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Much Ado About Nothing at the Inquirer August 1, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.

The Philadelphia Inquirer today stepped up efforts to create a scandal out of what is, at worst, a little confusion.  Yesterday’s On the Campaign Trail included the following notes:

Republican blogs and aides to U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) sounded giddy last week as they passed around a commentary from a Web site, www.Al-Jazeerah.info.  [Note: The website is actually http://www.aljazeerah.info/]

“Don’t ask Santorum to ‘apologize,’ folks. Vote Democratic,” stated the commentary, which denounced the senator’s July 20 speech describing the United States as fighting a war on Islamic fascism, not terror.

Santorum referenced it himself Thursday on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor.

But there was one little wrinkle.

The Web site was not related to the Arabic TV network based in the Middle East – spelled al-Jazeera, no h.

The goal of al-Jazeerah, according to its Web site, is to “promote cross-cultural understanding between people all over the world.” It’s based in Dalton, Ga., not Qatar.

“Rick Santorum has reached a new low in gutter politics by trying to ridiculously link Bob Casey to terrorists,” Casey spokesman Larry Smar said.

So let’s see: Santorum supporters note an opinion piece written by an apologist for Islamofascism who attacks Santorum’s campaign and urges people to vote for Democrats.  And this is misleading how?

Oh, wait, it’s featured on a website bearing the same name as a Qatar-based news channel, but which is unaffiliated with said news channel.  A Casey spokesman, apparently assuming that al-Jazeera = Islamofascism = terrorism, expresses outrage that Santorum would suggest terrorists would vote for Democrats.

The Inquirer carries this “story” again today in an editorial under the subheading “Dumb and Dumber“:

A recent attempted smear by Sen. Rick Santorum and his reelection campaign had to have been done by someone who is dumb, or desperate, or both.

Santorum and his aides encouraged the notion that Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr. had been endorsed by the Arab broadcast network al-Jazeera, based in Qatar. The source of this claim was an online op-ed that criticized a Santorum speech on “Islamic fascism” and urged readers to vote Democratic.

Team Santorum, and some bloggers, circulated the op-ed as evidence that a vote for Casey would be a victory for terrorists.

First off, equating al-Jazeera with terrorism is as silly as calling CNN an arm of the Republican Party. Just because you cover an organization and quote its spokesmen doesn’t mean you are identical to it.

Right, except that it was the Casey campaign that equated al-Jazeera with terrorism.  So who’s dumb, or desperate, or both?  Let’s keep reading, maybe the Inquirer can make this look even more scandalous.

But, wait, it gets much better. The op-ed actually came from a Web site called al-Jazeerah – that’s with an “h” – based in Dalton, Ga. The Georgia online operation says its goal is to promote cultural understanding.

In shopping this story around, the Santorum campaign was either careless or malicious. Even more obnoxious was their refusal to apologize for the error.

Again, what’s the error?  The fact of the matter is that a pro-Islamofascist essay referencing a speech by Santorum appeared on a website called aljazeerah.info and encouraged people to vote for Democrats.  If Santorum thought or suggested that this Georgian al-Jazeerah is related to the Qatari al-Jazeera he was obviously mistaken, but that’s beside the point.  And, contrary to what the Inquirer’s editorial board would like to believe, it makes him neither dumb nor desperate.



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