Days after the 1996 Olympic Park bombing, media and federal investigators focused on their top suspect: Richard Jewell, the security guard who had first discovered the bomb which killed one and injured 111. It took more than a year for Jewell to clear his name; he would successfully sue several outlets for their coverage but remained haunted by the memory of the reporters who went after him "like piranha on a bleeding cow" for years.
In the 24 hours following yesterday's tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, several right-wing media figures have attempted to create their own Jewell. Echoing the same piranha-like voraciousness seen in that case, they have published the name, home address, and what they claim are Facebook pictures of a 20-year-old Saudi national that police have since identified as a witness -- not a suspect -- to the Boston bombings.
Less than two hours after the bombing took place, The New York Post -- citing unnamed "law enforcement sources" -- claimed that a "Saudi Arabian national" was a "suspect" in the case and that he was "under guard at an undisclosed Boston hospital." Several right-wing outlets quickly trumpeted that report. But the claim quickly unraveled (as did the paper's similarly sourced claim that 12 had been killed in the explosions), with law enforcement telling reporters that no one had been arrested in the case and that the Saudi was a witness who was cooperating with authorities.
By the next afternoon, Fox News was reporting that "a federal law enforcement official is confirming... that Saudi man, the college student who was described as a person of interest in the Boston bombings, has now been ruled out as a suspect in this bombing."
But in the interim, the right-wing media -- led by popular conservative blogger Jim Hoft -- swallowed the initial Post report and began posting as much personal information about the man as they could discover.
Anti-Muslim activists have attacked the new TLC reality show All-American Muslim as "propaganda," "a video version of jihad," and "A Little Taqiyya on the Prairie." Television critics, meanwhile, have praised the show for portraying the diversity of the American Muslim community.
The David Horowitz organization has historically been touchy about being criticized, so it's no surprise that my blog post detailing the craziness of Ralph Peters' wild attack on immigration reform at Horowitz's FrontPageMag drew a response.
In his April 6 FrontPageMag article, Rich Trzupek kicked things off with ad hominem attacks, calling Media Matters "George Soros' steno pool" and calling Peters "a real American hero who spent ten years in military intelligence defending this nation in ways that journalists like Terry Krepel could not imagine." In contrast to what he calls Media Matters' depiction of Peters as a "racist, extremist, blood-thirsty lunatic," Trzupek further defends Peters as "an unapologetic advocate of taking and keeping America's gloves off while fighting the war on terror."
Actually, Peters has done a bit of what could be called apologizing. Last year, Peters smeared a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan captured by the Taliban, claiming that if he was a deserter, "the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills" by killing him. After the Pentagon said that Peters' comments could further endanger the captured soldier, Peters tried to walk it back.
It could technically be described as criticism of comprehensive immigration reform, but it's really just one long screed against giving undocumented immigrants voting rights -- something no one has proposed doing:
President Barack Obama's greatest crime against our flag and the republic for which it stands isn't his administration's health-care theft bill. That's mere shoplifting compared to what's coming next.
Obama and the leftwing of the Democratic Party intend to turn ten to eleven million illegal immigrants into voters as expeditiously as possible, giving them a permanent national electoral majority based upon a beholden Lumpenproletariat. If they succeed, our country will face mob rule.
No individual who broke the law to enter this country should ever be allowed to decide who becomes our president, governor, senator -- or town council member. If there is one message patriotic Americans must act upon during the remainder of Obama's reign, it's this: No voting rights for illegals.
No other issue of our time matters remotely as much -- not our lukewarm struggle with Islamist terror or even our metastasizing deficits. This isn't about tax increases or where to hold terror trials. It's about preserving our democratic institutions for law-abiding citizens.
Again: Nobody, let alone Obama, is proposing to allow undocumented immigrants to vote. Peters barely attempts to make the argument that creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, who would then be allowed to vote, is a bad thing. But Peters is on a roll: No voting rights for illegals! Mob rule! Never mind that President Reagan's granting amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants didn't exactly result in "mob rule."
In the latest attack on an Obama appointee, conservative columnist Cal Thomas and FrontPageMag.com each claimed that special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain has, in Thomas' words, "a history of participating in events connected with the Muslim Brotherhood." However, the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, from where their claims stem, has been criticized for employing a "fairly loose definition of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates," and numerous prominent conservatives have also met with representatives or affiliates of groups named in its article.
From a January 8 FrontPageMag.com interview of Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters:
FP: How much confidence, exactly, do you have in this administration providing safety to Americans against our enemies?
Peters: Unfortunately, I have no faith-none-in the administration's seriousness, when it comes to protecting Americans. A president who insists, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that every next terrorist is just an "isolated extremist" with no connection to Islam isn't interested in solving the problem.
FP: Your view of Janet Napolitano? Why is she still heading Homeland Security?
Peters: I'd rather not view Janet Napolitano at all. This woman is so far out of her depth that it can't be measured with Newtonian metrics. She was a politically correct appointment, period. On the positive side, word is that she'll be gone in the next few months-Obama's too vain to fire her right now, while the administration's under fire over the Christmas terror attempt, but he realizes what a political liability she's become.
There's another, unfortunate, side to this. When representing our country, especially on security matters, appearance and physical presence matter. It would be great if that were not so, but facts are facts. Even if Napolitano were a security genius, she doesn't project a forceful, capable image to our deadly enemies (or to our allies). Again, every one of Obama's cabinet-level appointments has been about domestic politics, not about their effectiveness on the world stage.
Well, at least he can't blame Bush for Napolitano.
On June 2, David Horowitz wrote a post on his FrontPageMag blog denouncing inflammatory anti-Obama rhetoric, such as claiming that President Obama wants to take advantage of a "Reichstag fire" type of incident to "terminate our Republic as Hitler did the Weimar Republic in the 1930s" (as WorldNetDaily's David Kupelian had claimed the day before). Horowitz wrote: "Obama is a machine politician and whatever dangers he represents (and as I see it there are many) are dangers because they reflect the heart and soul of today's Democratic Party, not because he is a Manchurian candidate or a closet Islamist, as more than a few conservatives seem to think."
How times change. A Sept. 11 FrontPageMag article by Horowitz carries the headline "The Manchurian Candidate." The front page of FrontPageMag promoted the article with this image:
So when does Horowitz start touting the "new Reichstag fire"?
A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
Syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, falsely asserted in a column that Sen. Hillary Clinton "said that Chelsea [Clinton] was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 and happened to duck into a coffee shop when the airplanes hit. She said that this move saved Chelsea's life." In fact, Hillary Clinton made no such claim.
On FrontPageMag.com, Daniel Pipes purported to consider whether Sen. Barack Obama was "ever a Muslim or seen by others as a Muslim." But in support of his statement that "available evidence suggests Obama was born a Muslim to a non-practicing Muslim father and for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing," Pipes cited a March Los Angeles Times article, critical parts of which have been challenged by the Chicago Tribune.
FrontPageMag.com, the "online magazine" of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, posted an excerpt from a New York Sun article published that day detailing allegations by a Princeton University student who claimed he had been assaulted because of his conservative views. However, while the Sun updated its story to report that Nava admitted to police that "he fabricated the assault," FrontPageMag.com has yet to acknowledge that the entire story was fabricated.
In a FrontPageMag.com column, Dick Morris purported to offer "corrections" to President Clinton's "syrupy five minute ad" for Sen. Hillary Clinton. But Morris made no fewer than seven different claims about the video or Sen. Clinton that contained outright falsehoods or are contradicted by other sources.
In a press release alleging possible "criminal obstruction of justice" in the Mark Foley scandal, David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com claimed that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it has held "incriminating e-mails revealing Foley's sexual misconduct since at least July 2006." In fact, CREW has explicitly stated that it both received the emails and sent them to the FBI on the same day in July.