02/13/15

Media’s Lack of Curiosity About Killer of Muslims in North Carolina

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Was the brutal murder of three Muslims in North Carolina this week a case of “random violence,” or were the three targeted because of their Muslim faith? And why, of all the murders committed across the country this week, did these three grab so much national media attention? The FBI has now joined the investigation.

Perhaps the lessons learned from Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona in January of 2011 could inform the answers to these questions, and serve as a reminder of the dangers of biased reporting on murder cases. But, unfortunately, the mainstream media continue to perpetuate a confusing double standard when it comes to reporting on the deaths of innocents.

Why, for example, did the deaths of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina gain traction at The Washington Post, Reuters, and many other media outlets which speculated that it was a possible hate crime, while this black teen murdering a white classmate and taking a selfie with the corpse didn’t receive anywhere near the same treatment? And what about the murders occurring in Chicago every day? Don’t those deserve headlines, and candlelight vigils too?

“However, I do think it’s fair to say that attributing political motives to individual killings is much more of a phenomenon on the left than on the right,” argues Mark Hemingway for The Weekly Standard in a column regarding the recent execution-style shootings of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

The alleged shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, liked the “Huffington Post, Rachel Maddow, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Freedom from Religion Foundation, Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy,’ Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gay Marriage groups and similar progressive pages” on Facebook, notes Hemingway. Maddow didn’t mention any of that on her show when talking about the incident.

Hicks displayed a habit of posting snarky pictures with slogans like, “Democrats aren’t perfect but at least they haven’t been shoving poor Jesus up my c—ch and Ronald Reagan down my throat.” Another picture he promoted reads, “So Rick Santorum thinks that when people get educated they stop believing in God? Best advertisement for Atheism I’ve ever heard.”

And Hicks commented on Ground Zero: “Seems an overwhelming majority of Christians in this country feel that the Muslims are using the Ground Zero Mosque plans to’mark their conquest’ [sic] Bunch of hypocrites, everywhere I’ve been in this country there are churches marking the Christian conquest of this country from the Native Americans. Funny thing is the Christians did that while defying our Constitution, and got away with it!!”

“It was logical for some people to hear about the shootings and wonder if recent news involving the Islamic State—including the deaths of a Jordanian pilot and an American hostage—could lead to some sort of reprisal against Muslims, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” reported the Post regarding the three deaths on February 11.

In 2011 the SPLC’s Richard Cohen blamed the shooting of Rep. Giffords on Sarah Palin’s political rhetoric, citing the work of staffer Potok. The Discovery Channel plans to air a documentary, “Hate in America,” this month with the SPLC as a partner helping “examine the current realities of intolerance in America.”

The SPLC runs a hate crimes racket, and the media—desperate to promote headlines that fit their pre-existing left-wing narratives about race, inequality and religion—are quick to swallow their propaganda.

“I think it’s perfectly natural to guess that this is anti-Islamic,” Potok told the Post in the interview regarding the triple murder. “Not just because the three victims are Muslim, but because there has been so much terrible news in recent days about extremist Muslims.” Potok also appeared on MSNBC on the morning of February 13 with the news anchor Tamron Hall, and there was no mention of Hicks’ political leanings, which appear to be consistent with their own.

It is ironic that Hicks, himself, may have, at least in part, allowed the SPLC to fuel his own brand of hate—if it was hate, and not a longtime dispute over parking—that caused Hicks to allegedly kill three innocent people.

“We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was…But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers,” wrote Paul Krugman of The New York Times after the Loughner shooting.

“Keith Olbermann had a special edition of his ‘Countdown’ show on MSNBC the night of the shooting, in which he had a series of guests on who all specu­lated that Loughner was influenced by ‘right-wing extremists’ and that the Right was far more guilty of violent and hateful speech than the Left, creating a climate conducive for this sort of action,” I reported back in 2011.

Have the media learned from their past attempts to politicize violent shootings, or does the marked omission of similar rhetoric regarding the Hicks case simply indicate that the mainstream media hope that the progressive ideology of this alleged killer will not actually be used against them?

If Hicks was a champion of liberal causes such as gay rights and abortion, and one’s ideological background has any bearing on the decision to brutally murder someone, then why isn’t the media likewise exploring in depth Hicks’ motivations—his likes, dislikes, ideology, inspiration, etc.—as they did when they erroneously blamed the right for Loughner’s shooting of Giffords? Instead, the Post published a story on the “particular tensions between Islam and atheism” which allowed atheist groups to denounce and separate themselves from the killer. If Hicks had any deeper motivation rooted in progressivism, you wouldn’t find it there.

On February 11 The Washington Post authors quoted from the SPLC, then linked to Hicks’ Facebook page, and failed to inform their readers of Hicks’ admiration for this group.

And the motivation of the attack remains in dispute, despite the hate crime allegations. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime,” said the victims’ father Mohammed Abu-Salha. His evidence: “This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt.”

More recent news reporting by the Associated Press indicates that when Hicks “talked with them with his gun in his belt,” as the father described, it was likely during a dispute over a visitor’s parking space. According to the AP, a resident of that condo “said Hicks complained about once a month that the two men were parking in a visitor’s space as well as their assigned spot.”

It continued: “He would come over to the door, knock on the door and then have a gun on his hip saying ‘you guys need to not park here,’ said Ahmad, a graduate student in chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. ‘He did it again after they got married.’”

The victims in the most recent case appear to be the type of Muslims whom many in America would embrace as fellow patriots, rather than as radical fundamentalists who prompt what some term “Islamophobia.” The murdered couple was active in charity efforts. “Barakat had recently posted about providing free dental supplies and food to dozens of homeless people in Durham, something he had done twice in recent months, buying toothpaste, brushes, floss and mouthwash that he put into individual bags for each homeless person,” reported the Post. And his wife had traveled to the Turkish border last year, not to join the Islamic State but to “deliver dental supplies to a Turkish town…”

But then again, Barakat and his wife met while helping to run North Carolina State’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) chapter. Perhaps they weren’t aware of the origins of that organization. The MSA is a Muslim Brotherhood front group, and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is the group that spawned al Qaeda and Hamas. President Obama has embraced the MB at home and abroad, and this is a subject that the media should thoroughly explore, while there is still a chance to diminish their influence. Unfortunately, very few in our media are willing to investigate the MB—or even acknowledge their influence—instead they treat them like some benign, charitable group such as the Kiwanis International.

While it would be convenient for the media, and its allies on the left, to proffer evidence of a violent Muslim backlash when speaking about the culture of hate in a world full of news reports about Islamic State militants beheading their captives, or the Charlie Hebdo murders, not every murder’s newsworthiness should be coldly calculated based on the race, faith, or the known ideology of its participants—or perpetrators. There is an average of about 40 murders a day in this country, most of which we never hear about until the media find one that fits a narrative for them. Or at least they think it does. And then it takes on a life of its own.

02/3/15

Benghazi Hearings Provide a Glimmer of Hope

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Last week, the Democrat Members of the Select Committee on Benghazi virtually declared war on the majority members, criticizing their pace, rules, and committee scope.

Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) claimed that the Select Committee was on a wild goose chase for a nonexistent “unicorn” and “nefarious conspiracy,” and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) falsely called the stand down order a “myth.”

But in what may be a turning point for the Select Committee, Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy emphasized at the January 27th hearing that “we’re gonna pick up the pace…. I have no interest in prolonging” the investigation into Benghazi.

“Letters haven’t worked. Southern politeness hasn’t worked. We’re going to ratchet it up,” he said at what members of the mainstream media, such as U.S. News and World Report, characterized as a “partisan grudge match.”

The next day Chairman Gowdy issued a statement that defied Democrats outright, arguing he “will continue to move the investigation forward in a fair and impartial manner, but…will not allow the minority’s political games and unreasonable demands to interfere with the investigation.” Rep. Gowdy said he will continue operating under the scope originally set by the House of Representatives.

This, the media preferred to coin as political failure or “out of control” politics. “The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which began with dignity last year, spun out of control Tuesday as Democrats complained that Republicans were abusing their authority and Republicans threatened to spray the Obama administration with subpoenas,” wrote Dana Milbank for The Washington Post. Milbank specializes in snarky columns criticizing and marginalizing conservatives, and even took aim at the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi for a conference held on Benghazi in 2013.

Regarding the hearing last week, the Associated Press in turn, remarked, “The partisan tone marked a sharp turnaround for a panel that had won praise for a bipartisan approach through its first two public hearings.”

The subject of the first two slow-rolling hearings was the current state of embassy security, a topic suggested by the committee’s Democratic members which had little to do with the administration’s response to the attack—and which conveniently glosses over the security failures of 2012 to emphasize present solutions instead of accountability.

MSNBC focused largely on political angles instead of substance. For Alex Seitz-Wald, it was all about Hillary Clinton. “Gowdy and Republicans had been hoping to preserve and grow the credibility of their inquiry, which is part of the reason for their assiduous avoidance of taking pot shots at Clinton Tuesday,” wrote Seitz-Wald. “But Democrats are seeking to undermine the credibility of the panel, in the hopes that it will be viewed as a partisan witch hunt if it ever demands testimony from Clinton.”

New bombshell reporting by The Washington Times shows that Clinton was the strong voice pushing to intervene in Libya in 2011 in the first place, which set the stage for the attacks. Ultimately, however, President Obama was the “Decider-in-Chief” and bears at least equal culpability.

Chairman Gowdy told Megyn Kelly of Fox News last May that he plans to subpoena Mrs. Clinton, and repeated that in December.  We now learn that the Select Committee has requested Clinton and other top State Department officials’ emails, and that Rep. Gowdy is willing to bring Clinton before the Committee just 30 days after receiving “all the [State Department] documents,” according to CNN.

Select Committee Members would also like to interview 22 persons with firsthand knowledge of Benghazi whom Congress has never spoken to before. The Associated Press reported on January 28, the day after the hearing, that State Department officials said they were ready to “commit” to interview dates for these persons.

But the press doesn’t seem interested in holding the administration accountable for the fact that the State Department waited from the December 4 request until January 28 to issue such a guarantee.

The State Department representative, Joel Rubin, said at the January hearing that a part of the committee’s relationship with the department is indicating priorities for requests—as if more resources could not be allocated to provide such information to the committee more swiftly.

Rubin, formerly of the Ploughshares Fund, also said at the hearing that he was a friend of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in 2012 at the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi. Rubin wrote the following for ThinkProgress that year:

“Instead of getting that support, their deaths are being used as a partisan attack on President Obama, part of a false narrative that the president failed them. What has failed them is our political system. Rather than supporting a serious, nonpartisan investigation into what took place and what went wrong, waiting to get all the facts out, conservatives are trying to affix blame for their deaths for political advantage. This is how some conservatives use terrorist attacks against America.”

Now Rubin helps guard the gates for that same President who would like this simply dismissed as a phony scandal.

Although the media, along with the Democrats, may accuse Chairman Gowdy of partisan politics as he attempts to more aggressively investigate the Benghazi attacks and the resulting cover-up, I am cautiously optimistic about his new tone.

“The letter exchanges between Gowdy and Cummings [prior to the hearing], as well as Tuesday’s hearings, should put to rest forever the fiction that this type of investigation can be conducted in some Nirvana-zone of bipartisan comity,” Kenneth Timmerman astutely wrote for Front Page Magazine.

With this new focus on government stonewalling the Committee brought the possibility of embarrassing the administration to the fore, and the backlash was palpable.

Accuracy in Media and the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi have long been critical of the Mike Rogers’ House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report, which contains a number of factual errors and glosses over the intelligence failures leading up to the attacks. Apparently the Select Committee asked to examine the HPSCI’s research in October—and had been asking the Central Intelligence Agency for these files ever since. These files were only produced by the agency after learning that a hearing on them was scheduled.

Similarly, the State Department has produced 40,000 pages related to Benghazi, but Rubin wouldn’t answer as to whether the information provided to the Accountability Review Board was provided fully within those documents.

He also refused to say whether he thought the Select Committee was frivolous.

“If Gowdy is proceeding as a good prosecutor should, he is lining up all his ducks before he goes public with anything,” CCB member, and former CIA officer, Clare Lopez told WorldNetDaily’s Jerome Corsi last week as part of a series of articles about the CCB’s own investigations. “I think it’s premature to jump to a condemnation of the process or the committee leadership when the truth is that we don’t know,” she said.

“Delays by Gowdy are unnecessary at this time,” CCB Member and Retired General Paul Valley told Corsi after the Times’ bombshell dropped. “Gowdy can press forward now as he does have sufficient intelligence and documents to call all witnesses and issue subpoenas as necessary.”

“Additional delays will only give the obstructionists in the Obama White House, the State Department and the Democrats in Congress time to thwart the efforts of the select committee,” Vallely said.

While the administration continues to stonewall the Select Committee whenever possible, and Democrats continue to complain that the investigation isn’t bipartisan enough, the CCB will continue to search for the truth in its own citizen-led investigation.

We have already dug up some disturbing facts in our 2014 interim report, such as:

  • the administration decision to dismiss the possibility of truce talks with Moammar Qaddafi;
  • helping arm al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya; and
  • the inadequate military response that night.

“I don’t know if the decision came from the White House or from Hillary Clinton at the State Department,” Retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic told Corsi about those failed truce talks. However, Admiral Kubic said, “…the advice for me from AFRICOM was to basically just leave everything alone, to simply stand down.” Who, exactly, at the White House decided it was unnecessary to pursue truce talks with Qaddafi?

The CCB and Accuracy in Media are continuing the search for the truth with our own Freedom of Information Act initiative. Currently, the Department of Defense is withholding 12 pages of maps from us regarding the position of military forces during the attacks.

As we await our day in court, we will not stop digging for the truth through whatever means are available to us. I am encouraged by the possibility that the Select Committee might likewise now use all the powers at its disposal to force the administration to reveal what happened that night and in the aftermath, not only to its Congressional investigators, but to the public as well. America deserves answers, not more stonewalling.

01/27/15

A No-go Zone for Truth

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Accurately reporting on no-go zones dominated by Muslims in Europe is now a no-go zone. Our media have made a mess of the whole issue and are now afraid to dig themselves out. What a disgrace and disservice to news consumers.

Jumping on the pile, the left-wing Politico has published a story accusing Louisiana Republican Governor and possible presidential candidate Bobby Jindal of telling a “lie” about the no-go zones by saying they exist. But the story is itself based on a lie. Things are so twisted that Politico is doing the lying by denying that the no-go zones exist. How did we get in such a mess?

Let’s understand that the method in this madness is to accommodate the radical Muslim lobby and demonize politicians who talk about the jihad problem.

First of all, the evidence shows that the zones or areas do exist. We cited evidence for them, and numerous other outlets have done so as well. The confusion stems from a Fox News apology over the matter that should never have been made.

Steve Emerson made a mistake on one Fox show in saying that “in Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”

Acknowledging his error, Emerson tells WorldNetDaily that he is nevertheless appalled that the media have now decided that any and all reporting on no-go zones is wrong. “It’s outrageous for media outlets to apologize, saying ‘no-go zones’ don’t exist in Europe, when even the New York Times for years has published articles documenting Muslim ‘no-go zones’ do exist in European countries like France,” he tells WND reporter Jerome Corsi.

Corsi notes that “NBC News, the New York Times, the Associated Press and others were using the term ‘no-go’ zones for Muslim-majority neighborhoods in Paris when Muslim youth gangs were rampaging through the streets and setting cars on fire.”

We made the same point in our treatment of the issue, noting that Fox News suddenly altered its reporting of the Muslim riots in France in 2005, determining them to be “civil riots” instead. We saw then the power of the Islamists to alter Fox’s coverage.

Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz had a great opportunity on his Sunday show “Media Buzz” to set the record straight. Instead of confronting his own channel over the unnecessary apology, Kurtz praised CNN’s Anderson Cooper for making the same kind of apology. But then he mentioned that other outlets have been reporting on the no-go zones for years. So an apology wasn’t necessary after all! “The subject is complicated,” he said. No it’s not. Just tell the truth.

If all of this is unnecessarily confusing, it’s clearly because of the unnecessary Fox apology. It was a political apology. There is no other explanation. It is this kind of pandering that is becoming a pattern at Fox, which had earlier yanked anchor Bret Baier from a Catholic conference under pressure from the homosexual lobby.

Liberal special interest groups should not have this kind of influence on a news organization, especially one claiming “fair and balanced” coverage that is also supposed to be accurate.

Journalism 101 teaches that corrections or apologies are called for when errors are made. Since no-go areas do in fact exist, according to numerous sources, no apology was necessary. Yet, Fox News offered the view that since the no-go zones are not “specific” or “formal” entities, they really don’t exist. Fox was wrong. This is complete nonsense and a gross distortion of the concept.

Robert Spencer makes the observation, “The Fox apology is all the more curious in light of the fact that others, even on the Left, have noticed the no-go zones in France before some Fox commentators began talking about them in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.”

Citing just one example of many, he notes that David Ignatius had written in The New York Times back in 2002, “Yet Arab gangs regularly vandalize synagogues here, the North African suburbs have become no-go zones at night, and the French continue to shrug their shoulders.”

Spencer notes that Fox’s apology “only plays into the hands of leftists and Islamic supremacists who have a vested interest in rendering people ignorant and complacent about the reality of what is going on in these areas.”

He suggests that Fox “apologize for its apology.” That would perhaps further confuse matters, but it is the right thing to do.

Without an apology for the apology, those who apologize for the Islamization of Europe like Arif Rafiq will continue to claim, as he did in Politico, that Jindal, by even discussing the no-go zones, “has been repeating a lie that even Fox News was forced to apologize for.” The Fox News correction, or apology, though unwarranted, is now being cited as the media standard.

Politico headlined the piece, “Bobby Jindal’s Muslim Problem,” as if the governor has a bias against Muslims. So a Fox News apology has now been transformed into an indictment of a conservative political figure. Soon, Jindal will be denounced as an “Islamophobe,” another smear term used by the radical Islam lobby.

The liberal media won’t believe any of Fox’s normal day-to-day reports. But when the channel claims to have made an error that makes the rest of the media look good by comparison, that suddenly becomes the truth and the channel has to be believed. This is how reality is turned upside down.

The real story is why Fox made this unnecessary correction. The clout of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Council on American-Islamic Relations is the most likely explanation. Fox has undermined its own credibility by apologizing for something that was true. It is bizarre and was absolutely unnecessary.

Pamela Geller is correct that the major media are “failing us.” It’s terribly tragic that at a time when we were depending on one channel, Fox, to tell the truth, it has failed us, too.