This past weekend, intrepid journalists at the New York Post and NorthJersey.com released information they unearthed about proposed Ground Zero Mosque "organizer" Sharif El-Gamal and frontman Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, respectively, that the wire services, the New York Times and the national TV networks would likely have run with by now had the items related to a major church or synagogue.
But since the news has to do with what has turned into the PC crowd's cause celebre and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's personal pet project, you may not see the stories covered anywhere else.
The arguably more important story of the two concerns the tax problems of Mr. El-Gamal (pictured above via the Post) and his company, because they directly related to the GZM's property. The story by Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein went up early Sunday morning:
On Thursday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty questioned the motives of the planners behind the proposed New York City mosque near Ground Zero: "The developer... has said the proximity of the planned mosque and center is not an issue. Really?...It's simply unrealistic to think you can build a Muslim house of worship two blocks from where this awful thing happened, and not get a negative reaction."
Cafferty raised the mosque controversy during his 5 pm Eastern hour commentary: "Sometimes no answer can be an answer. When asked if a portion of the $100 million needed to build the mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero here in New York City might come from either Saudi Arabia or Iran, the developers refused to comment. This only adds to the already heated controversy surrounding this project."
The CNN personality, after noting that "15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September the 11th, came from Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. considers Iran to be a sponsor of terrorism," applauded New York Governor David Paterson's effort to find a compromise over the planned mosque's site, labeling him "one of the few rational voices in the conversation."
On Wednesday's Newsroom, CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick refreshingly asked the developer behind the planned mosque near Ground Zero many hard questions. Feyerick bluntly asked Sharif el-Gamel, "Why not have a prayer space for Buddhists or Jews or Christians...why must it be Muslim?" The correspondent even brought up how one of the landing gear of one of the planes ended up on the site of the planned mosque [audio clips available here].
Feyrick conducted her hardball interview of el-Gamel at his New York City office. The CNN correspondent almost immediately launched into her prayer space question. When the real estate developer initially replied, "There are Jewish community centers all over the country," Feyerick interrupted with a sharp retort: "But the Jews didn't take down two towers." El-Gamel continued that "there are YMCA's all over the country," but she gave a similar reply: "But the Christians didn't take down two towers."
The journalist followed up with the issue of the planned mosque's proximity to the Ground Zero and mentioned the plane wreckage that ended up on the site: "For those who are so- still sensitive and so raw to this, their question- their overriding question is, why here? Why so close? It's two blocks, but it was close enough that landing gear ended up on the roof. Why?"