Accuracy in Media

Blogger Glenn Reynolds wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the debate over the acquisition of American port operations by an Arab state-owned firm provided “an object lesson in the blogosphere’s strengths and weaknesses?” He singled out himself for criticism, saying that while his own initial reaction to the deal was negative, he turned around after talking to a few people and became a supporter of it. He appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources show to say that he was “now reasonably comfortable with it.” He said in his Journal piece that he had changed his mind because “gut reactions can be overcome by evidence.”

With the collapse of the deal, because of overwhelming public opposition, Reynolds should take another look at the “strengths and weaknesses” of the blogosphere. He should have stayed with his gut reactions. A gut reaction in this case wasn’t anti-Arab bias or racism but natural revulsion at the idea of foreigners with suspicious connections and shady backgrounds operating U.S. terminals. The idea of an Arab firm assuming such a role, after 9/11, made no sense, especially because some of the 9/11 hijackers came from the UAE.

AIM congratulates conservative talk radio, led by Michael Savage, and elements of the blogosphere, for demonstrating independence of thought and action in this case and attacking the deal.

Even at this late date, after the deal has been derailed, aspects of the story still don’t make any sense. Could it really be, for instance, that not one person of Cabinet level or higher in the executive branch knew this deal was coming?  But if over 80% (or is it 90% as some reports say) of the terminals at the nation’s ports are already controlled by foreign entities, including those run by Communist China, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, maybe the United Arab Emirates shouldn’t have been considered by the bureaucrats to be anything unusual.

And was it just a coincidence that David Sanborn, a top executive with DP World, was appointed to head up the Maritime Administration of the Department of Transportation on the same day the deal was approved?

Then there’s the question of the number of ports affected. The first reports were that it was six ports that were involved. Then, after visiting DPW’s website, WorldNetDaily reported that no, it was not six ports, but 22 that were involved. The same day, Pam Hess of UPI reported that no, it was 21 ports.  But oddly, the rest of the media continued reporting it as six ports.

There was also a great deal of confusion about what DP World was actually doing. Were they buying ports, leasing ports, running terminals, or what? A DHS spokesperson said that in Baltimore, for example, DPW would actually have the lease to operate just two out of 14 terminals at that port.

Audrey Hudson of the Washington Times had an excellent piece explaining that over the period that this story has been reported, DHS has gone from saying that there are 850 terminals nationwide, to now saying there are 3,200, “80 percent of which are operated by foreign companies and countries.” But all this time later, the government agencies involved have not yet been able to consolidate their lists to be able to show what countries and companies control each terminal.

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