Accuracy for Moonies?
Accuracy in Media defends the Unification Church-owned website that repeated a false smear of Barack Obama, then reprints a screed by its editor.
By Terry Krepel
Is Accuracy in Media throwing its lot in with the Moonies?
In a Feb. 1 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid eagerly defended InsightMag.com -- the successor to the now-defunct Insight on the News magazine, owned, like the Washington Times and United Press International, by Unification Church-controlled News World Communications -- over its article that promoted the false claim that Barack Obama attended an extremist Islamic madrassa as a child. Kincaid insisted that the story "cannot be easily dismissed" because Obama's purported Muslim past remains "mysterious" and a CNN report debunking the claim was "hastily-produced and superficial." He added:
Some "progressives" want the public to believe that the story has been proven to be a lie, smear, or hoax. But that is not the case. It is the case that "progressives" want to use this controversy to make conservative media pay for running the story.
But in 2004, Kincaid and AIM did exactly that to CBS' Bush-National Guard story -- dismiss it completely because one part was found questionable, even though many of the allegations raised in the report were not affected by the questionable sourcing of those memos. Kincaid and AIM also used that story to further their attacks on the "liberal media."
For instance, a Sept. 21, 2004, statement by Kincaid claimed that CBS was "caught in the middle of a criminal conspiracy, with links to the Kerry campaign, to use forged documents to bring down an American president." But in his column on the Insight article, Kincaid does not note the prediction of The New Republic's Jason Zengerle, made more than a month before the Insight article appeared, that conservatives will "launch a savage and despicable whispering campaign" against Obama "and then blame it all on Hillary" -- a description that fits the Insight story to a T.
Yet, for all of its longtime fulminations over the CBS report, nowhere to our knowledge has AIM examined every claim made by the report to determine the accuracy of each and what evidence exists, if any, to support them (and the connection, if any, to the questionable memos). Still, Kincaid declared a debunking of an similar flaw in the Insight report as "superficial." Not exactly a shining example of promoting "accuracy in media."
Further, Insight insisted its anonymous sources are "very credible," but its readers have no way to judge that. All most people know of News World operations such as Insight and the Washington Times are its pro-Republican, anti-Democrat slant and its veritable hatred of anything Clinton. In fact, in 1997, the magazine version of Insight promoted the false claim that the Clinton administration was giving burial plots at Arlington National Cemetery to campaign donors. Such a history may be a better indicator of the accuracy of the article than any claims of credibility Insight is asserting now.
Such a history of bias and false claims apparently isn't scaring away AIM from taking Insight's side. Kincaid's column defending Insight was followed up by reprinting a Feb. 7 column by Insight editor Jeffrey T. Kuhner that is little more than a screed against the New York Times.
Kuhner began by asserting that the Times "is trying to destroy the reputation of Sean Hannity." How? Apparently having a "feminist libertine" write a sarcastic column about Hannity's visit to a Nevada brothel -- for the noblest of purposes, of course, Kuhner tells us: Hannity "exposed the dangerous and degrading nature of the world's oldest profession." As for the article's description of how Fox News' "camera slowly moves from prostitute to prostitute, lasciviously lingering over the one with the largest, most exposed breasts," Kuhner didn't deny it, but instead responded:
Mr. Hannity is therefore being faulted for showing semi-nude women during his investigation of a Nevada brothel. What was his crew supposed to film--nuns praying the rosary? The story was about the sex trade in America, which means it must inevitably contain sexually explicit images.
Kuhner then shifted into full rant mode, hurling one unsupported claim and ad hominem insult after another:
Kuhner even threw a few less-than-truthful claims into the mix:
Kuhner then went on to claim that President Clinton -- "and by extension, Hillary -- shares much of the blame for the 3,000 Americans who were slaughtered on that fateful day." Maintaining this level of delusion, he also calls Hannity a "true, tenacious journalist."
AIM is not the first in the ConWeb to engage in heavy flirting with the Moonie empire. Back in 2003, ConWebWatch detailed WorldNetDaily's coziness with the News World organization; not only was WND reprinting content from Insight (he called then-Insight editor Paul Rodriguez "one of my best friends in the business"), WND editor Joseph Farah's syndicated column appeared in the national weekly edition of the Washington Times. The content-sharing agreement ended with the demise of the print version of Insight in 2004; Farah backed further away when news spread of a "coronation ceremony" crowning the Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon ad the "king of peace" held in a Senate office building and attended by several members of Congress. A July 2004 column by Farah called Moon a "billionaire pseudo-messiah" Though Farah has never specifically renounced WND's ties to Moon's publications, he at least backed away from Moon; as ConWebWatch noted, others including WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving were quick to instead draw distinctions between Moon and his publications.
A search of AIM's archives found no mention of the Moon "coronation" ceremony -- indeed, mentions of Moon by AIM are scant:
Then there's a loooong gap in the archive until the next mention -- an January 1983 AIM Report by Irvine that defends the Washington Times, as NewsMax and Kinsolving did, asserting that "the professional, non-Moon Journalists who run the paper assert that they have iron-clad guaranties of independence of editorial control" and that "the product that comes out five days a week attests to the truth of that claim."
AIM has not been similarly timid about rich liberals in the media. An October 2004 column by Kincaid excoriated liberal activist and philanthropist George Soros "the biggest political fat cat of all time" and detailed his "media connections" -- something Kincaid has shown no such interest in doing with Moon.
Kincaid concluded: "Considering all of the money that Soros or his organizations have provided to news organizations, it should be no surprise to learn that journalists love him." And considering all the money that Moon has pumped into conservative media outlets like the Washington Times and Insight, it's no wonder that the folks at AIM love him and are willing to gloss over his messianic declarations.
After all, if AIM is willing to consider news organizations discredited just because Soros has sent some money their way, shouldn't it do the same for the Washington Times and Insight? After all, unlike Moon, Soros hasn't declared himself a messiah, which is clearly objectionable (if not blasphemous) from a Christian standpoint, something we know Kincaid doesn't like. He has complained that the popularity of "The Da Vinci Code" shows that "Christians and their beliefs are fair game for journalists" and attacked a TV show for "mocking Jesus Christ and featuring demented Christians."
If Moon was supporting liberal causes, Kincaid and AIM would undoubtedly be bashing him to no end and declaring that anything with his fingerprint cannot be trusted. Why won't AIM apply that same standard to Moon's publications now?
Before AIM totally commits itself to shilling for the Moonie brand of journalism, it might want to think things through.