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Targeting the Fox News Journalists
by Cliff Kincaid [commentator] 8/28/06 

[see today's update on Fox journalists' release below]

I come across a lot of junk on the Internet but was truly shocked when I saw a column by a popular left-wing writer and former local Democratic Party official named Mike Whitney that served to justify the kidnapping of Fox News journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig by a Palestinian terrorist group possibly connected to al Qaeda. Whitney claimed that the Fox employees are "an integral part of the American war machine" and should not be considered non-combatants. 

The terrorists holding Centanni and Wiig want Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails released in exchange for their freedom. They have produced a video which aired on Al-Jazeera, the terrorists' favorite propaganda channel, showing the captive journalists claiming they have been treated well and asking for help in getting freed. The U.S. was given 72 hours to make a decision and time is running out. The lives of Centanni and Wiig are hanging in the balance.

Cliff Kincaid

Cliff Kincaid, serves as editor of the Accuracy in Media (AIM) Report. A veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff has appeared on the Fox News programs Hannity & Colmes and The O'Reilly Factor, where he debated O'Reilly on global warming, the death penalty, and the homosexual agenda. He was a guest co-host on CNN's Crossfire (filling in for Pat Buchanan) in the 1980s, where he confronted the then-Libyan Ambassador to the U.N. with evidence of Libyan involvement in international terrorism. Through his America's Survival, Inc., organization (www.usasurvival.org), he has been an advocate on behalf of the families of victims of terrorism and has published reports and held conferences critical of the United Nations. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events, Insight, and other publications. He served on the staff of Human Events for several years and was an editorial writer and newsletter editor for former National Security Council staffer Oliver North at his Freedom Alliance educational foundation. He has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues. Cliff is married and has three sons.[go to Kincaid index]

Whitney, a former official of the Snohomish County Democrats in Washington State, declared that "The group which captured the two Fox employees did what they felt they had to do to address the egregious human rights abuses at American gulags at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. When peaceful means for acquiring justice are foreclosed, violence becomes inevitable. This truism is even enshrined in our own Declaration of Independence."

In a brief phone interview, before the line suddenly went dead, Whitney said he did not intend to justify the kidnapping of the Fox News Journalists but that "I certainly understand it." When I told him that his column had put the lives of the journalists in danger, he shot back, "I think that [responsibility] belongs to George Bush, not me." He said he doesn't want to see the journalists murdered. 

However, Whitney's column, being circulated around the world on the Internet, has undoubtedly contributed to putting the lives of Centanni and Wiig in jeopardy. That has to be one reason why Steve Centanni's brother Ken has just issued a new statement pleading for their release.   

In a follow-up email, trying to mitigate the damage his column may have caused, Whitney expressed concern that his piece would become "cannon-fodder" for a "smear campaign" against him and that he does not regard Centanni and Wiig as "legitimate" targets but we can "logically" expect that extremist groups "will continue to act similarly in the future." 

His solution is that "Bush could save their lives by simply offering a prisoner swap for captives in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib."

While Whitney tried to back away from the implications of his column in our phone interview, he has not equivocated about the war in Iraq, declaring in one column, "?I can say without hesitation that I support the 'insurgency,' and would do so even if my only 21 year old son was serving in Iraq. There's simply no other morally acceptable option."

The column was headlined, "Why America Needs to be Defeated in Iraq."

He added, "We should be clear about our feelings about the war and the occupation. The disparate Iraqi resistance is the legitimate manifestation of a national liberation movement. Its success is imperative to the principles of national sovereignty and self-determination; ideals that are revered in the Declaration of Independence."

Whitney told me this article was "a blueprint for getting out" of Iraq. In fact, it's a plea for a terrorist victory. 

Whitney is not an isolated crank. His columns have appeared on websites that go by the names of Information clearinghouse, Smirking Chimp, Counterpunch, dailymuslims.com, the online journal, axis of logic, Palestine Chronicle, and buzzflash.

His attack on Fox News represents the pathological hatred that exists on the left for the channel because it dares to give conservatives some airtime. By appealing to conservatives, who have not had a national television voice, the channel has become a tremendous success. In terms of international coverage, however, Fox News is not that significantly different from other news organizations. Whitney seems to forget that Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera was expelled from Iraq for allegedly divulging details of a future U.S. military operation. 

At AIM, we have more recently been critical of Fox News correspondent Jonathan Hunt's coverage of the war in Lebanon for taking an anti-Israeli slant. We previously were critical of a Saudi prince, who is a significant financial investor in News Corporation, the parent of Fox News, for claiming to have influenced the channel's coverage of the Muslim riots in France.  

For Whitney, however, Fox News has to be demonized. Not surprisingly, another one of his targets is President Bush. According to one biography of Whitney posted on the Internet, his interest in politics began with the "appointment" of Bush as president and he believes that "the Cabal that presently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave." poses "a threat that is as real and as far reaching as any we have seen since the rise of Fascism in 1930s Germany."

Such remarks would be laughable were it not for the fact that they seem to reflect a significant percentage of the grass roots of the Democratic Party and his views get such wide circulation in this new media age. The newsworthy aspect of this controversy, of course, is that dissent has crossed the line into apparent support for those who kill Americans. That cannot be excused or condoned. 

For their part, the Snohomish County Democrats are in good standing with key figures in the party in Washington State. A notice on the group's website says that Senator Maria Cantwell and Rep. Jay Inslee were "patrons" for its summer picnic.

Its official political platform does not openly declare support for the terrorists in Iraq but it does advocate a U.S. foreign policy of "nonviolence and sustainability" that would leave us defenseless against the enemy.

It also declares support for:

  • The growing of marijuana for personal "medical" use,

  • Abolition of the death penalty,

  • Civil rights for ex-convicts,

  • International treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Criminal Court,

  • Working with the world community through the United Nations and its agencies, including the World Court.

  • Bearing a fair share of the United Nations' development, peacekeeping, and defense initiatives.

For his part, Whitney says he dropped out of the Snohomish County Democrats a few years ago. Asked why, he said, "I don't know." Perhaps they were too moderate. CRO


AIM Hails Release of Fox News Journalists
WASHINGTON, DC -- Accuracy in Media (AIM) today [8/28/06] hailed the release of Fox News journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig and said the case demonstrates the danger of left-wing websites targeting the channel for an alleged "pro-American" slant in Middle East reporting.

"The Fox News Channel has been the subject of pathological hatred among members of the left-wing political community in the U.S. who distribute their anti-American diatribes around the globe," said AIM editor Cliff Kincaid. "That vitriol played no small role in the kidnapping of Centanni and Wiig and was a threat to their very lives. Thank God they have now been freed from the clutches of their radical Islamic captors."

Centanni and Wiig, who were abducted by terrorists pointing guns at their heads, were held for 13 days. They were forced to record a videotape asking for their freedom that was aired by Al-Jazeera, the terrorist propaganda channel, and their captors had demanded the release of Muslim prisoners in the U.S. in exchange for the journalists' freedom. Centanni and Wiig were forced at gunpoint to record another videotape saying they had converted to Islam.

In a column written before the journalists were released, Kincaid strongly criticized popular left-wing writer Mike Whitney for an article that served to justify the kidnapping. The Whitney column, "Are Fox News Employees Really 'Noncombatants?,'" was circulated around the world on the Internet and claimed that the Fox News journalists were part of the American "war machine." Whitney said it was not his intention to put their lives in jeopardy. However, after Kincaid questioned Whitney about the column and then denounced it, the Whitney piece was withdrawn from the Information Clearing House website "at the request of the author." It is still available on several other websites, including one that presents itself as a source of news from "occupied Iraq."

" Articles of this nature are read by enemies of the U.S. and inspire them to commit anti-American terrorist actions," said Kincaid. "What made the Whitney column even more objectionable is that it appeared at a time when Centannni and Wiig were actually in the hands of the terrorists and their lives were literally hanging in the balance."

Whitney, a former official of the Snohomish (Washington) County Democratic Party, had previously written a column calling for a terrorist victory in Iraq. After being questioned about this by AIM's Kincaid, Whitney sent an email saying, "I do not want to see my country defeated in Iraq, I spoke in haste and rage. I do want to see a complete and immediate withdrawal. The article you mention caused great difficulty for people I love and respect, (as well as people in the antiwar movement) It was irresponsible and stupid."

However, this column, "Why America Needs to Be Defeated in Iraq," is still available on the Internet and has not been withdrawn at the request of the author.

copyright 2006 Accuracy in Media www.aim.org




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