On Jan. 18, Jim Jones, a former Idaho attorney general and former state Supreme Court chief justice, issued a press release as part of a speech at a local service club criticizing right-wing reporters who "have engaged in fear-mongering in order to portray refugees, and particularly those from Syria, as a danger to our country." He added: "Breitbart News, World Net Daily and others have played fast and loose with the truth and should not be regarded as credible. They have unfairly attacked the College of Southern Idaho refugee program, Twin Falls government officials, and Chobani, which has been a wonderful addition to the community. We should not tolerate this type of conduct by outsiders."
The WND reporter who perpetrated that fearmongering, Leo Hohmann, didn't take that very well. WND PR guy Paul Bremmer used a Jan. 23 article to give a platform to Hohmann to retaliate and smear local officials as "corrupt":
“I stand by all of my reporting on the Twin Falls, Idaho, sexual assault of a helpless 5-year-old girl by a group of refugee boys, one of whom was filming the heinous crime in real time,” Hohmann declared.
“I got my facts from the only eyewitness to the crime, an elderly grandmother who saw the crime in progress and stopped it from proceeding to an even more disgusting end. I also interviewed the parents of the child. The father had viewed the video showing the molestation of his daughter.”
Hohmann said his reporting stood in contrast to the reporting of local media, which “chose to get their so-called ‘facts’ from corrupt local officials, who were either intimidated or in the pocket of Obama officials like Idaho U.S. attorney Wendy Olson.”
“As if it weren’t derelict enough for a newspaper to rely on the word of public officials, these so-called ‘journalists’ in Idaho and in nearby Spokane, Washington, had the audacity to go a step further and attack those of us who were doing our journalistic jobs and questioning the authorities, calling our reporting ‘conspiracy theories,'” he said.
“It seems clear to me, when looking back, that the establishment media in Idaho and Washington were the ones engaged in conspiracy reporting by their reckless disregard for the truth and their callous treatment of the victim and her family. They chose to bow to the pressure of bullies like the Obama-appointed Wendy Olson,” he said.
“It was Olson who issued a threat to prosecute anyone who made statements about the perpetrators that she considered false or inflammatory. She later walked back from that statement after some powerful condemnations from First Amendment advocates.”
Hohmann noted Jones did not mention any specific facts he believed either WND or Breitbart had misreported. Instead, the former Idaho official resorted to ad hominem attacks on the two news outlets.
“The public found out, through our reporting, just whose side these corrupt officials in Idaho are on,” Hohmann continued. “The police chief, the mayor, the local prosecuting attorney Grant Loebs, Wendy Olson and now Mr. Jones have made it clear that they are more concerned about offending the groups resettling refugees in the state than they about protecting public safety.
“Because they are so invested in the continuation of resettlements in Idaho, we can expect their assaults on the truth to continue.”
As we documented, WND did get reporting on the Twin Falls assault case wrong. It originally falsely reported that "Syrian refugees" attacked the girl at knifefpoint. The first WND article on the case to carry Hohmann's byline is oddly defensive, blaming others (but not himself or WND) for early false reports and hammering home the claim that "an attack did occur and it was perpetrated by Muslim migrants" (even though he had written a few paragraphs earlier that the juvenile suspects' "migrant" identity was "not yet confirmed"). And Hohmann's reporting relies much more on screeds from anti-Muslim activists in Idaho than alleged eyewitnesses to the crime.
Hohmann does not back up his claim that local officials are "corrupt," which seems to open him and WND up to libel action. Hohmann touted WND's house lawyer, Daniel Horowitz, laughably accusing Olson of "making terrorist threats against American citizens" for asking that people like Hohmann stop lying about Muslims. Hohmann never explains where the right to tell lies resides in the First Amendment.
Bremmer and Hohmann curiously omit the part of Jones' statement referencing Chobani, the yogurt maker with a plant in Twin Falls, Idaho -- presumably because Hohmann has been busted for false reporting on it by none other than Snopes, which pointed out that Hohmann used "a confusing number of metrics and purported statistics" to fearmonger about "Muslims from Syria" coming to work at the Chobani plant in an article he wrote last January.
Of course, the real reason Hohmann is flailing back at Idaho officials is because his anti-Muslim book "Stealth Invasion" comes out this week, and he and Bremmer see nothing wrong with milking a little publicity out of the bias.