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Accuracy for Moonies?

Accuracy in Media defends the Unification Church-owned website that repeated a false smear of Barack Obama, then reprints a screed by its editor.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/13/2007

Is Accuracy in Media throwing its lot in with the Moonies?

In a Feb. 1 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid eagerly defended -- the successor to the now-defunct Insight on the News magazine, owned, like the Washington Times and United Press International, by Unification Church-controlled News World Communications -- over its article that promoted the false claim that Barack Obama attended an extremist Islamic madrassa as a child. Kincaid insisted that the story "cannot be easily dismissed" because Obama's purported Muslim past remains "mysterious" and a CNN report debunking the claim was "hastily-produced and superficial." He added:

Some "progressives" want the public to believe that the story has been proven to be a lie, smear, or hoax. But that is not the case. It is the case that "progressives" want to use this controversy to make conservative media pay for running the story.

But in 2004, Kincaid and AIM did exactly that to CBS' Bush-National Guard story -- dismiss it completely because one part was found questionable, even though many of the allegations raised in the report were not affected by the questionable sourcing of those memos. Kincaid and AIM also used that story to further their attacks on the "liberal media."

For instance, a Sept. 21, 2004, statement by Kincaid claimed that CBS was "caught in the middle of a criminal conspiracy, with links to the Kerry campaign, to use forged documents to bring down an American president." But in his column on the Insight article, Kincaid does not note the prediction of The New Republic's Jason Zengerle, made more than a month before the Insight article appeared, that conservatives will "launch a savage and despicable whispering campaign" against Obama "and then blame it all on Hillary" -- a description that fits the Insight story to a T.

More examples: 

  • A Sept. 30, 2004, Kincaid column called the report "discredited" and accused CBS' Dan Rather of "going to any length to smear the President of the United States." 
  • An Oct. 1, 2004, column asserted that the report "has all the earmarks of a Democratic Party operation, masquerading as 'news,' in order to evade legal limits on contributions to the John Kerry campaign." 
  • A Nov. 15, 2004, column called the CBS report "phony." 
  • A Feb. 16, 2005, AIM Report called the report "discredited" and "bogus."

Yet, for all of its longtime fulminations over the CBS report, nowhere to our knowledge has AIM examined every claim made by the report to determine the accuracy of each and what evidence exists, if any, to support them (and the connection, if any, to the questionable memos). Still, Kincaid declared a debunking of an similar flaw in the Insight report as "superficial." Not exactly a shining example of promoting "accuracy in media."

Insight, meanwhile, is mounting its own defense of its article, insisting in a Feb. 1 post that the real story was not the Obama-madrassa smear but that Hillary Clinton's campaign was researching it. But the original article embraced the Obama claim; it began, "Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?"

Further, Insight insisted its anonymous sources are "very credible," but its readers have no way to judge that. All most people know of News World operations such as Insight and the Washington Times are its pro-Republican, anti-Democrat slant and its veritable hatred of anything Clinton. In fact, in 1997, the magazine version of Insight promoted the false claim that the Clinton administration was giving burial plots at Arlington National Cemetery to campaign donors. Such a history may be a better indicator of the accuracy of the article than any claims of credibility Insight is asserting now.

Such a history of bias and false claims apparently isn't scaring away AIM from taking Insight's side. Kincaid's column defending Insight was followed up by reprinting a Feb. 7 column by Insight editor Jeffrey T. Kuhner that is little more than a screed against the New York Times.

Kuhner began by asserting that the Times "is trying to destroy the reputation of Sean Hannity." How? Apparently having a "feminist libertine" write a sarcastic column about Hannity's visit to a Nevada brothel -- for the noblest of purposes, of course, Kuhner tells us: Hannity "exposed the dangerous and degrading nature of the world's oldest profession." As for the article's description of how Fox News' "camera slowly moves from prostitute to prostitute, lasciviously lingering over the one with the largest, most exposed breasts," Kuhner didn't deny it, but instead responded:

Mr. Hannity is therefore being faulted for showing semi-nude women during his investigation of a Nevada brothel. What was his crew supposed to film--nuns praying the rosary? The story was about the sex trade in America, which means it must inevitably contain sexually explicit images.

Does Kuhner feel the same way about the fleshy goodness that tends to pop up on other Fox News programs?

Kuhner then shifted into full rant mode, hurling one unsupported claim and ad hominem insult after another:

  • "The Times has long ceased to be a credible, objective news organization; rather, it is the ideological print vehicle for America's transnational liberal elites."
  • "In the 1960's, The Times led the charge for U.S. troops to withdraw from Vietnam; its writers promised there would be no real strategic and moral consequences."
  • "Just as Pravda was the official organ for Russia's communist elite, The New York Times is now America's Pravda--full of lies, inaccuracies and ideologically driven news coverage, but essential reading to find out what the next marching orders are for leftist internationalists."
  • "More importantly, just as Pravda writers were unable to understand the failures of communism and what was really happening in the world, The Times--its editors and journalists whose brains are utterly marinated in post-modern liberalism--are unable or unwilling to grasp the emerging collapse of their anti-religious, anti-family, and anti-American worldview."
  • "In the end, Pravda could not sustain the corrupt communist regime; and The Times will also fail to sustain the corrupt liberal regime."

Kuhner even threw a few less-than-truthful claims into the mix:

  • "New York Times' columnist, Anthony Lewis, for example, denied that atrocities were even taking place in Vietnam or Cambodia. He couldn't admit it, for to do so would eviscerate the liberal myth constructed by The Times' editors." In fact, leftists have complained that Lewis was blaming them for Pol Pot's ascendency. An article at Noam Chomsky's ZMag quotes Lewis as writing: "A few Western intellectuals, notably Prof. Noam Chomsky, refused to believe what was going on in Cambodia. At first, at least, they put the reports of killing down to a conspiratorial effort by American politicians and press to destroy the Cambodian revolution."
  • "During the 1990s, no major paper in this country whitewashed and downplayed the myriad scandals plaguing the Clinton administration more than The Times." In fact, as Kincaid himself pointed out, The New York Times ran the first story that raised questions about Whitewater on March 8, 1992.
  • "The president was preoccupied with polls, phony diplomacy and sex scandals." Um, wasn't it the fault -- indeed, the goal -- of conservatives that Clinton was "preoccupied" with "sex scandals"? After all, there was no Clinton "sex scandal" until conservatives got involved.

Kuhner then went on to claim that President Clinton -- "and by extension, Hillary -- shares much of the blame for the 3,000 Americans who were slaughtered on that fateful day." Maintaining this level of delusion, he also calls Hannity a "true, tenacious journalist."

AIM is not the first in the ConWeb to engage in heavy flirting with the Moonie empire. Back in 2003, ConWebWatch detailed WorldNetDaily's coziness with the News World organization; not only was WND reprinting content from Insight (he called then-Insight editor Paul Rodriguez "one of my best friends in the business"), WND editor Joseph Farah's syndicated column appeared in the national weekly edition of the Washington Times. The content-sharing agreement ended with the demise of the print version of Insight in 2004; Farah backed further away when news spread of a "coronation ceremony" crowning the Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon ad the "king of peace" held in a Senate office building and attended by several members of Congress. A July 2004 column by Farah called Moon a "billionaire pseudo-messiah" Though Farah has never specifically renounced WND's ties to Moon's publications, he at least backed away from Moon; as ConWebWatch noted, others including WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving were quick to instead draw distinctions between Moon and his publications.

A search of AIM's archives found no mention of the Moon "coronation" ceremony -- indeed, mentions of Moon by AIM are scant:

  • A Nov. 15, 2006, column by Kincaid criticized Moon for being "an ardent backer of the U.N." and called him "the billionaire who also underwrites the Washington Times." That's a charitable description; the Times has reported lost well over $1 billion over its existence. One can also assume that Insight was a similarly money-losing proposition as a print publication.
  • A Feb. 27, 2006, column noted presidential brother Neil Bush's links to "controversial Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon."
  • An April 2002 column quoted New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's mention of Moon.
  • A November 2000 column by Kincaid and Reed Irvine noted the "dismal" performance of the Washington Times in covering the "radical" Million Family March, an event the Unification Church helped organize.

Then there's a loooong gap in the archive until the next mention -- an January 1983 AIM Report by Irvine that defends the Washington Times, as NewsMax and Kinsolving did, asserting that "the professional, non-Moon Journalists who run the paper assert that they have iron-clad guaranties of independence of editorial control" and that "the product that comes out five days a week attests to the truth of that claim."

AIM has not been similarly timid about rich liberals in the media. An October 2004 column by Kincaid excoriated liberal activist and philanthropist George Soros "the biggest political fat cat of all time" and detailed his "media connections" -- something Kincaid has shown no such interest in doing with Moon.

Kincaid concluded: "Considering all of the money that Soros or his organizations have provided to news organizations, it should be no surprise to learn that journalists love him." And considering all the money that Moon has pumped into conservative media outlets like the Washington Times and Insight, it's no wonder that the folks at AIM love him and are willing to gloss over his messianic declarations.

After all, if AIM is willing to consider news organizations discredited just because Soros has sent some money their way, shouldn't it do the same for the Washington Times and Insight? After all, unlike Moon, Soros hasn't declared himself a messiah, which is clearly objectionable (if not blasphemous) from a Christian standpoint, something we know Kincaid doesn't like. He has complained that the popularity of "The Da Vinci Code" shows that "Christians and their beliefs are fair game for journalists" and attacked a TV show for "mocking Jesus Christ and featuring demented Christians."

If Moon was supporting liberal causes, Kincaid and AIM would undoubtedly be bashing him to no end and declaring that anything with his fingerprint cannot be trusted. Why won't AIM apply that same standard to Moon's publications now?

Before AIM totally commits itself to shilling for the Moonie brand of journalism, it might want to think things through.

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