Fox News has run repeated segments attacking some progressive media figures and politicians for suggesting that political rhetoric from the right inspired the recent tragic shootings in Arizona. In doing so, Fox has whitewashed right-wing media figures who have attempted to describe Loughner as a liberal and pin the shooting on "the left."
As details about the tragic shooting in Arizona came to light, members of the right-wing media quickly used the fact that Hitler's Mein Kampf was listed as one of Jared Loughner's favorite books as evidence that his politics are "left wing." This characterization coincides with years of effort by Fox News personalities to tie the fascist Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler to progressivism.
On October 5, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein claimed that Obama campaign technology adviser Lawrence Lessig and the group he founded, Creative Commons, "distributed" and "mass marketed" videos by Al Jazeera of "Israel's December 2008 war in Gaza targeting Hamas." But Lessig says that characterization is inaccurate.
Lessig told Media Matters that Klein mischaracterized what Creative Commons does. It is a nonprofit licensing organization that establishes rights and offers legal tools to help protect creative work on the Internet under a form of copyright protection. A typical Creative Commons license allows others to legally share, use, repurpose, and remix the work of others as long as credit is given to the original creator.
"We have nothing to do with hosting or the selection of the content," Lessig said.
Klein claimed that Creative Commons "launched a massive repository of broadcast-quality video footage, working with Al Jazeera to make the Arab network's video footage available for free downloading." That's not true, Lessig said; Creative Commons does not host video by Al Jazeera or anyone else. Al Jazeera video available under the Creative Commons license resides on the Al Jazeera website.
Lessig said there were no special dealings with Al Jazeera for it to obtain a Creative Commons license. He had spoken at a Internet conference in Qatar, he said, and that's where Al Jazeera became aware of Creative Commons licenses.
"There's no negotiation," Lessig said. "You just come to our website and take the license."
Klein claimed that "During the time it worked with Lessig's group, Al Jazeera said its online broadcasts increased by over 500 percent, while views of videos on its YouTube channel increased by more than 150 percent." But the January 2009 New York Times article from which Klein took the claim did not attribute the increase directly to working with Creative Commons, instead stating that they came in the wake of the 2008 Gaza conflict. The Times had separately noted that "Al Jazeera planned to announce this week that all its video material of the war in Gaza would become available under a lenient Creative Commons license, which effectively means it can be used by anyone -- rival broadcaster, documentary maker, individual blogger -- as long as Al Jazeera is credited."
It's more than a month until Election Day, but it seems conservatives are already scraping the bottom of the barrel for baseless attacks on Democratic Delaware Senate candidate Chris Coons.
First up is Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator. Lord -- who we last saw trying to parse whether Shirley Sherrod was "lying" about a relative being lynched because only two people were involved in the act, a position so ridiculous that even his fellow Spectator writers wouldn't back him up -- attacked Coons' work as a college student with the South African Council of Churches. Why? Because Coons was "emerging as a leftist," and thus "decided he had some sort of obvious attraction to the work of SACC," which "support[ed] Black Liberation Theology." Things get tangential from here, as Lord plays Six Degrees of Black Liberation Theology (with a brief stop at Rev. Jeremiah Wright) to depict the SACC has having "pro-Marxist, pro-socialist, anti-capitalist views." Lord proclaimed, "Now, the liberation theology chickens that Chris Coons was supporting in Africa have come home to roost in America."
Lord overlooks a few things. Like: What is the one thing people think of when they think of South Africa in the 1980s? Apartheid. And what was one of the leading groups fighting apartheid in that country? The South African Council of Churches. Bishop Desmond Tutu, a prominent anti-apartheid leader and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a former secretary-general of SACC, and Nelson Mandela praised the group as being among those who "resisted racial bigotry and held out a vision of a different, transformed South Africa."
Isn't it more logical that Coons was attracted to working for the SACC over its anti-apartheid stance? Yep. Does Lord make that connection? Nope -- he's too invested in his convoluted conspiracy theory.
With the guest lineup of World Net Daily's Taking America Back 2010 national conference, it was no surprise that birtherism and bigotry were prevalent throughout the convention. After all, WND's Joseph Farah and Jerome Corsi are perhaps most (in)famous for their repeated birther attacks against President Obama.
Displaying shocking ignorance of his own publication, Farah kicked off WND's first national convention by asking if "anyone at WorldNetDaily ever asserted" that President Obama "is foreign-born." We can. It turns out that one of WND's commentators, Craige McMillan, has referred to President Obama as an "illegal alien" in at least three separate posts on WorldNetDaily's website. Despite Farah's suggestion that WorldNetDaily held itself above the tired questions about President Obama's citizenship, Jerome Corsi was quick to jump on the case.
Questioning the president's citizenship, and thus his eligibility as president, was not the only way speakers at WND's convention attacked Obama. Speaker after speaker attacked Obama's faith as a Christian. Jerome Corsi alternatively claimed that Obama "doesn't believe in God" and that he's a Muslim, Floyd Brown claimed that Obama "hates Christianity" and "is a Muslim," while Aaron Klein said that the president "has a certain affinity toward Islam."
Other attacks against Obama included the zombie lie that Obama supported "infanticide" and an absurd demand by Corsi that Obama "come out and renounce Lucifer." Floyd Brown also stated that the "most important step" for the next session of Congress is to impeach President Obama.
Anti-gay bigotry was also out in force at the Taking America Back convention. WorldNetDaily founder, editor, and CEO Joseph Farah suggested gay marriage would lead to "sexual anarchy" and claimed that opposing gay marriage was akin to opposing "sexual offenses" such as "polygamy, incest, statutory rape, child pornography, molestation, [and] prostitution." Noted anti-gay bigot Robert Knight similarly compared a gay marriage ban to bans on polygamy and incest. However, Jerome Corsi refused to be outdone in this vein, going so far as to link same-sex marriage to pedophilia and bestiality.*
Speakers at the convention were also, to put it mildly, displeased with Imam Rauf's proposal to build an Islamic community center in Manhattan to serve an existing Muslim community as a place for worship and community. After nine months of right-wing anti-Muslim bigotry and incidents of violence against mosque sites nationwide, WND's speakers decided to rachet up the rhetoric against the Islamic community center by declaring that its intention is to promote further attacks by Muslims against America. Aaron Klein flatly stated that "the individuals behind" the Islamic community center in Manhattan don't "have peaceful intentions." As well, WND speaker William Murray said that the purpose of the community center is to host "raiders" to "do even more damage" in America.
Just how does WorldNetDaily plan to top all of this with its next national convention?
From WND's Taking America Back 2010 convention in Miami, FL:
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From WND's Taking America Back 2010 convention in Miami, FL:
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From WND's Taking America Back 2010 convention in Miami, FL:
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As noted earlier, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein is getting a lot of attention for using his radio show to get a member of Hamas to express support for building an Islamic community center near Ground Zero.
This isn't actually news, of course -- is anyone surprised that Hamas would support such a thing? Hamas' status as a terrorist group notwithstanding, the Hamas official's statement that Muslims should build mosques is utterly non-controversial, just as it would be if it were a Jewish person talking about building synagogues or a Christian talking about building churches.
The real news here is the resurfacing of Aaron Klein's media strategy of using terrorists' words against his political enemies.
This is far from the first time Klein has made use of terrorists. Most notably, he did so during the 2008 presidential election, when, during an appearance on John Batchelor's radio show, he interviewed a Hamas official who "endorsed" Barack Obama as president. His 2007 book Schmoozing With Terrorists is entirely devoted to what terrorists have told him about "who they want to see in the White House, their thoughts on big name American celebrities, what day-to-day life would be like if the global jihad took over the U.S., and why terrorists kill and maim."
Because what terrorists have to say is mostly predictable, they have become a cog in Klein's mighty little Wurlitzer of sources he uses to push his right-wing, anti-Obama agenda. It's nothing but a cynical gimmick for Klein.
The dark side of Klein's strategy is that it depends on terrorists being so stupid that they never figure out that Klein is using their words to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment in the right-wing media and advance his own anti-liberal, anti-Muslim agenda. That's dangerous, if not outright stupid on its own. Does Klein really think they won't catch on to his game?
The right-wing media have found yet another way to keep their controversy surrounding a Manhattan Islamic center front and center -- by loudly trumpeting Hamas' apparent endorsement of the proposed mosque and thereby showing that the terrorist organization is on the same side as President Obama (the secret Muslim who -- as Pam Geller put it -- "has, in effect, sided with Islamic jihadists.")
In an interview aired Sunday on talk radio, Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar reportedly said that Muslims "have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy places." Zahar continued: "We have to build everywhere."
Predictably, conservative media quickly seized on the news: the New York Post -- "Hamas big backs mosque"; the Drudge Report -- "Mosque Mess Monday"; Fox Nation -- "Hamas Leader: Ground Zero Mosque must be built"; Atlas Shrugs' Pam Geller -- "Genocidal Hamas Backs Obama and Rauf on Ground Zero Mosque"; and, of course, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News' Glenn Beck.
But let's be clear: Hamas hardly "jumped" into the controversy, as the New York Post breathlessly claimed. It was cleverly dragged into it by none other than anti-Obama author Aaron Klein, the Jerusalem bureau chief of right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com -- the same website that has repeatedly suggested that Obama was born in Kenya and promoted a fraudulent Obama "Kenyan birth certificate." It was on Klein's WABC radio show that Zahar appeared.
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein called the Islamic Society of North America a "radical Muslim group." In fact, ISNA is a mainstream Islamic group whose president was among Muslim leaders who met with President Bush after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Aaron Klein's July 13 WorldNetDaily article carries the headline "Felonious assault on U.S. elections," so you'd think there would be something, you know, felonious being detailed. Instead, it's just another guilt-by-association smear job by WND's master of them.
Here's how Klein begins his article:
A federal bill that seeks to restore voting rights in national elections to felons released from prison previously was a pet project of the radical Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was briefed on state laws governing voting-rights restoration for former felons encountered during general voter-registration drives.
The information comes as a study released this week by Minnesota Majority, a watchdog group, found the six-month election recount that determined Al Franken won the Minnesota Senate seat may have been decided by convicted felons who voted illegally.
The bill Klein is referring to in the first paragraph is the Democracy Restoration Act (House version/Senate version), which indeed would do what Klein said it would. Why is that a problem? Klein never says -- he just plays guilt-by-association by irrelevantly claiming that it was a "pet project" of ACORN.
What does the Obama campaign being briefed on voting rights for felons have to do with this? Nothing. The campaign did nothing illegal, and even Klein doesn't claim otherwise. Again, it's guilt-by-association.
Last week, we detailed the lack of substance in WorldNetDaily reporter Aaron Klein's desperate guilt-by-association smear of Vartan Gregorian, a member of President Obama's Commission on White House Fellowships who in Klein's fevered mind is an Islamic extremist who is "closely tied to the Muslim leaders behind a proposed controversial Islamic cultural center to be built near the site of the 9/11 attacks" -- never mind that Gregorian is a universally respected scholar who formerly headed the New York Public Library and Brown University and who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush.
Any further attacks on Gregorian can only get more lame from there, and darn if Klein doesn't prove it.
Klein trotted out his latest guilt-by-association smear in a June 27 WND article: "Gregorian served on the selection committee of the Annenberg Foundation, which funded Ayers' Chicago Annenberg Challenge with a $49.2 million, 2-to-1 matching challenge grant over five years."
That's it. That's the substance of it.
But that statement appeared in the fifth paragraph of Klein's article. Because Klein isn't satisfied by substance, what you read before you come across that statement is inaccurate and unsubstantiated innuendo:
A scholar and charity head appointed to President Obama's White House Fellowships Commission served as a point man in granting $49.2 million in startup capital to an education-reform project founded by Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers and chaired by Obama.
Documentation shows the White House fellow, Vartan Gregorian, was central in Ayers' recruitment of Obama to serve as the first chairman of the project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge -- a job in which Obama worked closely on a regular basis with Ayers.
Obama also later touted his job at the project as qualifying him to run for public office, as WND previously reported.
The main claim Klein makes -- that Ayers recruited Obama to head the CAC -- is unsubstantiated. As we pointed out when Klein made the same claim in his book, The New York Times reported that, "according to several people involved," Ayers "played no role" in choosing Obama. Klein offers no evidence to contradict that claim.
Guilt by association is the stock-in-trade of WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein, as Media Matters has ably documented. Since that's what WorldNetDaily is paying him to do despite his shoddy reporting methods being repeatedly exposed, it's no surprise that he goes back to that smear well.
This time, Klein's target is Vartan Gregorian, the head of the Carnegie Corporation whom President Obama appointed in 2009 to the board of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships (he is not a White House Fellow himself, as Klein sloppily suggests).
So where does the smear come in? According to Klein, Gregorian is "closely tied to the Muslim leaders behind a proposed controversial Islamic cultural center to be built near the site of the 9/11 attacks." How so? Klein's primary piece of evidence is that Gregorian is on the board of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which, according to Klein, is "reportedly working" with the American Society for Muslim Advancement, "whose leaders are behind the mosque, to ensure the future museum will represent the voices of American Muslims."
That's "closely tied"? Really?
Here's a list of some of the other people Klein apparently believes are "closely tied" to the " 'Ground Zero' imam" through their similar involvement with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum:
Does Klein really believe that Republican politicians, actors, former presidents, and a 9/11 widow who works with Liz Cheney are part of some hugely vast Muslim-promoting conspiracy? It would appear so.
Within hours of news reports of a deadly incident involving the Israeli army and a flotilla bound for Gaza, Aaron Klein and Jim Hoft found a way to blame Obama for the controversial international incident: yelling "Bill Ayers."