Brian Fitzpatrick uses a Jan. 13 WorldNetDaily article to paint a sympathetic portrait of a radiostation owner who, he says, is guilty of merely broadcasting "a commentary acknowledging the smudges on the character of Martin Luther King, Jr.":
Death threats. Character assassination. Public repudiation. Demands to quit the local school board. Infringement on his right to bear arms. A pressure campaign against his advertisers. All for daring to broadcast a commentary acknowledging the smudges on the character of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Greeley, Colo. businessman Brett Reese, a real estate investor and owner of radio station KELS and the Greeley Gazette newspaper, has been weathering the storm since last Friday, when he began twice-daily broadcasts of a listener's commentary questioning whether America should celebrate Martin Luther King Day.
"To me it's a First Amendment right, but apparently in our society you can't pee on the altar of political correctness. That is enough to get you death threats," Reese told WND.
As with most sympathetic profiles WND publishes, a lot of the truth is being left out. For one, the size of Reese's media empire. KELS is a low-power radio station broadcasting at 100 watts, which has a broadcasting radius of around three miles. As for the Greeley Gazette, it appears to be little more than a self-published free publication available at a handful of locations around the city, with a related website.
For another, Fitzpatrick writes about those "smudges":
The controversial five-minute commentary raises a set of historically accurate but rarely acknowledged facts about King, including his repeated sexual infidelities and plagiarism. The commentary refers to King as an "America-hating communist," a charge that is disputed. It also describes King as a "sexual degenerate."
The commentary initially referred to a website that Reese subsequently discovered was linked to a racist organization. After Reese found out about the racism, he removed any mention of the website.
In fact, the entire commentary is derived from a "racist organization." As the Greeley Tribune reported, the commentary, called "The Beast As Saint," was pulled from a website using King's name that is in fact operated by the neo-Nazi group Stormfront. It's disingenous for Fitzpatrick to assert that Reese "removed any mention of the website" from his commentary when the entire commentary is from that same website.
And as you might expect for a rant plucked from a racist website, the factual accuracy of Reese's commentary is somewhat less than "historically accurate." From a letter signed by several Greeley-area pastors (h/t World O'Crap):
As suggested, we did our own research and found the website he referenced is owned by Stormfront, the Internet’s largest forum for racists, white supremacists and Neo-Nazis. Our research also showed that Dr. King’s doctoral thesis was heavily plagiarized and there are in fact conflicting accounts about his infidelity.
However, we also found that contrary to Mr. Reese’s broadcast, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was ordained a Baptist minister in 1948, a real “reverend.” His name was legally changed by his father from Michael to Martin Luther when he was 5.
Boston University did not take away his doctorate degree. The bulk of his “I Have a Dream” speech is his own but the conclusion is borrowed from a family friend’s earlier speech, and while he was wiretapped and investigated for communist ties by the FBI, the documents that have been released through a Freedom of Information Act request show no such ties.
Fitzpatrick, of course, makes no mention of the pastors' letter.
Fitzpatrick goes on to quote one writer for Reese's newspaper fluffing his employer:
Greeley Gazette writer Jack Minor noted that Reese has been broadcasting the commentary for three years, but encountered no complaints until this year.
"This year the only thing that's different is the Gazette," Minor told WND. The conservative-leaning paper is a new publication, and Minor said Colorado politicians have told him the Gazette's presence has forced the rival Greeley Tribune to provide more balanced political coverage.
Minor suggested the MLK tempest is not inspired by genuine outrage over the commentary, but by a desire to discredit the Gazette by smearing Reese. In addition to influencing local news coverage, the Gazette covers the Obama presidential eligibility issue extensively."
What's left out: the fact that Reese was so dumb as to run his commentary for three years without realizing it came from a racist neo-Nazi website. Fitzpatrick also doesn't question why any writer would want to work for an editor so clearly unable to do basic research.
While Fitzpatrick makes a big deal about the purported death threats, he also notes that "Reese declined to describe the threats in detail." Unmentioned: The Greeley police have no record of any death threats against Reese.
It appears Fitzpatrick interviewed only Reese and his supporters for his article. There's no evidence he made any effort to contact any of his critics.
Oh, and one more thing Fitzpatrick doesn't report: According to the Greeley Gazette, "In 2008, [Reese] pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography in a plea bargain. He served slightly less than two years in prison for the conviction."
P.S. Since Fitzpatrick's article was first published, Reese has been stripped of his concealed-weapon permit and had a restraining order placed against him by the owner of another local radio station who claims Reese threatened "shoot-out" over allegations of stealing advertisers. Fitzpatrick has so far not seen fit to write a follow-up.