June 4, 2011
Obama's Mounting Media ManipulationBy Edward Olshaker
Continuing a pattern of punishing unsupportive media that began during the 2008 campaign, the Obama Administration recently banned a Boston Herald reporter from the media pool covering a presidential visit as apparent retaliation for running an op-ed by Mitt Romney.
The explanation by the White House Press Office's Matt Lehrich only served to make the administration sound more petty and dictatorial. He wrote to the Herald, "My point about the op-ed was not that you ran it but that it was the full front page..."
This follows a string of similar incidents in recent days -- the banning of a San Francisco Chronicle reporter after the paper published a video of an anti-Obama protest; the successful pressuring of a Pleasanton, California newspaper to remove part of what it wrote about the First Lady; and Vice President Biden's staff once again denying a reporter access by forcing him to sit in a closet.
This policy of suppressing speech and cutting off media access began during the 2008 campaign when, as punishment for asking unfriendly questions to Joe Biden, television stations WFTV in Orlando and CBS3 in Philadelphia were denied future access.
Even more troubling, when a Chicago radio show invited the National Review's Stanley Kurtz to discuss his investigation into Obama's radical past and offered the Obama team airtime to rebut, the campaign chose instead to encourage supporters to bombard the station with demands to keep Kurtz off the air; and later did the same to author David Freddoso, as Anat Hakim reported in American Thinker at the time. The campaign also demanded the Justice Department intervene to stop campaign ads that mentioned his political alliance with terrorist Bill Ayers.
It thus came as no surprise when Obama declared war on Fox News. Despite the unique fortune of having a media that has overwhelmingly supported and protected him, Obama revealed himself as troubled and even obsessed that one network was not on the bandwagon. He dispatched David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel to spread the word on other networks that Fox did not deserve to be regarded as a news organization. The administration warned Democratic consultants not to appear on Fox. Patrick Caddell, a former pollster for President Carter, called the campaign of intimidation "appalling" and accused the administration of "suppressing dissent and comment."
In stunning contrast, Obama extended a hand of friendship to the Al Jazeera network, granting a previously denied visa to the network's director general Wadah Khanfar, boosting his efforts to cultivate a larger US audience for their English-language channel. The network was granted interviews with prominent officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who used the forum to demand an end to Israeli "settlement construction, additions, natural growth -- any kind of settlement activity"), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.
Ironically, Obama's generous outreach came at a time when Khanfar, a member of the terror-supporting Muslim Brotherhood according to one of Al Jazeera's own correspondents, was reshaping the network to more fully conform to the values of the Brotherhood. Khanfar's ascendance alarmed even Al-Jazeera's Washington Bureau Chief, Hafez Al-Mirazi, who complained, "From the first day of the Wadah Khanfar era, there was a dramatic change, especially because of him selecting assistants who are hardline Islamists." Al-Mirazi's concern was not shared by the new administration -- which invited him to meet with White House, State Department, and Pentagon officials.
A year before Obama's outreach, Al Jazeera under Khanfar's leadership descended to new depths of depravity when the network threw a birthday party for released terrorist Samir Kuntar, who had killed 4-year-old Israeli girl Einat Haran by bashing her head with a rifle butt after murdering her father in front of her. Professor Judea Pearl, father of martyred reporter Daniel Pearl, wrote at the time:
There was orchestral music, a huge birthday cake and infinite admiration by Bin Jiddo, Al-Jazeera bureau chief and master of ceremony, announcing: "Brother Samir, we would like to celebrate your birthday with you. You deserve even more than this.... Happy birthday, brother Samir."
How amateurish was the Coliseum in Rome compared with modern-day satellite rituals of death and brutality. Imagine millions of living rooms watching their new role model, child-killer Kuntar, lowering a huge butcher knife onto his birthday cake to the sound of fireworks....
In the same spirit, Al Jazeera has broadcast a mufti's admonition that "there can be no peace with the Jews because they suck and use the blood of Arabs on the holiday [sic] of Passover and Purim," and a debate on whether Osama bin Laden was good or bad for Islam, in which a pro-bin Laden Saudi cleric blamed the Jews, "the most despicable people...worms...all evil," for the 9/11 attacks and urged the US to "get rid" of them. A show on the subject "Is Zionism worse than Nazism?" shared a viewer e-mail declaring, "[Jews are] the descendants of apes and pigs [who] will not be deterred unless there is a true holocaust that will exterminate all of them at once."
Why would Obama -- who was so upset by the beating death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert in Chicago that he responded by sending Attorney-General Eric Holder there -- reward Al Jazeera with increased prestige and access shortly after they honored a terrorist for beating a little girl to death? Was he paying back Al Jazeera for supporting his candidacy and attacking his opponents in 2008? Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media reported that the network aired "a story depicting supporters of Sarah Palin as white racist Christians," written by a "reporter" who was an Obama campaign contributor.
Even if Obama had paid attention to Al Jazeera's content, it might not have seemed much different from what he had heard for much of his life from his closest mentors. It apparently never struck him as unusual or troubling when his pastor gloated over the 9/11 attacks as well-deserved payback, or when his church newsletter praised Hamas and supported Hezb'allah. He had no hesitation extolling Rashid Khalidi as a valuable Mideast advisor, even as Khalidi openly endorsed massacring Israeli soldiers during peacetime -- the same thing Nidal Hassan did to US soldiers at Fort Hood.
It is indeed bizarre to see our black president promote the only network that touted Klansman David Duke as a respected news analyst, giving him a forum to disseminate predictably bigoted conspiracy theories to a huge audience. It's equally baffling to see Hillary Clinton praise Al Jazeera as "real news" without any of the useless "talking heads" found on US cable news, when its biggest attraction is the Sharia advice show of talking head Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood kingpin who has praised the Holocaust, called on Allah to "kill [the Jews] down to the very last one," and urged the murder of Americans, apostates, and homosexuals. In April, "[Clinton's] staffers, as well as those of the CIA and the Obama White House, were attending the Congressional Correspondents' Dinner as Al-Jazeera's guests," Politico reported.
Professor Judea Pearl, the liberal, idealistic former supporter of Al Jazeera who awakened when he saw their terrorist birthday party, now warns, "Their unconditional support of Hamas's terror in Gaza, the Hezbollah takeover in Lebanon, and the Syrian and Iranian regimes betrays any illusion that democracy and human rights are on Al Jazeera's agenda -- weakening the West is their first priority."
Yet here in the targeted West, top congressional leaders and journalists are now blindly following the Obama Administration's lead. A recent Politico article entitled, Pelosi, McCain salute Al Jazeera describes the new fun-filled friendship:
Al Jazeera may not be having much luck getting its English channel onto American televisions, but Washington, at least, continues to be smitten.
At the opening night of the Al Jazeera U.S. Forum..., White House Press Secretary Jay Carney could be spotted milling among Al Jazeera top brass ...
...House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. John McCain praised Al Jazeera's role as a catalyst in the Arab Spring uprisings before a room of journalists...
[Pelosi] opened her remarks with a nod to the fact that, not so long ago, so much praise of Al Jazeera from such a high-ranking member of Congress might have been somewhat controversial.
"I'm very delighted to be here with Senator McCain," she said. "...You can just imagine how happy I was to see him, because I was preparing for the onslaught of criticism that I was going to receive. But now I'm covered!"
The room erupted in laughter.
Reading this, I thought about the banned Boston Herald, which really needs to contact the celebrated Al Jazeera for some badly needed public-relations tips; and about the trampled memory of 4-year-old Israeli girl Einat Haran, whose brutal killing, no less horrific than that of JonBenet Ramsey or 9-year-old Christina Green in the Tucson shootings, was cause for rejoicing by the television network now embraced by America's political and media elites.
"Before Obama, it was an 'us or them' mentality."-- Wadah Khanfar, Al Jazeera Director General and reported member of the Muslim Brotherhood
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