Back in June I wrote this about the notorious Leftist ideologue/pseudo-journalist Dave Weigel and mainstream media reporters in general:
In Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s character Alvy Singer says: “Lyndon Johnson is a politician. You know the ethics those guys have? It’s like-uh, a notch underneath child molester.”
As for reporters, I wouldn’t say that they’re that bad. Heck, I’ll even grant that they’re a notch above child molester. But particularly when it comes to Islam and jihad, they’re generally agenda-driven, short-sighted, and above all, simply dishonest. Not so much in terms of outright lies, but in terms of spin: by omission and juxtaposition, by what they say and what they don’t say, and by how they choose quotations as well as by how they frame them in a story, they attempt to lead the reader to the conclusion they wish him or her to draw.
All that is accurate as far as it goes, but overly generous. Reporters are worse than that. They are people who make a living by pretending to like or sympathize with or at least be well-disposed toward people they despise in order to get them to open up; then they scan over the results with all the zeal of a crusading prosecutor, operating according to the principle that anything you say can and will be used against you. I can’t imagine being so duplicitous on a regular basis, smiling in the faces of some people while cursing them behind their backs, but such is the life of a mainstream media reporter when interviewing a conservative.
In the interview excerpts, Pamela Geller speaks, and can be heard by people of good will. The article is something else again — although even there, her voice cannot be completely silenced or distorted. But Times reporters Barnard and Feuer were certainly trying. Pamela has already pointed out many of its smears, distortions and inaccuracies here. My favorite bit was this:
Just to show how avid and careful they were in their quest for the facts, they have me video blogging from an Israeli beach. Won’t Fort Lauderdale be surprised to find out that the Zionist war machine is now occupying Florida beaches?
And this, showing the viciousness of the Times’s spin-by-omission:
Here is credentialed journalism: they say without explanation that I “posted doctored pictures of Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, in a Nazi helmet.” They don’t bother to mention that the Kagan photoshop came after it was revealed that Kagan had cited in her thesis a German Marxist who became a Nazi when Hitler took power. They claim that I said that “a young Barack Obama slept with ‘a crack whore,’” without mentioning that in that post I was making a point about unfair journalists (like these Times writers), constructing a reductio ad absurdum about media bias.
But there is much more. Be sure to read it all.
The article is entitled “Outraged, and Outrageous,” by Anne Barnard and Alan Feuer in the New York Times, October 10. A few comments:
It is in this genteel setting that Ms. Geller, 52 and a single mother of four, wakes each morning shortly after 7, switches on her laptop and wages a form of holy war through Atlas Shrugs, a Web site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site.
“A form of holy war.” Note the condescension, and the blistering irony, as Pamela herself noted — the Times readily uses this language of her work, but will “never, ever discuss the real holy war against the West.”
…critics say her influence is serious: a spreading fear of Islam and a dehumanization of Muslims comparable to the sometimes-violent anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism of earlier eras. Even some of her former right-wing allies say she has gone too far….
The “former right-wing allies” in question are not a “some,” but just a one: libelblogger Charles Johnson of the lies-and-hate site Little Green Footballs, who is notorious in the blogosphere for having betrayed his principles and all his former associates — but of course the Times doesn’t mention any of that.
Note also how Barnard and Feuer echo the now-common theme that opposition to the jihad and Islamic supremacism is comparable to antisemitism and anti-Catholicism. Christopher Hitchens took up that farrago recently regarding antisemitism, and the same thing can be said of anti-Catholicism: “Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness.”
Opposition to Park51 grew — and with it, antipathy for Islam. A New York Times poll last month found that two-thirds of city residents thought the project should be relocated. A Quinnipiac University poll of likely New York State voters showed that 90 percent of Republicans — compared to 34 percent of Democrats — thought that a mosque near ground zero was wrong. And the portion of Americans with a favorable view of Islam reached its lowest ebb since 9/11 — 37 percent, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll….
How appallingly stupid do Barnard and Feuer think that Times readers are? People have an unfavorable view of Islam because of Pamela Geller? Or Newt Gingrich, or Sarah Palin? Barnard and Feuer would prefer that you not think about Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadist; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas underwear jihadist; Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who killed one soldier and murdered another in a jihad shooting outside a military recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark.; Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square jihadist; Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden on 9/11; the London jihad bombers of July 7, 2005; and so many others.
Mr. Spencer says Ms. Geller’s “genius” is translating his sometimes-obscure concepts into vernacular, plus a “charm and appeal” that motivates people to take action….
I did say that Pamela Geller had a genius for communicating ideas in a way that helped people see their importance and the need to take action, but I didn’t say anything about my “sometimes-obscure concepts.” I didn’t know I had any of those (although to be sure, Barnard may have gotten that impression from my enthusiastically telling her about a major paper I wrote in 1983 or so about the possible historical derivations of Qur’an 4:157!).
Mr. Johnson of Little Green Footballs, a former comrade, attacked Ms. Geller and Mr. Spencer — whose interest in Islam began with family lore about a Greek great-grandfather killed by Turks — for meeting with “neo-Nazis.” They insisted they were not responsible for the views of everyone who stands in a room with them (though they have lobbed similar guilt-by-association accusations at Muslims, including the people behind Park51).
I challenge Barnard and Feuer to produce even a single example where Pamela or I have ever accused anyone connected with Park 51 with holding the views of someone standing in a room with them. I challenge them to produce a single example of our carrying out a campaign of lies, defamation, character assassination and personal destruction remotely comparable to that which libelblogger Charles Johnson has carried out against both of us. They can’t, of course, because we haven’t. Everything we’ve said about the people associated with the Ground Zero mega-mosque is based on their own words and deeds.
And that bit about my great-grandfather — the Times is implying that I am out for some kind of personal revenge, like some “Islamophobic” Inigo Montoya. In reality, the “family lore” I heard from my grandparents about growing up in the Ottoman Empire was uniformly and warmly positive. My great-grandfather was murdered in 1918; I never knew him, and his story was never part of “family lore.” In fact, I didn’t even know it had happened until two decades after my “interest in Islam” was in full swing. So how did Anne Barnard find out about it? Because she asked me if anyone in my family had been killed at the time that my grandparents were exiled from Anatolia. I answered her truthfully. And she made that the linchpin of my interest in Islam. This is what they do.
Through it all, however, despite the best (i.e., worst) efforts of these utterly integrity-free Times reporters, I think the indomitable spirit of my colleague shines through. I am proud to work with her.