Accuracy in Media

The left-wing critics of Fox News have seized on a memo from an official of the channel telling correspondents to be on the lookout for any statements from Iraqi terrorist groups thrilled by the Democratic takeover of the U.S. Congress. It turns out that al Qaeda in Iraq did issue a statement welcoming the Democratic victory. Isn’t this newsworthy? Shouldn’t news executives have been on the look-out for a blockbuster story like this?

An AP story by Christopher Bodeen and published on November 11 declared: “The head of al Qaeda’s Iraq operations yesterday gloated in a new audio tape over the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and praised U.S. voters for punishing President Bush and the Republicans in Tuesday’s midterm elections.”

The al-Qaeda official, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, said that “The American people have put their feet on the right path by…realizing their president’s betrayal in supporting Israel. So they voted for something reasonable in the last elections.”

Christopher Dickey of Newsweek reports, “We shouldn’t delude ourselves about the electrifying effect this process [of retreat from Iraq] will have on America-haters around the world. Already we’ve heard gloating from Tehran and the group Al Qaeda in Iraq. Somewhere in the hinterlands of Waziristan (if that’s where he is), Osama bin Laden and his boys are firing Kalashnikovs in the air. In the halal diners of British mill towns, wannabe jihadis are telling each other they really can change this world while blowing themselves into the next.”

Left-wing bloggers claimed the Fox News memo from John Moody showed hostility toward Democrats. In fact, Moody was doing his job, alerting reporters to a possible story idea. He wasn’t saying that reporters ought to fabricate a story. If al Qaeda had not issued a statement welcoming the Democratic victory, there wouldn’t have been a story. It’s as simple as that.

His exact words were: “Let’s be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled Congress.”

Over at MSNBC, Robert Greenwald, producer of a film called “Outfoxed,” claimed the Moody memo was “the worst kind of obscenity.” He explained, “I really think they’ve crossed a new line here.” He said it was an example of Moody determining the news in advance and then the channel deciding to “force the facts to fit what they want it to fit?” He said this “has brought them to a new line. If they were journalists they would be ashamed. But they’re not.”

This is bunk, of course. It’s not forcing the facts to fit when the media, led by AP, report that terrorists did in fact welcome the Democratic victory.

We don’t take a backseat to anyone in criticizing Fox News on legitimate grounds. But criticizing Fox News for anticipating a major story is beyond the pale. It shows that the left-wing critics are criticizing the channel because they do not want coverage of news items embarrassing to the Democrats.

It just so happens-and this is extremely newsworthy-that the Democratic plan for Iraq is similar to the one proposed by al Qaeda.

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