Aaron Klein used his April 11 WABC radio show to respond to our article (as published at Huffington Post) detailing his affinity for right-wing extremism. Sadly, Klein selectively quotes from the article to paint himself as a victim and mislead about what we wrote.
Klein begins by whining, "I have been under assault by the liberal media in the United States," going on to call our article "a perfect example of how the left llies and distorts and smears whenever they are threatened by someone." But Klein identifies no lies or distortions by us; indeed, Klein himself distorts what we wrote.
Klein claims that we wrote that he is "somehow associated with the Kahane Chai movement," adding, "Do they have me, like say, launching my journalist career in the living room of a Kahane Chai leader, sort of like Barack Obama, who is associated with real extremists, launched his political career, remember, in the living room of Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, who of course sought the downfall of the U.S. government? ... Do they have me being hired for my first job by a Kahane Chai leader, like Obama was actually hired for his first position, which would be at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an education reform organization. He was hired by the chairman of that group, the CAC, Bill Ayers. ... Do they have me sitting on the board of a nonprofit organization as a paid director with Kahane Chai leaders like Obama served on the board as a paid director of the Woods Fund with Bill Ayers? ...There better at least be a suggestion that Kahane Chai leaders ghost-wrote my previous books, like a lot of people have strongly suggested that Bill Ayers may have ghostwritten Obama's book 'Dreams of My Father.'"
Of course, we didn't say anything quite like that. We merely pointed out the fact that Klein has repeatedly used his reporting to whitewash the violent extremism of Kahane Chai sympathizers. But rather than directly address that, Klein distorted what we wrote by selectively quoting.
(And Klein is lying about much of the above -- Ayers didn't hire Obama for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and even the biographer who noted that Ayers provided "help" and served as an "informal editing service” on Obama book made sure to add, "I definitely do not say he [Ayers] wrote Barack Obama's book.")
"The basis is they say that in 2006 and 2008 I interviewed and quoted Kahane Chai leaders in articles." Klein then addressed our complaint that Klein quoted Kahane Chai sympathizer David Ha'ivri without noting his sympathy for the movement's violent elements by claiming that the New York Times and other outlets have similarly quoted Ha'ivri without noting his Kahanist leanings.
Klein did not discuss his whitewashing of Mike Guzofsky/Yekutel Ben Yaacov or his portrayal of Kahane Chai fellow traveler Eden Natan Zada has having been "murdered" after shooting four people to death on a bus while not describing Zada's victims that way.
Klein then makes an astonishing admission: "Just for the record, I personally do agree with some of the sentiments of Rabbi Meir Kahane. I think he was right about certain things, wrong about other things, but I have absolutely nothing, no association whatsoever with Kahane Chai leaders. Further, I actually -- I believe that some of these leaders of Kahane Chai in Israel are extremists, and more than that, they're absolute embarrassments to the religious national community in israel. And I think that unfortunatly, the media is using the Kahane extremists to basically paint all the Jews in the West Bank as extremists. So, bottom line, I have absolutely nothing to do with these Kahane Chai extremists."
Given that the Kahane Chai movement has been outlawed in Israel for its extremism and violence, Klein can't exactly say that Kahane "was right about certain things" while simultaneously trying to separate himself from the "extremists" in the movement -- especially if you're on record as whitewashing that very same extremism. As Klein himself noted during his show, Kahane supported the expulsion of Arabs from Israel. Does Klein support that as well? He doesn't say. Klein needs to be clear about what Kahanist beliefs he supports and which ones he rejects.
Klein also addressed our claim that he had not explain the circumstances under which he and radio host John Batchelor interviewed a Hamas official in 2008 who offered an "endorsement" of Obama or if the spokesman knew that he was servicing Klein's anti-Obama agenda. After ranting that the claim was "scandalous" and "maybe legally actionable," Klein claimed that the official, "without any prompting on our part, he starts to go off on how excited he is about this new presidential candidate Barack Obama, and he said that he hoped that Obama is elected and he compared Obama to JFK."
That still doesn't answer our question, though, about whether the Hamas official he was interviewing was aware of Klein's anti-Obama bias or that Klein would use the official's comments against him to further inflame anti-Obama sentiment in the U.S.
Klein goes on to state that the article was written by "an individual who also works as an editor for the George Soros-funded Media Matters" -- though we won't identify us or ConWebWatch by name -- and calls Soros "affiliated with far-left extremists." He also uses our noting of his upcoming anti-Obama book as the reason we are "suddenly smearing him" and as evidence that the White House is "concerned" about the book. Klein insists the book is "thoroughly researched" and "none of it is my opinon," but in our article, we documented numerous errors and misleading claims made by Klein about Obama officials (which he didn't address).
Klein concluded by claiming that our article as an example of "what the left does to any independent journalist who begins to investigate their precious president of the United States, Barack Obama."
Klein's dishonest response to our article belies his show's intro, which describes him as "a reporter you can trust to bring you the news." About the only thing you can trust Klein to do is lie and distort -- you know, what he falsely accused us of doing.