A Newsweek Rebuke

My apologies to Kimberly Wright Knowles. I did not attribute the quote at the beginning of this blog due to the protocol that if a quote appears on an open forum and you did not get permission to attribute the quote it must remain anonymous. The quote was from her on Facebook, on open forum.

A Facebook friend recently responded to the shooting of Republican members of Congress by saying “Dear Conservatives,
You don’t get to talk about gun control and who can and cannot have guns just because a “liberal” shot people who are a part of the GOP. In the past 20 years the majority of mass shootings and home-grown terror attacks have been committed by people of your party and that were involved in the alt-right, right wing conspiracy theory, and tea party groups. Liberalism is not a mental illness. Also, many of you supported people in your party that voted against restrictions on the mentally ill having guns. Take a long hard look in the mirror before pointing fingers.
Thanks…”

I responded with a post that said “You are wrong. CNN tried to blame the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords on TEA Party but it was wrong. Here is list of mass shootings you might want to check out http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass” And she gave me the link to this story that started a conversation about liberals and white supremacy. Another friend of hers challenged me to find a liberal white supremacist, which I thought I did but turned out I was wrong. I was informed there are no liberal white supremacists so we had a conversation of other issues that we could agree about.

 

The Newsweek article I was sent seemed a little off to me as I was reading it. It seemed based more on opinion than fact. I decided to do a little investigating on my own into the article, the author, and the sources. I first checked out the author, a man by the name of Kurt Eichenwald who is the senior editor for Newsweek and contributing editor for Vanity Fair and New York Times. By all accounts of his profile he is a trusted and respected journalist and very successful in his field. I revisited the article and followed the source of his main claim that more people were killed by “Right-wing” extremists than Islamic terrorists since September 11, 2001. I am not a journalist but I do know enough about the profession to know that a journalist always reveals their sources especially when using a study or published article. I found the study from a link in the article and read the study for myself. I also looked up information related to the study to find out if there were any reviews affirming or disputing the findings. What I found neither shocked nor surprised me given my skepticism of the main stream media. What I have done is not difficult especially in the age of the internet that anyone could do with a little time and interest. I would implore everyone regardless of political affiliation to do the same thing because I believe the liberal media has been able to report misleading and inaccurate stories for several years but without the ability to check the sources, people could only accept the reports as truth.

 

First, I checked the article and that was the difficult due to its length but I expected that because it was written for a magazine and not a newspaper. Much of the article was, as you would expect, was what you would call fluff. That is not unusual for a magazine article since they require more words than other media. Much of the language used in the article seethed with condescending words like “daffy” and “blither, blathery”. It was obvious at that point in the article that the author was not objective. Also, in the article was no interview with one of the opposition of the issue that indicated that the author did not reach out to the community on which he was writing a news story. If the “fairness doctrine” were in effect for print media this article would have never seen the light of day. For a long time the “fairness doctrine” was used on television and radio broadcasts that if you had a controversial subject you had to allow equal time to the opposing side of the issue. The author, Kurt Eichenwald, was the next object of my investigation. I wanted to know who this man was and if there were any articles he wrote that were considered questionable. A quick internet search gave me several sites including Mr. Eichenwald’s personal website as well as news from different sources on some of the things he has said and tweeted. From these I concluded that Mr. Eichenwald is an unabashed liberal through his own words. He stands for gun control, supports a “socialized” single-payer style healthcare system, and has tweeted that he hoped the GOP families would lose their insurance and die. This kind of vitriol is sure to seep into his “journalism” since he is certainly not as objective as he claims and the article on Right-Wing Extremism is certainly full of his opinion. But what about his sources? They are surely above reproach, aren’t they? After all, he used a study from New America and the Triangle Center on Terrorism and those sites are supposed to be objective. Not so fast, I say.

 

Through the link in the article, I went directly to the study sited and found a four-page document that focused mostly on Islamic terrorism and the radical ideas they espouse. According to page two of the study, there is s graph that shows religious affiliation at the time the person was charged with a terrorist act. The total number of Muslims both converted and non-converted (born Muslim) was 389 while non-Muslim and unknown were 17. That is not what Mr. Eichenwald wrote in the article. Page three in the New America article asks the question as to why they engage in terrorism. Militant Islamic ideology and dislike for US foreign policy were stated reasons for terrorism. The words “right-wing” or “Conservative” were not mentioned at any point in this section, it was all about Islamic Terrorism. The only place to compare Islamic to right-wing terror was on page four with a graph that showed the comparison. Mr. Eichenwald wrote, “In that time, according to New America, a Washington think tank, Islamists launched nine attacks that murdered 45, while the right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead.” However, the graph shows that there were 95 deaths from Islamic attacks and only 53 from right wing with 8 from black separatists. That is very different from the 45/ 48 Mr. Eichenwald quoted while saying right-wing extremist posed a greater threat to the US with a gap of three. Here is a screenshot of the graph that was on the webpage.

If you will notice, there is a giant spike in Islamic attacks right at the beginning of 2016. I noticed something else was missing at the start of the graph. There is nothing in 2001 and the first incident shown is the Los Angeles Airport Shooting on July 4, 2002. I decided to check the accuracy of the report from New America and found that Professor Andrew Holt of Florida State College in Jacksonville found that the report omitted the DC sniper shootings that occurred in October 2002. He noted other deaths that were not in the graph as well.

 

Mr. Eichenwald also cited a study from the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security where he implied that all of 382 law enforcement agencies considered anti-government groups more dangerous than Islam groups. The report stated instead “Of these 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction”. This only takes into account “anti-government” groups, which include more than just “right-wing” extremists. Mr. Eichenwald did not stop at extremists; he went after mainstream Conservatives who were concerned during the military exercise known as Jade Helm. Because of the size of the operation and the fact that it was taking place in several states; many residents were legitimately worried about the purpose of such an operation. Although conspiracy theories were widespread by people like Alex Jones, there were many residents in the area that had real concerns and asked their state and federal representatives to investigate the issue. That was when Greg Abbott ordered the National Guard to monitor the operation to be sure no violations occurred because the operation was so secret that it took threat of lawsuits to get information on it. During that same time, Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert questioned the Pentagon over the issue. The problem was not that “right-wing” extremists had taken hold but a distrust of the government based on the secretiveness of the Obama Administration and the fact that some reports were showing that the FBI and Homeland Security were targeting Conservatives with no ties to extremism had made people nervous. Much like the Southern Poverty Law Center has always put groups on their hate list who have traditional Christian values and support Christian principles even if those groups have never harmed anyone.

 

Mr. Eichenwald is either trying to deceive the people into believing that all Conservatives are “right-wing extremists” or he is trying to stir up the already violent left-wing extremists on college campuses and in large cities. During the 2016 campaign, we saw increased violence toward Republicans that included many listed here yet there has not been an outcry from Democrats denouncing these attacks. It just seems that anyone who speaks out against the left is automatically an “extremist” I know this because I have experienced this personally. The problem with the liberal mindset can be summed up with Mr. Eichenwald’s own words from the article. “The Constitution is not some philosophical tract composed with soaring words about freedom; it is the blueprint dictating how the American government is supposed to function, while the amendments are the enumeration of citizens’ rights”. The Constitution is a document that enumerates the powers of the federal government and limits that power. The phrase he uses here about the amendments assumes that the government gives rights but the founders believed that rights come from God and the government is there to protect those rights. The founders would be spinning in their graves if they knew how much the government is involved in our daily lives. While right-wing extremism is bad, it is not the norm or part of the mainstream Conservative movement and abhorred by most Conservatives.

 

With the accusations of lies coming from the left, you would think they would do a better job reporting news. Although Mr. Eichenwald had some accuracy in the article, the main claim was destroyed when the sources were examined. Not only were the numbers misrepresented but also the sources were either misquoted or parts were omitted. Then there were the sources themselves that when scrutinized were found to omit data that should have been included. This kind of article questions not only Mr. Eichenwald’s credibility but that of Newsweek and the mainstream media as well. I urge everyone on the left and right to examine sources and follow up with any seemingly outlandish claims on either side.

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