Accuracy in Media

Ms. Petula Dvorak’s Washington Post story about the September 24 “anti-war” rally used a strategy that has been employed in the past by reporters anxious to avoid any mention of how communists run these events. She decided to focus on the dupes in the crowd. Dvorak reported, “The demonstration drew grandmothers in wheelchairs and babies in strollers, military veterans in fatigues and protest veterans in tie-dye.”

AIM covered the event and posted photographs of some of the communist banners and signs on our website.

Even the Washington Post’s media reporter, Howard Kurtz, admitted after the fact the press did a “poor job” of describing the communists behind the demonstration. But it was worse than poor. It was deliberate deception. 

Imagine what the reaction of the media would be if it had been discovered that the Ku Klux Klan had played a key role in putting on a pro-war demonstration in the nation’s capital. Do you think reporters would ignore that evidence? Or would they jump on it, doing stories and follow-up stories about how this came about, who was responsible, and whether it would ever happen again?

Deception

On the matter of who was actually in charge of the rally, a simple Google search could have uncovered information showing the connection between International ANSWER, the main march organizer, and the communist Workers World Party. The media deliberately ignored this information because there was an obvious effort to keep the American people in the dark about the nature of the “anti-war” movement. 

By its own admission, ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) paid the full costs of the stage, sound and setup at the rally. The group’s leaders, including Brian Becker, come out of the Workers World Party. This is a group so extreme in its adulation for anti-American dictators that honest liberals like David Corn of The Nation magazine have recoiled in dismay over how many people on the left associate with them.

The immediate aim is to defeat the U.S. in Iraq by creating the impression that the American people are tired of the war and want to withdraw U.S. troops.

Some would argue that it’s a sign of America’s strength that we permit communists to openly demonstrate on U.S. soil against American policies. But it’s a sign of the weakness and corruption of our media that the key role being played by the communists is being carefully concealed from the American people.

A newspaper with an honest editorial page, Investor’s Business Daily, declared that the role of the Workers World Party was an absolutely critical fact. The paper said, “ANSWER is a front group for the Stalinist Workers World Party. And any group that qualifies for that epithet in front of its name deserves special scrutiny, since Josef Stalin was responsible for the murder of as many as 25 million human beings.”

We had wondered what the reaction of the press would have been if the KKK had organized a Washington rally. Investor’s Business Daily brought up another scenario and said, “Imagine for a moment it was a different group that sponsored the demonstration?say, a neo-Nazi group. Think The Washington Post and other media would report that? You bet they would. After all, Adolf Hitler and his thugs were some of the worst mass murderers of all time. We would expect?no, demand?media to report that a demonstration attended by hundreds of middle class moms, concerned fathers and pacifist students was in fact organized by Brownshirts.”

The paper asked, “So why do communists?particularly those who march under Stalin’s flag?get different treatment? And why do thousands of average people feel comfortable marching arm in arm with them?”

Speaking of the Post, the paper never published a letter from John J. Tierney countering a Post “news” article about his views on the “anti-war” movement.

Censoring The Truth

The Post story by Dana Milbank and Alan Cooperman ridiculed Tierney, author of The Politics of Peace, for “seeing red” and allegedly telling a Heritage Foundation event that anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan was an “anti-American communist.” Tierney told AIM that he never made such a charge. His book is published by the Capital Research Center.

His never-published letter said this:

“Your August 31 article ‘Conservative Author Is Seeing Red in America’ both simplifies and distorts my message about anti-American organizations attempting to co-opt the peace movement. I never accused Cindy Sheehan or any individual anti-war activist of being a ‘communist.’ My point was that several core groups masquerade as ‘peace’ activists but are, in fact, rooted in and driven by extreme, leftist ideologies, some including standard communistic socio/economic interpretations. My message to peace activists was a straightforward heads-up about the anti-American wolves who have donned doves’ clothing.”

So the Post lied about Tierney. And it refused to expose the wolves.

Anti-American Bent

Anybody who listened to Becker and many of the other speakers couldn’t help but notice the rhetoric denouncing imperialism. This was Marxism openly on display.

Speakers depicted the U.S. and Israel as the main enemies. The heroes were Hugo Chavez, the anti-American ruler of Venezuela, and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. But reporters for the liberal papers decided to ignore these speeches in order to emphasize so-called average folks who showed up. The Post, for example, focused on a Catholic Sister named Maureen Metty, attending her first-ever political rally.

Sister Metty should have been asked what the late Pope John Paul II would have thought about a Catholic nun participating in a pro-communist rally when he had played such a key role in bringing about the fall of Soviet-style communism.    

The veil came off when one of the leaders of the WWP and ANSWER posted an article urging “solidarity” with the “Iraqi fighters” and “resistance” killing American troops and innocent civilians in Iraq. The article, “Iraqi resistance earns world’s respect,” was posted on the website of the Workers World Party (WWP) and is written by John Catalinotto, a WWP veteran who also represents International ANSWER, the WWP front organizing and sponsoring the protest.

The Catalinotto article stated that it is appropriate “that the U.S. anti-war movement, especially the serious opponents of imperialism, think of the Iraqi resistance as an important ally?The duty of the movement here is to join the struggle to make the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq impossible and to do this in solidarity with the Iraqi sisters and brothers who have stopped the empire in its tracks.”

We were tipped off about the article by Herbert Romerstein, a former government investigator into communist strategy and tactics who produced a 1974 congressional study, “The Workers World Party and its Front Organizations,” examining how the organization manipulated innocent people into supporting communist regimes and Arab terrorism. Romerstein said that the Catalinotto article reveals the real intentions of the protest organizers. “They’ve finally come out in the open,” he said. “They’ve pretended to be for peace. But they’re really a solidarity group for Al-Qaeda and the terrorists in Iraq. The Marxist-Leninists and the Islamic fundamentalists are now allied against the United States.”

Another Dishonest Performance

The dishonesty of our media was also on display at the New York Times, which ran a story by Michael Janofsky referring to the main sponsor of the rally, the ANSWER Coalition, as representing “a wide range of progressive political objectives?” This is comparable to saying that V.I. Lenin was a liberal activist.

In fact, AIM editor Cliff Kincaid picked up a copy of the “selected writings” of Lenin on “National Liberation, Socialism and Imperialism” at the rally. It was available at the literature table of the Workers World Party.

Feeding The Press

AIM editor Kincaid also attended a news conference in Washington on September 1 that outlined the plans for the September 24 protest. He witnessed how the radical operatives carefully attended to the needs of the press, offering special access, interviews and information.

Reporters for major media, including the Post and Times, were singled out on a first-name basis.

One target was Elizabeth White, a writer for Associated Press, a national news service. She produced exactly what the ANSWER crowd wanted. Her story, which circulated nationally and was so sympathetic to the protest that it was distributed by ANSWER to its own email list, did not contain any hint that there was anything controversial about the rally or its organizers.

This is how the communists manipulate our press. That it happens time after time demonstrates the problem we face as a nation as we struggle with a menace, fanatical Islam, more insidious than the international communist movement.

USA TODAY SHOULD APOLOGIZE TOMORROW

On the August 17 edition of the C-SPAN program “Q&A,” host Brian Lamb interviewed Ken Paulson, editor of USA Today, about the challenges and problems faced by the paper. Lamb brought up something that Paulson would rather ignore or forget. He was asked about AIM’s critique of the paper over its failure to acknowledge wrong-doing in the Memogate scandal and apologize. It turns out that USA Today got the same bogus documents and ran the same kind of phony story attempting to discredit President Bush’s National Guard service. But while CBS paid the price, in terms of embarrassment, humiliation and firings, USA Today still acts like it has not been implicated in the scandal.

The entire transcript of the interview can be found at: http://qanda.org/Transcript/?ProgramID=1038. Here’s the transcript of the exchange over AIM, USA Today and Memogate:

Lamb:

Cliff Kincaid, who now runs Accuracy in the Media, came after you in a meeting, one of your stockholders’ meetings, about the Memogate, they call it. Why did you find yourself running the same memos that CBS did over George Bush’s National Guard time?

Paulson:

Well, it’s important to understand what happened and what didn’t happen. And Mr. Kincaid is entitled, as always, to his opinion. He has a unique point of view. What happened there is that “60 Minutes” had been working on this story for some time. And I’m sure you’ve seen the coverage and the report. “USA Today” had no plans to cover that story or to write that story. And I think that’s a misimpression Mr. Kincaid had in his criticism. We were like everybody else, every other news organization in that we got wind that “60 Minutes” had a big story that night, and lo and behold, they’re on the air.

They have an exclusive no one else has. They tell us they tell the American people they vetted it, they have researched it. They have experts who say these documents are absolutely authentic.

And what do you do in a newsroom? Well, you say, they got us, they win, they scooped us. How do we catch up? How can we put something in our paper tomorrow that moves the story forward? And that’s all that happened.

In our case, we actually had reporters who had a pretty good sense of where the information came from with “60 Minutes.” It was a source that we knew and we had been talking to that we hoped would shed light on things for us.

That source was then able to give us the same documents that they gave to “60 Minutes.” And so that proved to be the most worthless acquisition in our history because at the same time this source is giving us the documents they have given to “60 Minutes,” the White House is releasing the same documents to the entire press corps. So the next morning we had what everybody else had. We had a story that said that “60 Minutes” had alleged that President Bush had gotten preferential treatment. We had a story that said these documents seem to support that claim.

We had a response from the White House which we had gotten the night before. The White House was asked, is there any reason to doubt the credibility of these documents? And they said, we’re not challenging the credibility of these documents, they were just old news. They’re tired. We’ve heard all this before.

In some ways, that’s a confirmation of the content when you talk about it as old news and history. And our stories were strikingly similar. You look at coverage of every major newspaper in this country the next day, no one had doubts about those documents. Where “USA Today” erred, and I think it was a matter of tone, is that our reporters publishing this story were kind of proud of the fact that they had identified “60 Minutes'” source and gotten the documents from that source rather than the White House, no factual import or impact at all.

And yet they felt the need to say, “‘USA Today’ has obtained these documents.” It was?it had the tone of bravado. What made our stories different the day after from everybody else’s was not the facts, it was the tone.

We were a little bit too proud of being I think what they thought, they were second, and that was really unfortunate. And so what happened after that? We, the minute we heard any doubts about the integrity of the documents, we do what we always do. If you get it wrong in any way, you work very hard to get it right very quickly.

And we assigned a team of reporters to look into the documents, to look into the source. In some cases, in some ways, the fact that we had actually had a relationship with that source cut in our benefit because we got information nobody else had.

And the following, I guess, about five days later, while “60 Minutes” was still saying, we defend this record, we defend our story, we published stories actually throughout that week, saying, we have assigned a team of specialists, we hired experts, we reported very quickly that they believe that the documents were fabricated.

We did a special report explaining our involvement in it, a chronology of our participation. We told the entire back-story that most people didn’t know about, how the source got involved, what deals he cut with “60 Minutes.”

And we revealed a story that nobody else had, which was that “60 Minutes” had gone to the Kerry campaign on behalf of this source, and they had that connection. All you can do when you get it wrong is to apply as good a journalism as you possibly can and get it right.

It was not our finest hour, but I think most people give us credit for rebounding and publishing the kind of report that Americans need to read.

The AIM Response

Let us comment on Paulson’s answer.

Paulson says that, “we actually had reporters who had a pretty good sense of where the information came from with ’60 Minutes.’ It was a source that we knew and we had been talking to that we hoped would shed light on things for us.”

FACT: The “source” was the discredited Bill Burkett, the same “source” used by CBS. Burkett would later admit he lied about where he got the documents.

Paulson admits that “?we had actually had a relationship with that source [and that] cut in our benefit because we got information nobody else had.”

FACT: The paper had a relationship with an unreliable source. This isn’t something to be proud of.

Paulson says the reaction in his newsroom to the 60 Minutes story was, “How do we catch up? How can we put something in our paper tomorrow that moves the story forward? And that’s all that happened.”

FACT: USA Today reporters had been in contact with Burkett for years. He was considered trustworthy by USA Today. And that’s part of the scandal.  

Paulson says that, “our reporters publishing this story were kind of proud of the fact that they had identified ’60 Minutes’ source and gotten the documents from that source rather than the White House.”

FACT: Again, there’s nothing to be proud of. The source was the discredited Bill Burkett.

Paulson says that, “?at the same time this source is giving us the documents they have given to ’60 Minutes,’ the White House is releasing the same documents to the entire press corps.”

FACT: This is true but irrelevant. The White House was only releasing the documents that it had been given by CBS, which got them from Burkett. The White House was given only a couple hours to review them and had not come to any determination whether they were real or not. So it released them to the press to avoid charges it was trying to cover-up anything.

Paulson says that about five days later, while “60 Minutes” was still defending the story, “we published stories actually throughout that week, saying, we have assigned a team of specialists, we hired experts, we reported very quickly that they believe that the documents were fabricated.”

FACT: USA Today should never have publicized the phony documents to begin with. It waited too long to do the research debunking them. That research should have been done before running any stories publicizing the phony documents. 

Paulson says that, “We did a special report explaining our involvement in it, a chronology of our participation. We told the entire back-story that most people didn’t know about, how the source got involved, what deals he cut with ’60 Minutes.'”

FACT: The paper still has not apologized for running a story based on the phony documents. The bad performance is made worse by the failure to apologize. Because CBS made the error first, many people are still not aware that USA Today made the same mistake but continues to stonewall. While CBS apologized, USA Today did not. And that’s what AIM was asking for at the annual meeting of Gannett, parent company of USA Today, earlier this year. We are still waiting.

What You Can Do

Send the enclosed cards or cards and letters of your own choosing to Kenneth Tomlinson of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Kevin Martin of the FCC, and Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post.




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