Anti-Obama Frenzy: The Case of Aaron Klein
The WorldNetDaily reporter hurls guilt-by-association attacks as he admits his hatred of Obama.
By Terry Krepel
Aaron Klein obviously hates Barack Obama. He even admitted as much in a March 14 column, claiming his supporters have a "malignant messianic infatuation" with him.
Any normal media outlet would bar a reporter with such clear bias, if not outright animosity, toward a subject from reporting on that subject. But WorldNetDaily is no normal media outlet.
Thus, Klein -- WND's Jerusalem reporter, with a long, long record of conservative bias and shaky reporting -- gets free rein to hurl half-baked accusations and guilt-by-association charges at him.
Klein's anti-Obama frenzy started with a Jan. 29 article claiming that Robert Malley, a foreign policy adviser to Obama, "has penned numerous opinion articles ... petitioning for dialogue with Hamas and blasting Israel for numerous policies he says harm the Palestinian cause." Klein quoted one "Israeli security official" -- anonymous, of course -- saying that Malley "expressed sympathy to Hamas and Hezbollah and offered accounts of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that don't jibe with the facts." Klein made no apparent attempt to contact Malley for a response.
Malley also previously penned a well-circulated New York Review of Books piece largely blaming Israel for the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David in 2000 when Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern sections of Jerusalem and instead returned to the Middle East to launch an intifada, or terrorist campaign, against the Jewish state.
Nowhere did Klein actually quote from Malley's piece to support his contention or to contradict anything Malley wrote.
Klein also claimed:
In an op-ed in the Washington Post in January coauthored by Arafat adviser Hussein Agha, Malley using what could be perceived as anti-Israel language urged Israel's negotiating partner, [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, to reunite with Hamas.
Klein did not explain why this "could be perceived as anti-Israel language" -- it's unclear why Klein considers that the statement "An arrangement between Israel and Hamas could advance both sides' interests" to fall under that category-- or who, exactly, perceives its to be so aside from Klein himself. Nowhere did Klein offer any evidence to contradict Malley's claim that Israel has a "strategy of perpetuating Palestinian geographic and political division" or that "An arrangement between Israel and Hamas could advance both sides' interests."
In fact, in the Washington Post op-ed, Malley explains his reasons why a peace agreement must involve Hamas as well as Israel and the Palestinian Authority -- none of which Klein offers any response to, let alone explain why it "could be perceived as anti-Israel language."
The weasel phrase "could be perceived as" is so amorphous to be meaningless, yet smear-worthy -- which seems to be Klein's objective in using it.
Klein repeated these anonymous, half-baked allegations in articles on Feb. 24, Feb. 25, and March 20. But Klein never acknowledges in any of these follow-up references that Malley has responded to criticism by anti-Obama activists like Klein.
From a Feb. 20 article in the Jewish newspaper the Forward:
Robert Malley, a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton on Arab-Israeli affairs, told the Forward that the attacks on him by some supporters of Israel have “crossed the line.”
Regarding the New York Review of Books article that Klein described as "largely blaming Israel for the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David in 2000," the Forward notes:
This article was considered controversial, since mainstream policy analysts in Israel and America had pointed to Arafat as having sole responsibility for the failed talks. Later, however, other scholars and former officials voiced similar views to those of Malley.
In the meantime, WND discredited itself by embracing and promoting the claims of a man who claimed he had sex and did drugs with Obama without bothering to investigate any of the allegations. When the man failed a polygraph test, WND quietly abandoned the story without telling its readers why it embraced the claims in the first place.
Such an embrace, though, indicated the lengths WND will go to attack Obama -- even at the cost of destroying its credibility in the process.
Apparently undeterred by having a story blow up in its face, WND let Klein resume hurling his mudballs. A Feb. 24 article played guilt-by-association by trying to tie Obama to former '60s radical William Ayers, with whom Obama had once served on a nonprofit group's board, and to a pro-Palestinian activist, Rashid Khalidi, to whom that board awarded a grant. Of course, Klein phrased it in much more inflammatory terms:
The board of a nonprofit organization on which Sen. Barack Obama served as a paid director alongside a confessed domestic terrorist granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe" and supports intense immigration reform, including providing drivers licenses and education to illegal aliens.
Despite his overreaching words, Klein offered no evidence to support them or that Obama did anything beyond serving on a board with a person with a controversial past. Klein didn't even offer evidence that Obama, in fact, voted in favor of awarding the "controversial Arab group" a piece of the nonprofit's money.
The next day, Klein churned out another article with the headline:
Obama raised funds for Islamic causes
Even Klein doesn't support that claim; he merely asserts that "Obama has spoken at fundraisers for Palestinians living in what the United Nations terms refugee camps" (of which he names only two alleged examples). And despite the headline's claim, nothing Klein writes supports the suggestion that any Obama said was "code for Israel's destruction."
When Klein was called on his guilt-by-association smears, in a March 13 article by Ari Berman in the liberal journal The Nation, he got all huffy and indignant in a March 14 response.
On his claim about Khalidi, Klein tried the technicality approach: "I never reported Khalidi was an Obama adviser. I also never stated anywhere as fact that Khalidi was employed by the PLO. ... I fairly note Rashid Khalidi has denied working for the PLO." But it's clear that Klein wanted to leave the impression that Khalidi worked for the PLO in his Feb. 24 article: Klein's statement that Khalidi "reportedly has worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization" appeared in the second paragraph, but his statement that "Rashid Khalidi at times has denied working directly for the PLO" doesn't appear until paragraph 20.
Klein also undeniably wanted to leave the impression that Obama has some sort of close relationship with both Khalidi and Ayers, even though Klein proves nothing beyond serving on a board with Ayers that awarded a grant to Khalidi's group. Yet Klein insisted that this somehow ads up to Obama having "relationships with extremely questionable, terrorist-supporting, anti-American elements."
Klein played the victim by claiming Berman "attempt[ed] to smear my factual reporting" -- then unloaded a truckload of smears himself. He called The Nation "a small-circulation extreme leftist magazine popular with philosophy majors and owners of vegan restaurants in Manhattan's East Village" that "has reportedly lost money in all but three or four years of its operation and is said to be sustained in large part by donations." (It can be logically assumed that WND's recent libel lawsuit settlement will not be positively impacting its financial situation.) He called Berman's article a "drunken tirade" and a "lying rant" and Berman himself "hysterical" and an "Obama-hack" who is "a symptom of a malignant messianic infatuation with Obama evidenced by the drive-by media for whom Obama can do no wrong." Sounds like Klein has some issues with Obama, which means we can see more smears from him like his Feb. 24 article.
Klein further claimed, among numerous other unsupported accusations, that Berman "falsely depicts my public relations representative, Maria Sliwa, as a 'Christian publicist,' when she is no such thing." In fact, according to an article in the Christian magazine Charisma:
Sliwa dusted off a Bible a Christian friend had given her as a wedding present and for the first time dug into the Scriptures with an open mind. She discussed spiritual concerns with her friend, who invited her to a Pentecostal church on Long Island, where she surrendered her life to Christ. "I got radically saved," she says.
So Sliwa is a Christian and a publicist, which technically does make her a "Christian publicist."
Left unchallenged by Klein, however, is the part in which Berman links to a ConWebWatch article as support:
Klein made a name for himself by getting terrorists to say nice things about Democrats and allying himself with extremist elements of the Israeli right, whom he frequently quotes as sources in his articles -- when he bothers to quote anyone at all. Klein originally called Hillary Clinton the "jihadist choice for president," but when Clinton stumbled, he turned his fire to Obama, attempting to expose his so-called "terrorist connections."
Klein's silence would seem to indicate that ConWebWatch's work has been vindicated as true.
Still, the smears kept coming. Klein resumed the guilt-by-association attack in a March 20 article, claiming that Obama's church "reprinted a manifesto by Hamas that defended terrorism as legitimate resistance, refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist and compared the terror group's official charter which calls for the murder of Jews to America's Declaration of Independence." In fact, the "manifesto" was an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. Klein claimed the op-ed "garnering the newspaper much criticism." but he offers no examples of this criticism.
(Update: While Klein claims that "Obama's campaign also did not reply to phone and e-mail requests today for comment," Klein does not note a March 20 Jewish Telegraphic Agency article that quoted Obama as saying: "I have already condemned my former pastor's views on Israel in the strongest possible terms, and I certainly wasn't in church when that outrageously wrong Los Angeles Times piece was re-printed in the bulletin." Obama is further quoted as saying, "Hamas is a terrorist organization, responsible for the deaths of many innocents, and dedicated to Israel's destruction, as evidenced by their bombarding of Sderot in recent months. I support requiring Hamas to meet the international community's conditions of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and abiding by past agreements before they are treated as a legitimate actor." Klein doesn't get around to mentioning this until a March 22 article, claiming that the statement was made "following WND's story." Klein offers no evidence to support the claim.)
In a March 23 article, Klein asserted that Obama "has been linked to another controversial pastor." Nowhere does Klein note -- indeed, as ConWebWatch has detailed, nowhere is it noted anywhere on the WorldNetDaily website -- that presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has been endorsed by evangelical preachers like John Hagee and Rod Parsley with a history of inflammatory statements.
(Update: Klein referenced the Hamas "manifesto" in the church bulletin in this article as well -- but not Obama's condemnation.)
Add Klein's hate-based jihad to the history of biased, discredited reporting by both Klein and WND -- plus the fact that WND sells a bumper sticker that reads, "Defeat Obama, Osama and Chelsea's Mama" -- and that's pretty much all one needs to know about whether Klein and WorldNetDaily can be trusted.
Hint: They can't.