Accuracy in Media

THE MEDIA’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH OBAMA

Fred Barnes calls him “the hottest figure in American politics.” Peter LaBarbera says he is getting “Kennedy-esque treatment.” He was invited by Pastor Rick Warren to attend a conference against AIDS, where he was dubbed the “Elvis” of Washington, D.C.

There is no doubt that Senator Barack Hussein Obama, a black Democrat from Illinois, is being supported in an unprecedented way by media from Chicago to Washington, D.C. to New York, who want him to become the first black president of the United States. But if our media would take the time to analyze what he says, rather than roll out a red carpet for him wherever he goes, he might be exposed as an expert in political doubletalk.

AIDS is a good example. It’s easy to be against AIDS. But it takes political courage, which Obama doesn’t have, to question why $200 billion has been spent on the disease (and why promises for cures and vaccines have not been fulfilled) and why other health problems affecting many more people get shortchanged for federal funds through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Fair Foundation has documented how the NIH finances AIDS research with tens of billions of dollars more than a variety of health problems that affect millions more people, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and heart ailments.

The adulation bestowed on Obama by the national media has become almost too much to take. No matter what he says, it is presented as dramatic and inspiring. If anybody ever needed any more evidence of a national liberal media bias, this was it.

The Media Campaign

The October 23, 2006 issue of Time magazine ran a cover story with Obama’s picture and the headline, “Why Barack Obama Could Be The Next President.” In another edition, Time magazine named Obama one of “the world’s most influential people,” and included him on a list of 20 “Leaders and Revolutionaries.” What’s behind the media hype?

The first thing that must be said is that, true to form, reporters are acting like Democrats, which they probably are. After Obama won the Democratic nomination for Senator in 2004, one of Obama’s opponents in the primary, Illinois’ Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, called him “The Tiger Woods of the Democratic Party.” The love affair for Obama even extends to the senior Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, who started an online petition urging Obama to run for president. It is posted on Durbin’s website. Like a schoolgirl with a crush, Durbin starts his “Run, Barack, Run!” message with “As many of you may know, I’m a huge Barack Obama fan.” But having Durbin in his camp may not be the best thing going. After all, Durbin was forced to apologize for smearing U.S. personnel as murderers and torturers. Perhaps his judgment on Obama is similarly flawed.

Together, the Democrats and their media allies have created a kind of hysteria.

A recent Associated Press story awarded Obama “rock star-like status” after his meeting with former Pepsi spokesman and rapper/actor Ludacris. The two actually have a lot in common, as both have won Grammy Awards. Obama won the Grammy in 2006 for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio book version of his autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.

But even with the media’s and Democratic Party’s infatuation with Obama, shouldn’t the future leader of the free world and president of the most powerful nation on Earth have a little more experience than being a freshman Senator from Illinois and a Grammy winner? The U.S. has elected very few people directly from the Senate to the White House; most recently John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was a decorated World War II veteran, a three-term U.S. Congressman, and was serving in his second term in the Senate when he was elected in 1960. By the 2008 election, Obama would not even have finished his first term as a Senator.

The Record

Here’s what is in the public record: Prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate, Obama served seven years in the Illinois state Senate, made an unsuccessful campaign for the House of Representatives seat in 2000 (losing the Democratic primary to a former Black Panther), and wrote an autobiography, a book about his political positions, and a children’s book.

Obama himself admits lying about his own past, including his drug use, but that didn’t become a scandal. Bernard Schoenburg of the Illinois State Journal-Register said that when he asked Obama about his drug use, the politician admitted to marijuana and nothing else. Then Schoenburg read his autobiography and discovered that Obama had also admitted to using some “blow” or cocaine. Schoenburg reported that Obama “apologized for not telling me earlier about his past as portrayed in the book. He said I had caught him off guard with the drug question and that, at the time, he had not wanted to overshadow his story of that day?his endorsement by the Illinois Federation of Teachers.”

This kind of spin is forgiven in the case of Obama because so many in the media not only wanted him to be elected as Senator but want to lay the groundwork for his possible run for the presidency. They are prepared to overlook his state legislative record, including votes in favor of partial birth abortion and against prohibition of infanticide, or “live birth” abortions, because, in the words of Newsweek, “he is the first African-American male Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate.”

Some say that Obama is a charismatic speaker; others disagree, saying he comes across as flat. He did receive praise for his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention even before becoming a U.S. Senator. But that praise came mostly from Democrats.

We do know that he has many star-studded supporters, including actor George Clooney, who appears on the Senator’s website while Obama speaks “about the crisis in Darfur.”

It appears that Obama wants to save the poor people in Darfur from a tyrannical Islamic regime in the Sudan. But does the Senator want to save the people of Iraq from a similar fate?

Saving Darfur, Not Iraq

We went back and analyzed his major speeches on Iraq, as well as a statement he made on the situation there. It suggests that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. 

His November 20, 2006, speech, “A Way Forward in Iraq,” began, “Throughout American history, there have been moments that call on us to meet the challenges of an uncertain world, and pay whatever price is required to secure our freedom.” Yet Obama was not talking about Iraq. Instead, he called the U.S. policy of promoting democracy in Iraq and the Middle East an “ideological fantasy.”

Having said that he opposed the war in the first place, he now favors “a phased redeployment of American troops from Iraqi soil.” But he doesn’t provide any details. In fact, he voted against the Kerry amendment to require a redeployment of troops from Iraq. So he wants to have it both ways.

“Let me emphasize one vital point,” Obama says, “any U.S. strategy must address the problem of sectarian militias in Iraq.” But he provides no details.

In a November 22, 2005, speech, he talked about meeting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “They were proud of their service,” Obama said. He said he  spoke to a sergeant from Iowa “who had lost one of his legs but was working vigorously to get accustomed to his prosthetic leg so he could return to Iraq as soon as he could.”

But Obama is tired of the fight. While he admitted that he has “neither the expertise nor the inclination to micro-manage war from Washington,” he said he wanted to “reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq.” He also called this “a limited drawdown of U.S. troops.” He had wanted this “drawdown” to begin by 2006. Now he wants the “drawdown” in 2007.

Next week he may have a different position. But don’t expect the media to notice.

Another one of his deceptive utterances, in his memoir The Audacity of Hope, is that it is his “obligation” as a Christian to consider supporting homosexual marriage, a concept and behavior rejected out of hand in the New Testament of the Bible.

 

TERROR TV IN ENGLISH

If Al-Jazeera English had wanted to impress people with its first week or so of programming, including a David Frost interview with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, it failed. The channel was very quick out of the chute in airing a terrorist video, featuring an “inside” look at the Islamic Army of Iraq, and it misrepresented the Blair interview in order to create the impression that U.S. policy in Iraq and not Al-Jazeera’s terrorist friends was producing a bloodbath. Simply stated, Al-Jazeera English looks a lot like Al-Jazeera Arabic, known for its pro-terrorist and anti-American programming. Frankly, we thought that it would keep the radical stories in the closet for weeks or months until the channel got carriage in the U.S. media market. Those U.S. cable and satellite systems which decided not to air the channel have been vindicated. The American people thank them.

Those who doubt the vicious nature of the Al-Jazeera brand of “journalism” should examine the remarks delivered by Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County, California, on November 19, where he called it “today’s greatest recruiter for terrorism.” He explained, “They are pouring gasoline…for lunatics running around with lit matchsticks. It’s an advocate for terrorism.” Daniel Pearl was abducted and beheaded by al-Qaeda terrorists, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the main architect of 9/11, who was later captured, held and interrogated by the CIA in a counter-terrorism program that Dana Priest of the Washington Post did her best to expose and discredit. Because of the exposure, Mohammed has been transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison, where he will be given legal counsel and all of the “rights” that he denied to Daniel Pearl and almost 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

Richard Chang, the Orange County Register reporter who covered Dr. Pearl’s remarks, thought it was his obligation to go to the defense of the channel. He wrote, in regard to Pearl’s criticism of Al-Jazeera, “While that charge is common among Western critics, other observers say the argument that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism is false. Hugh Miles, author of Al-Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel that is Challenging the West, wrote in the July/August issue of Foreign Policy Magazine that ‘the network has never supported violence against the United States’ and ‘not once have its correspondents praised attacks on coalition forces in Iraq.'”

Bad Journalism

Chang ignored the fact that Al-Jazeera has been banned from Iraq because of its role in promoting violence and civil war. It has been a consistent mouthpiece for Sunni terrorists in al Qaeda and, more recently, the Islamic Army of Iraq. Indeed, on November 20, Al-Jazeera English posted the transcript of a story it carried by a correspondent, Hoda Abdel-Hamid, who apparently traveled with the Islamic Army of Iraq in order to provide the “inside” story of “its campaign against U.S. troops.” Abdel-Hamid reported on new recruits training on the outskirts of Baghdad and obtained an “exclusive” interview with the group’s spokesman, Ibrahim al-Shamary, who declared, “The fighters sacrifice their lives to protect the people.” The report was terrorist propaganda from start to finish.

In regard to Dr. Pearl’s specific charge that Al-Jazeera recruits terrorists, there is abundant evidence. Our DVD on “Terror Television” shows captured terrorists in Iraq saying they came to kill Americans because of the words and images on Al-Jazeera. In a subsequent letter to the editor of the Orange County Register, Dr. Pearl noted that an Al-Jazeera television personality, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, “was the first to give religious license to suicide bombers in Israel and Iraq and still defends those licenses on his ‘Sharia Alive’ program.”

Reporter Chang quoted from the Hugh Miles book but he ignored the section on Tayseer Alouni, the former Kabul, Afghanistan bureau chief now serving a seven-year prison sentence in Spain for being an al-Qaeda agent linked to the 9/11 plot. As we note in our DVD, Miles says in his book, published before Alouni was actually convicted and sentenced, that if the Spanish judge in the case was right that Alouni indeed was “an al-Qaeda mole” then his reporting “might have been the voice of al Qaeda.”

Miles added, “If al Qaeda had penetrated Al-Jazeera at such a senior level, it would be a serious blow to the channel.” Al-Jazeera, he said, was paying Alouni’s salary, legal fees and “related expenses” during his trial. It continues to defend him.

But rather than being a serious blow, Al-Jazeera has expanded, from Arabic to English, thanks to the generous petrodollars provided by the Emir of Qatar, whose largesse has landed such luminaries as Dave Marash, formerly of ABC’s Nightline, and David Frost, formerly of the BBC.

Qatar is a Sunni-run Arab dictatorship that claims to be a friend of the U.S. and committed to democratic “reforms.” It is the same kind of double-talk we saw from Saudi Arabia, another so-called friend of the U.S., before 9/11 exposed Saudi financing of a terrorist underground that produced most of the terrorist hijackers.

Distorting The Blair Interview

It was Frost who generated headlines for the launch of Al-Jazeera English by landing an interview with British Prime Minister Blair. The story carried by the English-language website of Al-Jazeera was headlined, “Blair admits Iraq a ‘disaster.'” It claimed that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had “admitted in an interview with Al-Jazeera English that events in Iraq since the US-led invasion have been a ‘disaster.'” In fact, Blair never uttered the word “disaster” in the interview, and he didn’t blame the “US-led invasion” for the carnage. He put the blame squarely where it belongs?on the terrorists themselves.

Putting Words In Blair’s Mouth

The word “disaster” was uttered by the interviewer, David Frost, who tried to get Blair to agree with his characterization of what was happening in Iraq. According to the official Al-Jazeera transcript of the interview, Frost said to Blair that “so far it’s been…you know, pretty much of a disaster…”

Blair responded, “it has,” in acknowledging the question, but quickly went on to say that the problems were being caused not by U.S. and British forces, which are trying to protect the country’s fragile democracy, but by the terrorists. Blair said “it’s not been difficult because of some accident in planning, it’s difficult because there is a deliberate strategy, al Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on the one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militia on the other, to create a situation in which the will of the majority of Iraqis, which is for peace, is displaced by the will of the minority for war.” Those same terrorists have the ear of Al-Jazeera, which serves as their mouthpiece.

So rather than blasting U.S. or British policy for the “disaster,” Blair was putting the blame on the Sunni terrorists?the same ones glorified by Al-Jazeera?for creating chaos in the country and inviting retaliatory violence. The Islamic Army of Iraq is composed mostly of former Saddam Hussein intelligence and army officers who resent the destruction of the dictatorship that kept them in power.

Asked by Frost about the death and destruction in Iraq, the transcript shows that Blair responded by saying that “…the alternative was leaving Saddam in charge of Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of people died, there were a million casualties in the Iran/Iraq war, Kuwait was invaded and four million people went into exile. So the idea that Iraqis should be faced with the situation where they either have a brutal dictator in Saddam or alternatively a sectarian religious conflict, why can’t they have in Iraq what their people want? Which is a non-sectarian government, a government that is elected by the people and the same opportunities and the same rights that we enjoy in countries such as this.”

Curiously, these important remarks were left out of the Al-Jazeera English story posted on the channel’s website. Instead, the channel consulted Marwan Qabalan, a political analyst from the University of Damascus in Syria, for comments on how Blair’s remarks were full of “contradictions.”

The only real contradiction is how Al-Jazeera, Arabic or English, can continue to maintain the facade that it is a legitimate “news” organization.

Disinformation

Blaming the current bloodshed on the liberation of Iraq is a falsehood that is parroted not only by Al-Jazeera English but several commentators in the U.S. media, such as Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, who claims that the Bush team failed to comprehend “that in the Arab world, revenge and religious zealotry can be stronger compulsions than democracy and prosperity.” With that comment, she diminishes the courage and strength of the millions of Iraqi people who turned out to vote for democracy in free and fair elections.

The fact remains: it is a tiny minority, egged on by Al-Jazeera and outside regimes in Syria and Iran, that has put the new democratic government in Iraq in peril.

AIM believes that the U.S. Government should immediately undertake a federal review of Al-Jazeera’s business operations in the U.S. to determine if the channel represents a “global terrorist entity” which constitutes a national security threat to the U.S.

AIM Resources

AIM’s new internship program, the American Journalism Center, helps young conservative journalists hone their reporting skills. For more information or to make a donation to this worthy cause, visit www.aimajc.org.

ShopAIM.org has books, bumper stickers, t-shirts and more, all at great prices. Two of our most popular items are our “Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope” and “Terror Television: The Rise of Al-Jazeera and the Hate-America Media” docu-mentaries. Have you visited the AIM store lately?




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