In a Nov. 20 WorldNetDaily column, Aaron Klein is "horrified" that his Nov. 14 article on a $2 million ransom allegedly paid for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped in Gaza last summer, was widely interpreted to mean that Fox News itself paid the ransom.
"My report made very clear the sources did not know where the money originated. No source stated or implied the money came from Fox News," Klein wrote, adding:
Unfortunately, many used my article to claim Fox News paid the ransom – a contention I never made or implied. As the researcher of this piece, I can state categorically I don't believe Fox News paid any money or knew any money was paid. As outlined in my article, the indications are the exchange was brokered by a government or political party since certain quid pro quos were reportedly made, such as assurances against further kidnappings of Americans.
The problem is that, his purported caveats notwithstanding, Klein did not "make it clear"; nowhere in his original article did he explicitly state that Fox News was not the source of the alleged ransom. Even though Klein insists that "[n]o source stated or implied the money came from Fox News," his article is indeed murkily written enough to imply exactly that (as we previously noted).
Klein also states that "Off the record, Fox News sources admitted it was possible the terror gangs were paid off by an entity involved in the negotiations and that the news channel did not know about it." But Klein never told his readers that "the news channel did not know about" the ransom. From the article:
A spokeswoman for Fox News Channel told WND she could not provide an official statement about whether Fox was aware of money paid to free its two employees.
A source at Fox told WND many parties were involved with the freedom of Centanni and Wiig, including the U.S. government, and that it was possible money was paid.
And while Klein repeatedly claims in his column that the source of the ransom money was "unknown," the word "unknown" does not appear in his original article. In fact, he writes that one terrorist official "said he 'knows' the money came from the U.S. as part of a deal to free Centanni and Wiig but could not identify exactly which organization or government entity transferred the cash" -- which can certainly be interpreted as an implication of Fox News.
Klein then switches to suck-up mode, claiming, "I am horrified people have falsified and misrepresented my article to attack Fox News," and adding that "I have enormous respect for [Fox News chief Roger] Ailes." He laments that
"Unfortunately, many used my article to claim Fox News paid the ransom – a contention I never made or implied." (Again, he did imply it.) Klein concluded:
I was not asked by WND nor Fox News Channel to print this clarification. In fact, both news organizations seem to have largely moved on. But as a reporter, I cannot stand idly by while others misrepresent and falsify my words to wrongly smear America's best cable news network.
Is Klein looking to get a job with Fox News someday? He might have a better chance if he would just stop being so defensive and admit that his article suggested that Fox News paid the ransom, even if he didn't actually say that Fox did. He can then devote even more of his attention to smearing Ehud Olmert.