Media Malpractice: 'Columbus Dispatch' Botches Hit on Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel Over 'Radical Islam'
"No good deed goes unpunished."
That's what I said to myself last Friday when I got off the phone with Columbus Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson.
He had called me about a spun-up controversy regarding Ohio Treasurer and current U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel, who is now coming under fire for raising alarm about the growth of "radical Islam" in the state of Ohio -- and in particular, the corrosive influence of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
It's not that Johnson was combative. Quite the opposite. We spoke on background for about 20 minutes, and on the record for about five minutes, and it was all very cordial.
But the article that came out on Monday in the Columbus Dispatch is yet another example of the widespread establishment media practice of burying the lede, intentionally missing critical evidence, and accepting uncritically statements from CAIR. In short, it's shooting the messenger.
Let me say upfront, I'm not affiliated in any way with the Mandel campaign, and have only met him once for less than a half hour at his request to provide information on past terror arrests and plots in Ohio, as I would any elected official of any political party who would ask.
I have to take several issues with Johnson's article, "Josh Mandel ramps up criticism of 'radical Islam,' sanctuary cities."
One issue is the past attacks on Mandel in 2010 when he was first running for state treasurer:
Mandel first showed his reaction to Muslims in his 2010 campaign for treasurer vs. Democratic incumbent Kevin Boyce. Mandel accused Boyce of cronyism with employees in his office, including top assistant Amer Ahmad.
The Republican’s blog accused Ahmad of awarding contracts to “Islamic extremist friends,” adding, “Ohio state jobs openings only announced at a terror-tied mosque? Not quite sure how that is legal.”
After reading Mandel’s blog post, Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Muslim civil-rights and advocacy organization Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that, at the least, it included “some type of religious bias.”
What is never stated in the article is that Mandel was 100 percent correct regarding past Deputy Treasurer Amer Ahmad, who currently sits in federal prison serving a 15 years sentence for bribery, receiving kickbacks, and running a money laundering scheme while serving in the Ohio Treasurer's office.
And, in fact, the issue of job openings announced only at the mosque had previously been reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Mandel had been relying on "real news."
The conclusion to the Ahmad matter was no secret to the Columbus Dispatch as they reported on the Amer Ahmad scandal at the time:
And the paper even issued an editorial when Ahmad went to prison:
It would seem that Mandel's role in exposing this scandal, which he inherited when he became state treasurer, would have been worth noting. So why no mention that Mandel had been vindicated after the past political and media accusations of "Islamophobia"?
It is important to note that when Mandel was raising issues about Amer Ahmad in 2010, it was none other than Columbus Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson chucking accusations at Mandel, with stories bearing clearly partisan headlines, such as: "Religious, racial bias alleged."
Mandel is also taking media fire for criticizing CAIR:
That, in turn, prompted the predictable media backlash:
So the Dispatch article on Monday turned to CAIR for comment:
He has been particularly critical of the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which federal agencies, in court documents, have linked to terrorism as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Jennifer Nimer, executive director of CAIR Ohio, said Mandel’s criticisms “have no legitimacy, no actual facts. He’s just trying to scare people.”
“It’s very unfortunate because it’s part of the president’s current rhetoric. Mandel jumped on the bandwagon.”
Nimer denied Mandel’s accusation that CAIR is a dangerous organization.
“Our organization has served food at the YMCA Family Center every week for 14 years,” she said. “I don’t think they would let us do that if we were dangerous.”
In fairness, at least Johnson acknowledged that federal agencies have linked CAIR to terrorism. Honestly, that's more than you'll get from the vast majority of establishment media reporting with respect to CAIR.
But if the U.S. government had said in court documents that CAIR is tied to terrorism, why is Mandel taking heat for making that exact same observation?
As usual, CAIR is described in the Dispatch article as a "Muslim civil-rights and advocacy organization."
Note that CAIR doesn't just have issues with the federal government, but with at least one other country -- the United Arab Emirates -- which has designated CAIR a terrorist organization:
Is the UAE (a Muslim majority country) being anti-Muslim too?
The continued pattern of media unquestioningly calling CAIR a "civil rights organization" and rushing to CAIR for comment whenever some terror event occurs raises serious issues. Who, apart from the media and CAIR themselves, appointed CAIR to represent the entire Muslim community? And why is it that when someone criticizes CAIR they are immediately charged by the media with attacking the Muslim community at large?
And while I think Johnson fairly and accurately represented our on-the-record conversation, it still raised a troubling issue:
Patrick Poole, a central Ohio-based counterterrorism analyst cited by the Mandel team, said Mandel is correct in being wary of the potential for terrorism.
Since returning to Ohio after being away for 10 years, Poole said, he has been surprised to see a “succession of incidents and arrests” involving terrorism, including the OSU attack and a knife assault at the Nazareth Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant (an attack that authorities have declined to label terrorism).
“Columbus has acute issues in this area that have gone unacknowledged,” Poole said.
“My concern is there’s a bill coming due,” he said. “If we talk about the problem in a reasonable and rational manner, we might be able to make some headway.”
Here I'm tagged in the bolded section as misrepresenting the February 2016 attack at the Nazareth deli as a terrorist attack when authorities have declined to call it so.
You know who else called the Nazareth deli incident a terrorist attack? The Columbus Dispatch, including it this past December in a list of 12 terrorism cases in central Ohio:
This is what they said in December on that very incident:
Agents didn't use the words "terrorism" or "terrorist," but this week, Columbus Police Deputy Chief Michael Woods, who oversees the division's homeland security unit, compared Barry's [Nazareth deli] attack to Monday's attack at Ohio State University as a potential act of terrorism.
So when the Columbus Dispatch and the Columbus Police describe the Nazareth deli incident as terrorism, that's completely acceptable. But when I make the exact same observation, I'm jumping to conclusions not supported by "the authorities."
It's not exactly a state secret that I've had some past issues with the Columbus Dispatch, going back to April 2006, when the Dispatch attacked me for raising the issues of the open terrorist support of my then-neighbor, Dr. Salah Sultan.
The Dispatch reporter, in that case, described my concerns back then as "hostile assertions," and hinted that my criticism was driven by racism and "Islamophobia."
But as I've reported here at PJ Media over the years, my claims about Sultan back then have been entirely vindicated.
In one case, the Press Office of the Government of Israel noted my PJ Media reporting on Sultan:
And today he sits in an Egyptian prison cell:
And with respect to the problem of Islamic terrorism in Ohio, it's something I've been reporting on for more than a decade:
While anyone who raises their voice on the issue of "radical Islam" in our state gets the full media monty, the problem in our state continues to escalate:
As I told Alan Johnson on Friday, continuing to avoid addressing the problem of terrorism in our state and attacking anyone who tries to address the issue will lead to the stigmatization of the Muslim community more than anything I, or someone like Josh Mandel, could ever do.
If anyone is aiding the terrorists' cause in this case, it's the Columbus Dispatch.