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WorldNetDaily Red-Baits Obama

Led by Aaron Klein, WND has repeatedly attempted to tie the president -- however desperately and tangentally -- to communism and socialism.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/23/2009

Aaron Klein seems not to be aware that the 2008 presidential election is over.

ConWebWatch has repeatedly detailed the WorldNetDaily Jerusalem bureau chief's repeated efforts to tie Barack Obama to assorted nefarious folks, from getting a spokesman for the Palestinian militant group Hamas to endorse Obama (the circumstances of which Klein has yet to fully explain) to tying him to Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi (even though Obama's Republican opponent, John McCain, had similar ties that Klein mostly ignored).

Obama handily defeated McCain in November 2008 -- arguably a public repudiation of the kind of tactics Klein engaged in -- but Klein seems not to have noticed. In fact, Klein redoubled his guilt-by-association methods, but with a new focus: communism and socialism.

As ConWebWatch previously reported, a Dec. 5, 2008, article by Klein mined a blog post by a former Weatherman member, Jeff Jones, to baselessly present speculation that Obama "is 'feigning' a centrist position on some issues so he can ultimately push through a radical agenda" as indisputable fact. But Jones has no connection whatsoever to Obama, despite Klein's attempt to suggest otherwise.

On Dec. 21, 2008, Klein tarred labor secretary-designee Rep. Hilda Solis as having "close ties to U.S. communist and socialist organizations" because ... she once sent a representative to a gathering of socialists 12 years ago, and because socialists have allegedly said nice things about her.

Klein used a Jan. 19 article to once again raise the specter of "anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi" and his alleged connections to Obama. But nowhere did Klein mention that Khalidi has ties to prominent Republicans including McCain.

In a Feb. 11 article, Klein cited "the leader of the Communist Party USA" as claiming that Obama is "considering" a "radical agenda to nationalize the U.S. financial system, the Federal Reserve Bank, and private industries." Klein somehow fails to mention that the leader of the Communist Party USA is not a member of the Obama administration and cannot be plausibly portrayed as speaking for Obama.

That sparked a Pavlovian response from WND columnist Janet Porter, who immediately cited Klein's article as evidence that Obama is not just a communist but a sleeper agent, which she further illustrated with an unsubstantiated claim purportedly made by an unidentified Russian that Obama "is one of us, a Soviet."

Misleadingly presenting such guilt-by-association evidence, though, is Klein's stock in trade:

  • A March 1 article cited a speech "a gathering sponsored by the official newspaper of the Community Party USA" that Obama represents "one of the best opportunities that Americans have had in decades" on the issue of civil rights. Klein doesn't explain why he apparently considers civil rights to be a communist concept.
  • In an April 5 article, Klein published the musings of "one of the founders of the Weathermen terrorist organization," Mark Rudd, as an attempt to paint Obama as a radical, even though Klein has never presented evidence that Obama has ever been in the same room as Rudd or even knows the man's name. This was an apparent follow-up to a guilt-by-association article Klein published the previous September asserting that Rudd "is a signatory to an independent organization acting to ensure the election of" Obama.
  • Klein complained in April 20 article that Rosa Brooks, a former newspaper columnist who is now an adviser to an undersecretary of defense, once "claimed the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel arguments for prosecuting the war on terrorism were similar to tactics used by Hitler." At no point does Klein acknowledge, let alone object to, the numerous smears of Obama-as-Nazi his employer has published. The headline for Klein's article misleadingly asserts, "Pentagon official blames U.S. for al-Qaida attacks." Brooks claimed no such thing, and Klein himself doesn't make that specific claim; he writes that Brooks' statement that "Today, the chickens are coming home to roost" is evidence that Brooks "inferred attacks against the U.S. were a result of torture policies." Of course, WND itself published a similar blame-America column after the 9/11 attacks that it ultimately deleted from its website without explanation.

Klein got even more tangental in a June 19 article whose headline shouts: "Obama tied to Ayers ... at age 11." That's the first clue we're in for yet another desperate smear job.

Klein's story is about a the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, "where President Obama attended Sunday school," which apparently has a history of "political activism." Klein then slips into screed territory, declaring that church as "a far-left activist church that may have helped provide the president's initial political education" -- specifically, that the church "served as a sanctuary for draft dodgers and was strongly tied to the Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, during the time Weatherman radical Bill Ayers was a leader in that organization. The Weathermen was an offshoot of the SDS." And therein lies Klein's desperate Obama smear:

The SDS connection to Obama's boyhood church is instrumental. During last year's presidential campaign, Obama notoriously brushed off Ayers' extremism as irrelevant since most of the Weathermen radical's violent actions were carried out when Obama was a kid.

Klein offered no evidence that the SDS carried out any "violent actions" when Ayers "was a leader in that organization" -- or any violent actions at all, for that matter, let alone did any of that at the church Obama attended. Nor did Klein offer any evidence that Obama was actually exposed to any SDS activities as a child, though he ominously asserted that Obama "likely learned values during his Sunday school days at the First Unitarian in the early 1970s."

Klein then went completely off the conspiratorial rails. Among the evidence he cited for the church's activities as "a hotbed of far-leftist activism," Klein states that the church was "instrumental in founding the League of Women Voters." The League of Women Voters is a "far-leftist activist" organization?

In July, following an incident involving Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and local police -- and, specifically, after President Obama commented on it -- Klein engaged in a near-constant effort to smear and discredit Gates as an extremist and tie him around Obama's neck, penning at least five articles on Gates that attempt to link him to various "radical black activists" and even denigrating pioneering black scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, whose namesake institute at Harvard Gates heads, as little more than "an avowed communist and also a socialist sympathizer." Klein even dredged up a 1996 speech in which Gates "uses the N-word." Such smear jobs are what WorldNetDaily does to people who run afoul of its far-right, anti-Obama ideology.

Klein continued to go far afield in an Aug. 23 article asserting that Obama "participated in a controversial 1990s political party with a socialist agenda." But Klein's assertion of "participation" is way overstated: He reports that he was listed in "the party's official newspaper" as a member of the New Party, which seems to be contradicted by his quoting of a New Party official that Obama met with a party subcommittee "to see if his stand on the living wage and similar reforms was the same as ours," and that Obama was not a member of the New Party "in any practical way."

But Klein insisted there was "qualifying language" involved, because while Obama never signed a contract to become an official member of the party, the party official said "we simply affirmed there was no need to do so, because on all the key points, the stand of his campaign and the New Party reform planks were practically the same."

The only real victim of Klein's re-baiting crusade thus far has been Van Jones, appointed by the Obama White House as a "green jobs czar." Klein reported in April -- based on a claim made by a right-wing New Zealand blogger -- that Jones was an "admitted radical communist and black nationalist leader." Klein continued to hammer away at Jones, but it wasn't until Fox News host Glenn Beck started repeating the allegations that they gained any traction. After an organization Jones cofounded, Color of Change, launched an advertiser boycott of Beck's show, causing dozens of advertisers to flee, Beck's attacks intensified.

Jones ultimately resigned his position shortly after it was revealed that he signed a petition asking for an investigation of whether the Bush administration “deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war.” Unsurprisingly, WND rushed to take credit; Joseph Farah gloated that WND "first broke the Van Jones story in April and relentlessly pursued it for five months to the bitter end." No, actually, it was a blog in New Zealand that "broke" the Jones story; Klein merely copied it, and even then it was mostly ignored until Beck latched onto it.

But Farah's not one to let facts get in the way of his gloating. He went on to absurdly add, "Once there was a story of a blue dress. Now there's the story of a red czar," as if a presidential sex scandal and the controversial beliefs of a low-level administration official could ever be considered equal.

By then, Klein was off constructing a grand unification theory of red-baiting. As he wrote in a Sept. 8 article:

Was Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama's closest advisers, introduced to the president's political circles by her father-in-law, a communist sympathizer who worked with the radical Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis?

Jarrett reportedly interviewed Obama's former environmental adviser Van Jones for his White House position from which he resigned this past weekend.

Davis is the "controversial labor movement activist" whom WND's Jerome Corsi thinks is Obama's real father, as ConWebWatch has detailed.

Klein has reverted to some of his old anti-Muslim smears from time to time to attack the Obama administration. A Jan. 27 article asserted that Obama "hailed a so-called 'Saudi Peace Initiative,' which offers normalization of ties with the Jewish state in exchange for extreme Israeli concessions." But the Obama excerpt Klein included in his article clearly demonstrates that Obama did not "hail" or "trumpet" it in the way Klein has portrayed it. In the quote Klein includes from Obama's "interview with an Arab television network" -- which Klein bizarrely can't bring himself to identify by name (it's al-Arabiya) -- Obama stated that "I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal." Further, it's clear from the full transcript of the interview, which Klein did not include in his article, that Obama was speaking in terms of a peace process that would cover the entire Middle East region, not the narrow endorsement of every aspect of the Saudi Peace Initiative that Klein suggests. Further, Klein also ignored the fact that Obama stated his support for Israel. After Klein cut off Obama's remarks, Obama said:

Now, Israel is a strong ally of the United States. They will not stop being a strong ally of the United States. And I will continue to believe that Israel's security is paramount. But I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side.

And so what we want to do is to listen, set aside some of the preconceptions that have existed and have built up over the last several years. And I think if we do that, then there's a possibility at least of achieving some breakthroughs.

Klein also asserted that "Defenders of Israel warn the plan would leave the Jewish state with truncated, difficult-to-defend borders and could threaten Israel's Jewish character by compelling it to accept millions of foreign Arabs." But Klein quotes no one making such claims, nor does he explain why he makes the assumption that a supporter of the plan, or peace in the Middle East as a whole, equals not being a "defender of Israel."

A Feb. 24 article attacked Chas Freeman, nominated by Obama to head the National Intelligence Council, as once having "business ties to Osama bin Laden's family." But in baselessly suggesting that Freeman is tied to Osama bin Laden, Klein fails to report relevant details showing the lack of connection between Osama's terrorism and the bin Laden family's business interests. In fact, Osama's brother Bakr bin Laden, chairman of the family construction firm, publicly renounced Osama bin Laden in a statement released to the media in February 1994. Instead, Klein claimed that "some bin Laden factions have not disowned Osama" -- but never bothers to prove his implication that Freeman is in any way associated with those "factions."

Klein's fellow conservatives denounced such tactics. Newsmax's Ronald Kessler, for example, wrote on March 11 that tying Freeman to bin Laden was "unfair" and a "non sequitur," pointing out where Klein wouldn't that "Years before bin Laden began attacking American interests, his family severed ties with him when Saudi Arabia expelled him and confiscated his assets."

Yet Klein didn't give up his tangental smears. Klein claimed in a Feb. 25 article that Freeman "once peddled a book to U.S. public schools that falsely claims Muslims inhabited North America far before European explorers." But Klein offers no evidence at Freeman personally "peddled" this book, as he states. Rather, all Klein offers is that the organization Freeman heads, the Middle East Policy Council, once promoted it. (Freeman later withdrew his nomination.)

Ultimately, this particular branch of WorldNetDaily's anti-Obama activism -- which also includes its leading role in the birther movement, as well as regularly likening him to Nazis -- is little more than red-baiting and McCarthyism. Will WND be demanding a new congressional Committee on Un-American Activities next?

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