, and relieve some stress into his golf game. No problem, says the Washington Post, the Gulf Spill can wait. This is the same Washington Post that berated President Bush for golfing while an armed conflict was taking place…in Israel.
Not that suicide bombings in Israel are an unserious matter, but doesn't the disaster in the Gulf require at least as much attention (far more, in my mind) from the President? The Post doesn't seem to think so.
So while the paper decried Bush's "golf cart diplomacy" and devoted over 600 words to suggesting that Bush's golf game was distracting from his work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Post found no such grounds to criticize Obama. As a reporter for one of the paper's blogs put it, "who cares?" Obviously not the Post (h/t Jim Hoft).
During an interview on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, Rabbi David Nesenoff, known for exposing Helen Thomas’s anti-Semitic views, informed viewers that, up until now, he has considered himself to be a liberal Democrat – who even opposed the Iraq War and supported Barack Obama – but now asserts that "I have to really reevaluate liberal and conservative and really find out where I stand because I think I've been a little blind."
As Nesenoff recounted that he had previously agreed with Thomas in her opposition to the war in Iraq, and her challenging of President Bush on the matter, he now sees himself as unknowingly being allied with people who think that "Israel and the Jewish people don't have a connection." Before being interrupted by host Howard Kurtz, Nesenoff began to explain his evolution of thought:
They’re accusing me of being some right-wing ambusher, and it really rocked my world because I have to reevaluate my life and my standing in the agendas because, yeah, I’m a New York Democrat Jewish liberal supporter of Obama, donated to his candidacy for a year, said give him a chance ... watched all these liberal media, and now I have to reevaluate ... I have to now speak to people with all different agendas because if I was part of a team where their agenda was that Israel and the Jewish people don’t have a connection – which is exactly what Helen Thomas said – there’s no connection, why are they even there-
"The idea that there is a pro-Israeli bias in the broad media - whatever ‘the media' means at this point, I strongly disagree with," Meacham said. "I think if anything you run into a very strong feeling on the Palestinian side."
That led another panelist on Maher's show, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to protest by asking who is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel in politics or media.