NewsBusters' Double Standard on Conflicts of Interest Topic: NewsBusters
A June 15 NewsBusters post by John Williams complains that "NPR’s rising young celebrity-like star Ari Shapiro, White House Correspondent," has been allowed to stay in that position despite the fact that his spouse, Michael Gottlieb, works in the Obama White House Counsel’s office. "Despite this, NPR has kept Shapiro in the same position as White House Correspondent and has never disclosed on-air or on its website this significant conflict of interest," Williams adds.
Williams' complaint might be taken more seriously if he and his fellow NewsBusters weren't ignoring media conflicts of interest on their own side of the aisle.
In a NewsBusters item posted just a few hours before Williams' item, Randy Hall touts how Fox News host Greta Van Susteren is "delighted" to have Sarah Palin back at Fox as a contributor because "it will drive her critics crazy! They are obsessed with her!”
Unmentioned by Hall or anyone else at NewsBusters: Van Susteren's husband, John Coale, has served as an adviser to Palin, starting both her political action committee, SarahPAC, and her legal defense fund. Coale also rode along with Palin on parts of her 2011 bus tour.
That seems like a conflict of interest that should be disclosed, but NewsBusters is apparently giving Van Susteren a pass because she works for a right-wing-friendly channel.
A June 13 WorldNetDaily article used the hook of a (Hebrew-only) profile of Aaron Klein in an Israeli newspaper to push the dubious claim that Klein is "quickly becoming somewhat of a media sensation – in Israel." The article features this interesting tidbit:
Klein told the paper why he thinks covering the U.S. while living in Tel Aviv is advantageous.
“I have a major advantage being in Israel,” Klein told the Post. “For example when a child is raised in a dysfunctional household, sometimes he doesn’t realize the reality of the situation until he leaves and takes a look at things from the outside. Being here in Israel I have the advantage of exploring U.S. politics with a proper perspective, where I can see things far more clearly.”
What have WND readers gotten from Klein's "proper persective" of covering the U.S. while living halfway across the world?
CNS Repeats Bogus Claim About Obama Administration Salaries Topic: CNSNews.com
At CNSNews.com, a good lie about President Obama is always worth repeating.
In a June 10 CNS blog post, Joe Schoffstall wrote that "The White House is calling for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, citing that women earn just 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts," but "the Obama Administration doesn't seem to live up to its own words; as men are paid 13 percent more than women in the administration."
As we pointed out when CNS' Fred Lucas made the same exact claim earlier this year that Schoffstall regurgitates, PolitiFact detailed how the simple salary division by gender is that it doesn't take into account the types of jobs being done and the much more important question of whether women are making the same as men for the same job. In most of the White House job categories held by more than one person, most show no difference between pay for men and women, eight categories showed a man slightly outearning a woman, and six categories showed a woman outearning a man.
But apparently, as long as the misleading statistics bash Obama, that's whaty Schoffstall and CNS will run with.
WND Columnist Promotes 'Pork-Infused' Ammo Topic: WorldNetDaily
Jeff Knox writes in his June 13 WorldNetDaily column:
So how do you deal with religious extremists who believe that dying for their faith is an Express Ticket to Paradise? Killing them seems to just give them what they think they want. Only wounding them, as in this recent case, leaves the messy business of a public trial, and in a “civilized” country like England, where they have abolished the death penalty, it means that these young men will probably live out their lives as wards of the government, living martyrs for their cause and teachers for future generations of young Muslim hooligans who will sit at their feet in taxpayer-funded, prison “Islamic study centers.”
A company in northern Idaho has come up with a culturally sensitive approach. Jihawg Ammo has developed a proprietary system for infusing ballistic paint with pork. The special pork-infused paint is then applied to the bullets of loaded ammunition. The inclusion of pork in the paint makes the bullets haraam, or unclean. Under Islamic law, anyone who comes in contact with any haraam item is then unclean and must engage in a cleansing ritual. No unclean person can be admitted into Paradise. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 72 virgins.
Knox then laughably adds:
The objective of Jihawg Ammo is not to insult Muslims, nor even to send a terrorist to Hell. The objective is to serve as a deterrent – to place the promise of instant passage to Paradise into doubt. Without the promise of Paradise, how many Muslim literalists would be willing to lay their lives – and eternal souls – on the line to engage in acts of terrorism?
Does anyone think even Knox believes that? We doubt it, because he thinks that his readers can be "thought-leaders" on this:
Readers of this column are in the unique position of being among the first to learn of this new, pork-painted ammunition, and as such have the opportunity to be thought-leaders on the social merits of the product. As a broader audience begins to learn about Jihawg Ammo, there will undoubtedly be much debate of the "cultural insensitivity" of the product and its makers. In anticipation of that debate, the folks at Jihawg ask how culturally insensitive it is to slaughter innocents in the name of one's religion?
This time, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson is the one who has committed the offense of failing to be unquestioningly loyal to his fellow conservatives, and once again it's the Media Research Center's Tim Graham at the head of the Heather patrol:
Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson – President George W. Bush’s top speechwriter from 2001 to 2006 – was hired by the Post in 2007 because he would be “a different kind of conservative” and "an independent voice." Translation: he would slash other people on the right as dishonest, dishonorable, unpatriotic people. He has not attacked talk-show hosts on MSNBC or other leftists this way.
In his Friday column, Gerson whacked Ron Paul, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin with these harsh attacks.
Not only did Graham solicit a response from Levin -- who predictably whined that "Gerson is a big-government quasi-Republican who twisted what I said" -- Graham then shifts into Heather overdrive:
Dear Mr. Gerson: you are certainly aware that liberals routinely crossed the line and referred to a Bush "regime" after the "tick-tight" 2000 election. It wasn't just a sixties-seventies thing. (Former Postie Daniel Froomkin loved the term "Bush regime" when he worked there.)
So Gerson has the audacity to suggest that Limbaugh, Levin, and Paul are guilty of the “poisoning of patriotism,” and are “noxious...dishonest...dishonorable.”
One might suspect a bad case of David Brooks-itis, defined as more affiliated with your liberal newspaper masters than with conservatives. So Gerson began his column at the Post on May 16, 2007. From that date through Obama’s first Inauguration, let’s try some Nexis searching.
Did Gerson attack or even mention Keith Olbermann? No. Chris Matthews? No. Rachel Maddow in her Air America-to-MSNBC phase? No. Even MSNBC in general? No. Could that be because his Post masters had a content-sharing “strategic alliance” with MSNBC? Hmmmmm.
What about other Bush haters in the liberal media, people who called President Bush a dictator? Did Gerson call out CNN’s Jack Cafferty? No. Eleanor Clift? No. Jonathan Alter? No. Bill Maher? No. Michael Moore? No.
Perhaps Gerson is simply allergic to attacking the liberal media in general, because that’s where he sits now. Perhaps attacking Limbaugh and Levin make his case for subbing in for pseudo-conservative David Brooks on the Friday roundtable at the PBS NewsHour, and attacks on liberal journalists would not. He hasn’t attacked PBS, either. His outrage is laced with opportunism.
And Graham's outrage isn't? He's simply trying to boost his (and his employer's) conservative cred for bashing a fellow consevative who had the temerity to slip of out lockstep with the right-wing agenda. That's not media criticism -- you know, Graham's supposed job -- but being an ideological whip.
And we're pretty sure the MRC's nonprofit status isn't supposed to be funding that sort of thing.
The Dishonorable Patrick Brady Spews More Hate Topic: WorldNetDaily
Dishonorable liar Patrick Brady is at it again, spewing more anti-gay and anti-Obama hate in a June 13 WorldNetDaily column:
Our Army has been housed in communities of like-minded patriots separate and independent from the communities of America. The functions of those communities – schools, commissaries PXs, churches, theaters and clubs – all reflect our unique military discipline and values.
Enter Mr. Obama, a progressive moralist, who introduced homosexual conduct into barracks, military communities and foxholes, and transformed our military from heterosexual to quad-sexual (homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender). As if that weren’t enough, he is now putting females in foxholes much to the delight of our future battlefield enemies. With these changes will come a change in standards: physical for women and moral for Christians.
We are already seeing attacks on Christians and conservatives in the military. How can a military chaplain, Christian or Muslim, not teach the truths of the Bible on sodomy? Mr. Obama and his military sycophants must silence them. And it has begun. The Boy Scouts have been a kind of mini-military, and they face the same moral dilemma. How can they be morally straight when their leadership (essentially to protect their salaries) introduces fornication, by definition, into their ranks?
Unless America wakes up and stops this insanity, we will be celebrating the Army’s 239th birthday on Army posts, camps and stations peopled by same-sex couples in gay, lesbian and bisexual clubs where fraternization and adultery are indefinable – as is discipline. Homosexual health, deployment and blood issues will enter battle planning. Soldiers will see their chain of command dancing and romancing other men – or women, or both. I wonder if Mr. Obama believes that the sight of him dancing with other men at state functions would be inconsequential. The military will become a sexual and moral morass with readiness in shambles.
Is such contemptible hatred really the best behavior one should expect from a Medal of Honor winner such as Brady?
CNS' Starr Falsely Claims Sanford Resigned After Affair Was Discovered Topic: CNSNews.com
Writing about Rep. Mark Sanford's claim that government overspending is a "moral issue," Penny Starr stated in a June 14 CNSNews.com article that "Sanford resigned as governor of South Carolina in 2009 after he revealed that he was having an extra-marital affair."
That's false. Sanford did not resign, and he finished out his term in January 2011. He was censured by the South Carolina legislature after impeachment efforts failed.
UPDATE: The entire paragraph containing Starr's false claim has since been removed, which now means that the article no longer contains a reference to Sanford's extramarital affair beyond Sanford's only vague references to "failures." CNS also failed to alert its readers that the article was altered from its original publication or formally issue a correction or apology.
It happens in China routinely. It frequently happened in the old Soviet Union. Undoubtedly in North Korea, although generally there’s no one around to witness it. But in the United States? It happens here, too, apparently.
A lawsuit has been filed by officials with the Rutherford Institute on behalf of a Marine who was jailed and held for the comments he made on Facebook – comments that expressed a dissatisfaction with the present direction of the U.S. government.
According to officials at Rutherford, the civil rights action names as defendants members of law enforcement and the government who were involved in last year’s episode where Marine veteran Brandon Raub, 27, was arrested by a swarm of FBI and Secret Service and forcibly detained in a psychiatric ward for a week.
His crime was posting controversial song lyrics and political views on Facebook, the institute reported.
But the article fails to mention, as the Associated Press did, that one of those "controversial song lyrics" was the line "Sharpen my axe; I'm here to sever heads." That's a line from the obscure Canadian hip-hop group Swollen Members. The rest of the song, "Bring Me Down," also contains lyrics that could be construed as disturbing:
They'll say I'm a killer I feel I'm as high as I can be And now they gon' die as high as me I can't be no realer Y'all ain't gon' bring me down [3X] I can't be no realer; y'all ain't gon' bring me down
WND also fails to mention that Raub has expressed truther beliefs on his website -- that the U.S. government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks. According to the AP, one of Raub's Facebook posts pictured the gaping hole in the Pentagon and asked "where's the plane?"
WND selectively quoted from a Raub posting in which he wrote that “The United States was meant to lead the charge against injustice, but through our example not our force. People do not respond to having liberty and freedom forced on them," but made no mention that it's part of a larger rant in which he rails against the Federal Reserve and the income tax and states:
You elected an aristocracy. They are beholden to special interests. They were brainwashed through the Council on Foreign Relations. Your leaders are planning to merge the United States into a one world banking system. They want to put computer chips in you.
These men have evil hearts. They have tricked you into supporting corporate fascism. We gave them the keys to our country. We were not vigilant with our republic.
There is hope. BUT WE MUST TAKE OUR REPUBLIC BACK.
Jerome Corsi performs a similar whitewashing job in a June 11 WND article, claiming that Raub merely made Facebook comments "expressing dissatisfaction with the present direction of the U.S. government." Corsi makes no effort to tell readers what Raub actually said.
Instead, Corsi tries to extrapolate into a larger, unproven claim by Raub's attorney that "The NSA is systematically monitoring the Internet posts and telephone conversations of U.S. military returning from Afghanistan."
Given Raub's disturbing postings, it's easy to see why they raised red flags. Instead, WND would rather protect someone who says such things. But then, they have promoted child abusers and stalkers, so why wouldn't they?
MRC Thinks Transgenders Are Just 'Pretending' Topic: Media Research Center
In the midst of a rant about whether a transgender high school student should use the bathroom that's the opposite of their biological sex, Lauren Enk writes in a June 12 NewsBusters post:
Let’s get this straight (no pun intended). The person in question is not a girl. He is a boy. Despite [New Republic writer Adam] Winkler’s insistence on using “she” and “her” to refer to Nicole Maines, the fact is that “Nicole” is a boy who “identifies as” – read, pretends to be – a girl. No matter how you slice it, the truth remains that he is a boy.
But Winkler wants him to be able to legally indulge his delusion and use the girls’ bathroom.
As the American Psychological Association notes, "Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else." They are not "pretending" to be the opposite sex; it is who they think they are, regardless of their biological orientation.
And it seems that trained professionals are in a much better position to determine whether a given person's identifying as the opposite sex is a "delusion" than a writer for a right-wing organization with an anti-gay agenda.
WND Doesn't Know What Amnesty Means Topic: WorldNetDaily
A June 9 WorldNetDaily article by John Bennett begins:
“Each person’s God-given dignity” requires amnesty for illegal aliens.
So says a new radio advertisement by an organization called Evangelical Immigration Table.
The pro-amnesty radio ad can be heard online, and will be airing in 13 key states.
In fact, the ad calls for "immigration solutions that respect each person's God-given dignity, respect the rule of law, protect family unity, guarantee secure borders, ensure fairness to taxpayers, and establish a path toward citizenship." None of this is "amnesty" by the traditional definition of the word, which implies no preconditions. Bennett offers no evidence that the EIT's approach to immigration reform lacks preconditions.
Still, Bennett went on to huff:
If current illegal aliens must be granted citizenship because of their “God-given dignity,” then later illegal aliens must also be granted citizenship for the same reason. The EIT ads did not state or imply that there was any limitation on the role of “God-given dignity” in creating an entitlement to citizenship.
But the ad does not cite "God-given dignity" as the only criteria for an "entitlement to citizenship" -- it advocates a comprehensive approach, which, again, is not "amnesty."
Bennett makes no effort to explain how any of this could be defined as "amnesty" -- he's simply baselessly declaring that any immigration reform is "amnesty."
NewsBusters' Matt Vespa Lies About Samantha Power Topic: NewsBusters
In addition to writing for NewsBusters, Matt Vespa also has a blog at PJ Media. In a June 6 PJ Media post, Vespa falsely claimed that Samantha Power, President Obama's nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "endorsed an invasion of Israel to prevent future genocide."
In fact, as the transcript of the Power conversation Vespa includes in his item makes clear, Power was talking about the need for a "mammoth protection force" to keep the peace if "at least if one party or another" starts "moving toward genocide" in a Middle East with a Palestinian state in order to prevent a "Rwanda scenario." At no point does Power even mention invading Israel, let alone endorse it.
Despite being proven wrong by his own blog, Vespa concluded by sneering, "For the 70% of American Jews that voted for Obama in 2012, I hope you’re happy."
No, Jerome Corsi, People Are Not Being Punished For Criticizing Obama Topic: WorldNetDaily
Jerome Corsi uses a June 10 WorldNetDaily article to tell a one-sided story:
The U.S. attorney who warned last week that “inflammatory speech” against Islam could violate civil-rights laws was the prosecutor who brought firearms charges against a Navy veteran who challenged the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate.
The Navy veteran, Darren Huff, came on the federal government’s radar in 2010 when another Navy veteran living in Tennessee, Walt Fitzpatrick, attempted to file criminal actions in court charging President Obama with treason. The veterans claimed Obama assumed the presidency while refusing to prove he was born in Hawaii by presenting to the American public a 1961 original long-form Hawaii birth certificate that could be independently authenticated by court-recognized document experts.
According to the Department of Justice website, Huff, on April 20, 2010, traveled from his home in Dallas, Ga., to Madisonville, Tenn., upset at the refusal of the grand jury in Monroe County, Tenn., to indict Obama for treason. He allegedly carried with him a .45 caliber handgun and an AK-47 with ammunition for both weapons and subsequently was arrested.
“Huff told people that day that he had 300-400 rounds of ammunition with the AK-47,” the DOJ website said. “During a traffic stop by a Tennessee State Trooper on his way to Madisonville, Huff stated, ‘I’ve got my .45 because ain’t no government official gonna go peacefully.’”
Huff was sentenced in U.S. District court to serve four years in prison following a criminal conviction for transporting firearms across state lines with the intent to cause a civil disorder. He currently has currently some 22 months of his prison sentence.
Sharon Rondeau, editor of The Post and Email, who has reported on the case since 2010, contends Huff was framed.
“Huff was stopped by the Tennessee state police trooper for allegedly running a stop sign on his way to Madisonville on April 20, 2010, and was allowed to continue on his way after locking his legally-owned firearms in his truck toolbox,” Rondeau argued in an email to WND.
“Huff arrived in Madisonville unarmed and had lunch at a restaurant, then returned home uneventfully. No one was arrested or named as having carried a gun into town that day. Surprisingly, he was arrested ten days later on two federal firearms charges. There has been no police footage showing that Huff was doing anything wrong. There were no plots or accomplices. It was all fabricated by the government.”
The Post and Email is a very birther-friendly website, so it makes sense that Corsi would trust it without question. Because Corsi has chosen to trust such a clearly biased source, he leaves out certain pertinent details.
As we detailed the last time WND came to Huff's defense, Talking Points Memo reported that Huff had intended to take over a county courthouse in Tennessee and conduct citizens arrests on local judges and politicians. Since he clearly declared his violent intent, whether or not he actually carried it out is irrelevant, because declared intent to carry out a violent act is itself a crime. Huff was convicted of transporting firearms across state lines with the intent to cause a civil disorder, which is clearly what he did.
Corsi also writes:
Rondeau said Huff “was framed by an FBI agent’s affidavit which was based only on hearsay evidence emanating from unnamed Monroe County officials; by members of The Fogbow, who called in false threats to the Madisonville mayor that Huff had planned to ‘take over the courthouse’ on April 20, 2010; and a massive deployment of FBI, local police, sheriffs’ departments, TBI, a SWAT team and snipers present on April 20.”
That is a demonstrable lie. Huff was not "framed" on "hearsay evidence," but due largely to a video of the traffic stop in whcih he stated his intent:
Jurors also heard at length from Huff thanks to a dashboard camera video taken after he was stopped and given a warning for driving too closely. In the tape, Huff chatted for an hour about religion and guns with officers, volunteering many details about what he was planning to do in Tennessee.
"I like y'all," Huff told the officers in the recording.
He said he was motivated to go to Madisonville by Walter Fitzpatrick, a Navy retiree who has had a beef against the federal government since he faced a court martial decades ago.
Fitzpatrick was facing charges in the eastern Tennessee town about halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga because he tried to use a citizen's arrest warrant to take into custody local officials who wouldn't pursue a legal case to oust Obama. Fitzpatrick's warrant called the local officials "domestic enemies" and Obama an "illegal alien, infiltrator and impostor."
Huff said in the video that he and others were ready to help carry out the citizen's arrests Fitzpatrick wanted.
"I've got my .45 because ain't no government official gonna go peacefully," Huff told the police.
Corsi describes Huff only as a "Navy veteran," but he fails to mention that Huff is also a member of a militia-style called Oath Keepers (which WND has insisted is not a militia).
(Corsi also fails to mention, as Wonkette did, that according to the FBI’s “Returned Property” document, the items that were given back to Huff after his arrest included a "one (1) pink dildo with remote," "one (1) DVD containing pornographic material 'Tranny Hunter'," "four (4) condoms," and "one (1) bottle of KY Gel.")
Following up on Rondeau's mention of the Fogbow -- an anti-birther message board -- Corsi writes:
Radical Obama supporters known by their critics as “Obots,” or “Obama Robots,” bragged that some of their colleagues had worked behind the scene to inflame the Huff case. The operatives fed to law enforcement authorities concerns that Fitzgerald and Huff were not patriotic veterans concerned about the Constitution, but right-wing radicals who aimed to incite armed rebellion or acts of violence against the government.
In June 2011, WND reported that William L. Bryan, posting under the username “PJ Foggy,” had created the pro-Obama website Fogbow.com. On the site, various Obots bragged that they promoted Obama birth certificate documents known to be fraudulent.
They also boasted they were responsible for having some 100 armed law enforcement officers, including FBI and DHS agents along with state and local police, present in Madisonville, Tenn., on April 20, 2010, prepared to imagine Fitzgerald and Huff were arriving to implement an armed insurrection.
P.J. Foggy posted on the Fogbow.com website a self-introduction in which he claimed, “We’re the ones who got more than 100 cops ready for Cdr. Walt Fitzpatrick, when he showed up on April 20 with a group of armed men who thought they’d take over the Monroe County courthouse.
Fogbow members have spent a lot of time pointing out Corsi's lies and shoddy reporting. Perhaps that's why Corsi considers them "radical."
What does all of this have to do with criticizing Obama supposedly being punishable? Nothing, really, aside from that silly grand jury that wouldn't indict Obama for treason. As we've previously noted, Fitzpatrick was mostly upset that the same guy has been heading the county's grand jury for 27 years (and wouldn't indict Obama for treason, as if such a claim by a county-level court would be legally binding).
No, Mr. Corsi, Huff and Fitzpatrick weren't punished for criticizing Obama. They were punished for expressing threats of violence and interfering with the government.
MRC's Double Standard on Obituaries Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has a double standard on what should appear in a person's obituary (just has it has as double standard on everything else).
In a June 8 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham complains that "The loving eulogies for Sen. Frank Lautenberg, heavy on the praise for curbing teenage drinking and in-flight smoking, have obscured just how sleazily he regained office in 2002." But that's followed by an admission that New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Democratic Party could replace scandal-tarred Robert Toricelli on the general election ballot with Lautenberg.
However irregular and unorthodox it may be, the replacement of Torricelli with Lautenberg was done legally and approved by New Jersey's highest court, ruling that state law did not prohibit such a switch.
Somehow, we don't think that Graham would call the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Bush v. Gore to be "sleazy" since it produced his desired outcome.
The MRC previously complained that the obituary of the founder of Cracker Barrel restaurants included too much sleazy behavior by mention the chain's historyof anti-gay discrimination, and it thought that the media reporting on the death of Christopher shouldn't have mentioned his scathing criticism of Mother Teresa -- arguably the most notorious thing he ever did -- and instead highlighted how he flipped off the audience at Bill Maher's TV show.
WorldNetDaily's Jack Cashill has given up for now on trying to prove that Barack Obama's books were ghostwritten by Bill Ayers (and it's not because it's not true). He's now glommed onto the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Cashill's bias is pretty obvious so far -- he thinks George Zimmerman is innocent in Martin's death. He's also writing a book on the case that will "be released after the trial."
Meanwhile, Cashill's also promoting the anti-media narrative of Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr. From a June 11 WND article:
Among the first questions Robert received was whether he would continue to send tweets that the media consider provocative or worse. He defended the practice vigorously.
“It’s important to a lot of people who support the family that they have a front row seat,” said Zimmerman. “They don’t trust the media and, I think, rightfully so.”
Zimmerman has a point.
In the first month after the shooting, ABC was caught doctoring a police surveillance video. NBC was caught doctoring the audio of George Zimmerman’s initial call to the police.
But Cashill is strangely silent about those "tweets that the media consider provocative or worse" that Zimmerman has previously sent.Which is strange because WND promoted them at the time they were made.
In a March 27 WND article, Michael Thompson touted how Zimmerman's tweet featuring an image likening Martin to the alleged killer of a baby was "his attempt to correct the establishment media’s false portrayal of the Florida teen in the racially charged case."
But a few hours later after the interview appeared, Zimmerman backed away from his racially charged tweets, admtting they weren't the "right thing to do." CNN added that George Zimmerman's lawyer was furiously trying to distance his client from his brother.
The fact that Cashill is covering up for Robert Zimmerman Jr.'s inflammatory racial attacks is another sure sign of Cashill's bias -- and another reason not to trust anything Cashill writes about the case.
NewsBusters Disingenously Defends FBI Wiretapping of Martin Luther King Topic: NewsBusters
In a June 11 NewsBusters post, Mike Bates takes on a columnist's claim that Martin Luther King Jr. was wiretapped by the FBI "because he was campaigning for civil rights":
That was not the reason for King’s wiretap, which was carried out by the FBI after Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy authorized it on October 10, 1963. Kennedy believed that two of King’s associates had ties to the Communist party.
The AG passed that information to his brother the president. In a May 20, 1963 White House meeting on civil rights, President Kennedy said that "King is so hot that it's like Marx coming to the White House" (approximately at 40:55 of the tape.)
The following month, the president met privately with King at the White House. As detailed in Richard Reeves’s book “President Kennedy,” assistant attorney general of the civil rights division Burke Marshall first told King he would have to get rid of the two advisers. “A paid agent of the Soviet Communist apparatus,” he called one. Then Robert Kennedy spoke with King. According to Reeves, “When it was clear that King did not believe either Marshall or Robert Kennedy, the President took over.” Walking in the Rose Garden alone with the civil rights leader, he put a hand on King’s shoulder and said: “They’re Communists, you’ve got to get rid of them.” King didn't, and wiretapping was then authorized by the administration.
So, no, King wasn’t wiretapped “because he was campaigning for civil rights.” At least not according to the Kennedy brothers.
That's a disingenuous defense. Does Bates really think the FBI would be so interested in King's alleged links to communists if he wasn't campaigning for civil rights? Unlikely.
Addtionally, according to the Atlantic article to which Bates links to support his claim, FBI surveillance of King continued for years after it realized he was no communist (yet leaked misleading reports insisting that he was), and the agency's focus turned from communism to King's "sexual endeavors."
Again, would any of this have happened if King was not a civil rights leader? Unlikely. But Bates apparently thinks otherwise.