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Monday, December 24, 2007
Aaron Klein Gets Basic Facts Wrong
Topic: WorldNetDaily

(Updated)

A Dec. 24 WorldNetDaily column by Aaron Klein attacked "a widely circulated piece by Associated Press writers Dion Nissenbaum and Cliff Churgin" for "paint[ing] a picture that squarely blames Israel" for the plight of Christians in Bethlelem.

Klein gets a basic fact wrong. Nissenbaum and Churgin don't work for the AP; they work for McClatchy Newspapers.

Now, here's a challenge for WND: Should it decide to correct Klein's factual error, will it admit the error to its readers -- as the vast majority of news outlets do when they correct a factual error in their news copy -- or will it silently make the change without alerting its readers? (We have screenshots, so we can document any before-and-after work.) The same error appears in a version of Klein's column appearing at Ynetnews.com.

Klein also misrepresents Nissenbaum and Churgin's article, though we don't expect WND to correct that. Klein writes, "The piece implied the wall caused the crash of Bethlehem's economy and prompted Christians to flee." Klein knows from implying things, since he got caught implying that Fox News paid a ransom for two of its journalists kidnapped in Gaza and had to walk it back, all the while insisting that he never implied such a thing: "I cannot stand idly by while others misrepresent and falsify my words to wrongly smear America's best cable news network."

That hasn't stopped Klein from misrepresenting Nissenbaum and Churgin's reporting, though. In fact, they offered some evidence for their suggestion -- the pastor of a Baptist church in Bethlehem, who said, "Building of the wall has prevented people from finding work. People see there are better opportunities outside the country," and a sociologist who said, "The answer is not religious. ... Rather it's a political, economic phenomenon, and unless there is political stability and economic prosperity, the more skilled, prosperous Palestinians will be leaving — both Christians and Muslims."

While Klein goes on an anti-Muslim tirade, implying (there's that word again) that Nissenbaum and Churgin laid no blame on Muslims for tensions in Bethlehem, he fails to note that the article did state this: "The steady influx of Muslims has brought more conservative values to Bethlehem and created periodic tensions, especially among Christians, who sometimes feel like a beleaguered minority."

Klein offers no evidence that the border wall did not play a factor in Bethlehem's decline, instead blaming those filthy Muslims: "Israel built the barrier five years ago. But Bethlehem's Christian population started to drastically decline in 1995, the very year Arafat's Palestinian Authority took over the holy Christian city in line with the U.S.-backed Oslo Accords." 

Klein is in no position to judge others' reporting when he can't even get basic facts straight in his own.

UPDATE: WND took the coward's way out, correcting Nissenbaum and Churgin's employer to McClatchy -- though at this writing there's still a reference to "the AP piece" -- while not telling its readers of the change or admitting Klein got it wrong in the first place. (Ynet has changed it too, also without noting the change.) And as we promised if WND addressed this in a dishonest manner, here's a screenshot of Klein's original, false claim.

I guess we can take this as a sign that someone at WND (and, apparently, Ynet) reads ConWebWatch, even if they would never admit it publicly or give us any credit for pointing out the shortcomings in their editorial processes. It's a Christmas miracle!

UPDATE 2: Here's a screenshot of the original Ynet article (via Google cache) with with the AP references. 


Posted by Terry K. at 10:38 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, December 25, 2007 10:47 AM EST

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