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Thursday, May 12, 2011
AIM Cherry-Picks In Attack On NY Times Reporter
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Moshe Phillips spends his May 9 Accuracy in Media article attacking New York Times reporter Kareem Fahim, claiming that "A quick review of Fahim’s history provides all the evidence needed to prove that he is not an objective journalist but has very radical views on the War on Terror and related issues." But Phillips is cherry-picking Fahim's reporting and misportraying it.

Phillips writes:

Earlier in his career Fahim wrote for The Village Voice weekly tabloid. The Voice’s radical editorial stance on civil liberties, terrorism and Israel related issues is well documented.

So well documented, it seems, that Phillips can't be bothered to back up his claim. He continues:

Just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, in an article titled “The Emir and His Lieutenant” about Al Qaeda, Fahim referred to the terrorist organization simply as an “extremist group.” Fahim’s writings include apologies for the terrorist network, such as the statement that “Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri have seized on the desperation of the Arab world.” He also quoted a New York University professor who stated the following bit of garbage: “The Islamists present a utopian vision.”

In fact, the article in question is an examination of Bin Laden and Zawahiri became Islamist extremists and is in no way an apology. Phillips selectively edited Fahim's statement that "Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri have seized on the desperation of the Arab world" to hide the fact that, far from being an "apology," Fahim warned that bin Laden and Zawahiri wouldn't stop with 9/11. Here's the full Fahim quote:

Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri have seized on the desperation of the Arab world, cloaked their edenic "solution" in faith, and set a massive trap in the wreckage near Wall Street. Bombing Afghanistan to hell might feel like catharsis, but the threat is elsewhere, and it won't go away with the emir and his lieutenant.

Further, the professor who stated that "The Islamists present a utopian vision" is not endorsing that vision, as Phillips suggests. Again, Phillips is cherry-picking. Here's the full statement, which shows the professor going on to point out that utopian visions never work out in real life:

"The Islamists present a utopian vision," Haykel said. No Islamic group has achieved significant power in an Arab country, so their theories on governance remain largely untested. "The only way that it can burst is if they come to power and show that they don't have the answers to the fundamental questions facing society," he said.

Phillips went on to further attack Fahim:

In 2000 Fahim held a position at the Cairo based weekly newspaper Al-Ahram. reported in 2004 that “Egypt’s Al Ahram Weekly (is) the English-language version of the regime’s own media organ.” Fahim also wrote about Mubarak’s downfall for The Times.

Even here, he demonstrated his bias, treating the selection of Dick Cheney as George W. Bush’s running mate as a “summer surprise” that went against “the logic of positive image-making.” Fahim’s biases are transparent.

Phillips is misleading again. Cheney was, in fact, something of a surprise pick, so much so that adviser Karl Rove argued against it. Fahim was pointing out that the selection of Cheney as vice president "seemed to clash with [George W. Bush's] compassionate campaign." Phillips ignores that Fahim went on to explain why the choice was made: "In the political calculation of Republicans, however, Cheney is a perfect choice. Besides appealing to the conservative base of the party, he provides the weight critics have said Governor Bush lacks."

Phillips is portraying legitimate, mainstream observations as "extremism" and "bias." It's certainly red meat for AIM's readers, but not actual media criticism.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:37 PM EDT

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