WASHINGTON, DC —Accuracy in Media (AIM) today hailed the release of Fox News journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig and said the case demonstrates the danger of left-wing websites targeting the channel for an alleged “pro-American” slant in Middle East reporting.
“The Fox News Channel has been the subject of pathological hatred among members of the left-wing political community in the U.S. who distribute their anti-American diatribes around the globe,” said AIM editor Cliff Kincaid. “That vitriol played no small role in the kidnapping of Centanni and Wiig and was a threat to their very lives. Thank God they have now been freed from the clutches of their radical Islamic captors.”
Centanni and Wiig, who were abducted by terrorists pointing guns at their heads, were held for 13 days. They were forced to record a videotape asking for their freedom that was aired by Al-Jazeera, the terrorist propaganda channel, and their captors had demanded the release of Muslim prisoners in the U.S. in exchange for the journalists’ freedom. Centanni and Wiig were forced at gunpoint to record another videotape saying they had converted to Islam.
In a column written before the journalists were released, Kincaid strongly criticized popular left-wing writer Mike Whitney for an article that served to justify the kidnapping. The Whitney column, “Are Fox News Employees Really ‘Noncombatants?,’” was circulated around the world on the Internet and claimed that the Fox News journalists were part of the American “war machine.” Whitney said it was not his intention to put their lives in jeopardy. However, after Kincaid questioned Whitney about the column and then denounced it, the Whitney piece was withdrawn from the Information Clearing House website “at the request of the author.” It is still available on several other websites, including one that presents itself as a source of news from “occupied Iraq.”
“Articles of this nature are read by enemies of the U.S. and inspire them to commit anti-American terrorist actions,” said Kincaid. “What made the Whitney column even more objectionable is that it appeared at a time when Centannni and Wiig were actually in the hands of the terrorists and their lives were literally hanging in the balance.”
Whitney, a former official of the Snohomish (Washington) County Democratic Party, had previously written a column calling for a terrorist victory in Iraq. After being questioned about this by AIM’s Kincaid, Whitney sent an email saying, “I do not want to see my country defeated in Iraq, I spoke in haste and rage. I do want to see a complete and immediate withdrawal. The article you mention caused great difficulty for people I love and respect, (as well as people in the antiwar movement) It was irresponsible and stupid.”
However, this column, “Why America Needs to Be Defeated in Iraq,” is still available on the Internet and has not been withdrawn at the request of the author.
Accuracy in Media (AIM) is a non-profit, grassroots citizens’ watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage.
To schedule an interview with AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid, contact Sarah Schaerr Norton at (202) 364-4401 ext. 107 or Carisa E. Bergen at (202) 364-4401 ext. 110.