Thumbs Down to Georgie Anne Geyer

THUMBS DOWN to nationally-syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, for her column in early May about U.S. policy vis-a-vis Israel, which contains two fabrications. First, she writes: “In fact, it [American support for Israel’s actions] led Prime Minister Sharon to tell his Cabinet recently, ‘I control America.'” Extensive Lexis-Nexis and Internet searches reveal that not one other news outlet reported this statement. Instead, it originated from an Oct. 3, 2001 press release from the pro-Hamas American group Islamic Association for Palestine.

The press release states: “An acrimonious argument erupted during the Israeli cabinet weekly session last week between Ariel Sharon and his foreign Minister Shimon Peres during which Sharon reportedly yelled at Peres, saying ‘don’t worry about American pressure, we control America.'” According to the IAP release, the statement was reported on “Israeli Hebrew Radio, Col [sic] Yisrael Wednesday,” Oct. 3. Calls to Kol Yisrael confirmed that no such broadcast occurred.

Presented with the information from Kol Israel, Geyer changed her tune.  According to Bruce Dold, editor of the editorial page at the Chicago Tribune, Geyer then attributed the quote to two anonymous Israeli sources.

Geyer’s second problematic claim is: “Look at the U.S. television:  One minute, you see pro-Israeli ads saying the Arabs are all dogs…” Although CAMERA contacted her editor at Universal Press Syndicate, Geyer failed to cite the specifics of even one such ad, such as who sponsored it, exactly what was said, what images appeared, and when and where it appeared.

After significant public outry, her syndicate issued an editor’s note which stated that controversial quote “was widely reported  in the Palestinian press but cannot be confirmed with independent sources.  Miss Geyer and Universal Press Syndicate regret not having attrivuted the quote more specifically.”