Why do Washington Post reporters and editorial systematically keep relevant background about the Council on American Islamic Relations from readers?
CAMERA has questioned Post coverage of CAIR—an unindicted co-conspirator in the United States’ biggest terrorism funding trial to date—for years. No answer has been forthcoming, not even after CAMERA provided the newspaper’s last three ombudsmen with public record information casting doubt on CAIR’s self-portrait as a civil rights advocate for Muslim Americans.
The late Deborah Howell, Post ombudsman from 2005 to 2008, told CAMERA’s Washington office she had brought its complaint to the newsroom’s attention but, in essence, staffers rebuffed discussion of it. And The Post has continued citing CAIR as a credible source, virtually never telling readers that, among other things:
*In that 2009 federal case, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development retrial, five men were sentenced to prison for raising more than $12 million for Hamas. Hamas is the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, a U.S.-government designated terrorist organization. Receiving a 65-year term was Ghassan Elashi, co-founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter;
*In an out-of-court settlement of a suit it brought, the council reduced libel claims to omit contesting assertions it was founded by Hamas members, founded by Islamic terrorists and funded by Hamas supporters;
*Including Elashi, at least five former CAIR lay leaders or staffers have been arrested, convicted and/or deported on weapons or terrorism charges; and
*A council “media guide” to proper reporting of Islamic issues was “pure propaganda,” according to Investor’s Business Daily.
CAMERA has not urged The Post, or other news outlets, to ignore CAIR. Rather, it repeatedly has recommended that the newspaper and other media provide the minimum context necessary. Readers reasonably ought to be able to determine for themselves whether the council is, as it implies, a Muslim American version of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) or the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), or, as its history indicates, a Muslim Brotherhood derivative.
But no. When it comes to CAIR, The Post has its back. Among recent examples:
*“How the Trump campaign decided to target Muslims; Influenced by 9/11, candidate and aides focused on ‘radical Islam,’” June 22, 2016. CAIR’s Corey Saylor, director of its “department to monitor and combat Islamophobia” is quoted. No information about CAIR is included;
If a tree falls on you in the forest …
The Post does not appear to have covered the appeals verdict. A Nexis search indicates no U.S. newspapers did.
The Clarion Project, like CAMERA, like historian and publisher of Middle East Quarterly Daniel Pipes, The Investigative Project on Terrorism’s Steven Emerson and many others have been listed, or better, putatively black-listed, in a CAIR report. The council tars them as key players in an imagined national network fostering Islamophobia. The report, referred to obliquely by The Post in its June 15 article, is risible, slanderous and potentially libelous.
Asked about it by KPFA-FM radio, Berkeley, Cal., CAMERA replied, in part:
“CAIR’s self-described study of ‘Islamophobic networks’ alleges ‘CAMERA is pervasively inaccurate and disguises its anti-Muslim agenda by omitting important information.” ‘Pervasively inaccurate’ sweepingly implies a pattern of error. Yet the study appears to supply not one example. The allegation itself is not only pervasively inaccurate, it is slanderously and perhaps libelously so.
okescreen, confessing ‘unlike other Islamophobic organizations, CAMERA does not communicate obvious bigotry in their literature.’ (See CAMERA’s Special Report, “The Islamic Society of North America: Active, Influential and Rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood,” 2012)
In relying uncritically on CAIR as a source, The Washington Post and other news media undercut themselves and short-change readers, listeners and viewers. The question is why? The answer would be newsworthy.