Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Klein’

I’m at the point that when I see Aaron Klein’s name in the byline of a WND story, I assume it’s fake. It may not be a completely accurate heuristic, but it’s developed over the lifetime of this blog. Let’s start this time with the debunking itself, and then get into Klein’s claims: “Right-Wing Smear Baselessly Links Obama Admin to Anti-Netanyahu Campaign” by Hannah Groch-Begley on Media Matters.

Hannah comes out swinging, debunking the claim – or at least mollifying it – in the first paragraph, by pointing out “American political consultants from both parties have been independently working in Israeli campaigns for decades — including former Obama aides who have worked for Netanyahu.” I actually recommend reading Hannah’s article in full because it points out the path of the “Chinese Whispers” that have been blown out of any proportion or context due to a desire to undermine President Obama for any reason – real or not. (And to be fair, I don’t think everything President Obama does is good or fair or reasonable, I’d just rather dislike his actions if they’re real, rather than dislike his actions that are shown to be fake.)

Here’s the basic idea, or claimed evidence: “[… A] former Obama campaign staffer went to Israel “to oust Netanyahu,” suggesting the former staffer would not do this work “if he thought Obama opposed it” and implying the administration was “actively working to defeat Netanyahu.””

Here’s the reality: “Two policy groups in Israel, OneVoice and Victory 15, are currently working together to promote platforms that reportedly “are not friendly” to Netanyahu ahead of the upcoming election. The groups have also partnered with American consulting group 270 Strategies, which is headed by Jeremy Bird, a former Obama campaign staffer. OneVoice began working with 270 Strategies in 2013, long before the Israeli elections were announced.”

But, as she stated at the beginning: “There is a long history of U.S. political consultants from both parties working for Israeli political campaigns.” She then lists ones from US presidential campaigns that have worked both for and against various parties in Israel. But, apparently, this one is somehow different. The rumor that it’s different is possibly in response to House Speaker John Boehner inviting Netanyahu to address Congress — a major faux pas in Washington because foreign dignitaries are supposed to be handled by the State Department, part of the Executive Branch. This was seen as a major snub to Obama both by the House for offering it and Netanyahu for accepting. And so, “Conservatives claim that 270 Strategies’ work with OneVoice proves Obama is either retaliating against Netanyahu or engaging in a similar effort to meddle in foreign politics; but again, 270’s work on the ground in Israel began long before this most recent disagreement, and it is typical for American political consultants to engage in Israeli politics.”

This was then hyped by the Drudge Report, by Sen. Ted Cruz on Brietbart, and even Megan Kelly on Fox “news” who suggested “that the administration sent an Obama “field general” to help Israel “elect Netanyahu’s opponent.””

This took another twist because of money: “Many of the media outlets took the smear further, by also claiming that tax-payer dollars were funding the campaign. OneVoice briefly received a one-time grant for about $200,000 from the State Department, which ended in November 2014. As State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki noted in a briefing, the grant “ended before there was a declaration of an Israeli election.””

So, because some organization got a grant at one time, that means everything they do in the future is linked to that funding source? Uh huh …

That’s the extent of that. So, now we have WND:

*Reposted under the headline, “FOR TRAINING ONLY – Netanyahu fires back at U.S. election meddling” on February 6, but the link on February 6 returns a 404 Error (file not found).

Really, you can read down those headlines and check off each conspiracy that I explained above. But, with very sensationalistic headlines. For example, with the “Cruz Grills Kerry” one, it’s not a grilling. It’s a letter that Sen. Cruz sent to Sec. of State Kerry asking to make sure that no US taxpayer funds are being used. That’s it. Oh, except that in the WND story, there are many quotes from anonymous internet commenters who are opposed to what they are being mislead to think is going on.

The only one not in there is the one about Netanyahu “firing back” at an “Obama Army.” To quote from WND: “During a press conference Sunday, the Likud Party officially accused V15 and other related nonprofits of being supported “through millions of dollars funneled from Europe, the U.S. and the New Israel Fund and international factors interested in bringing down Prime Minister Netanyahu” who think “that all means are appropriate.” The Likud further called for Israel’s Central Elections Committee to outlaw V15′s activities to “ensure the integrity of the election.””

It may be a tu quoque fallacy on my part, but I would like to point out that there is plenty of foreign money in US politics, too. Something that is generally advocated for by conservative groups by trying to remove caps on spending and general accountability, and/or lessening funding for groups meant to watch for potential campaign spending violations.

In the end, what makes more sense? Scenario 1 is a vast, nefarious plot of one world leader plotting against the leader of an ally state. Which takes pace in a scenario where the former world leader’s every move is being watched by an incredibly hostile group of lawmakers. Or, Scenario 2 which is where a political campaign team that has a proven track record is either hired by or volunteers to help the campaign of someone else. Just happens to be that the new campaign is in a different country.

One of the reasons that I consider myself part of the modern scientific skepticism movement is because of crap like this. You need to question things. You need to look into sources and look for the story behind what you’re being told. You need to look at the evidence and get beyond the hype. Otherwise, you’re just a drone. And WND commenters are mainly drones. They just get riled up because they’re supposed to by stories like this. As “Envoy Master” wrote, “A sitting US president actively trying to cause a regime change in an ALLIED country is arguably treasonous as such an act is likely to benefit our enemies.” Yup, WND has done its job.


I was waiting for this one since I read it on the Raw Story site earlier today: “Oregon Officials Rip Fox Contributor Todd Starnes for ‘False’ Reporting on Anti-Gay Bakery.”

The story on WND is found in Michael Brown’s “It’s High Time to Push Back Against Gay Activism.” Oh, and it specifically contradicts the actual potential fine reported yesterday by WND in “Bakery to Pay Same-Sex Couple Up to $150,000.”

The real story is this:

A state agency in Oregon called out the Fox News contributor’s erroneous reporting on a discrimination complaint filed by a same-sex couple who were denied service by a bakery.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found Monday that Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated the state’s anti-discrimination law because it is not a registered religious institution.

The Portland bakery’s owners might be ordered to pay fines up to $75,000 to the women – but Starnes got some facts exactly wrong in his Fox News report, “Christian bakers face government wrath for refusing to make cake for gay wedding.”

Starnes incorrectly reported that bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein could face $200,000 in fines and damages – which an official with the BOLI flatly denied in a statement to Media Matters.

“Todd Starnes is writing that the bakery owners face fines of up to $200,000 in damages. That’s false,” said Charlie Burr, the agency’s communications director. “In fact, it’s the Kleins who have asked for $200,000 in damages from our agency for our enforcement of the Equality Act.”

An administrative judge rejected the couple’s request to dismiss the case and award them damages, court costs, and attorneys fees.

In other words, Starnes reported that the bakers were getting fined $200k, when in fact that was what THEY were trying to sue for. They may be fined up to $75k for each person they discriminated against, for their discrimination was ruled to be illegal because they violated the non-discrimination rules in their city/state.

Michael Brown, however, missed the memo:

On Tuesday, it was announced that “An Oregon administrative law judge ruled on Jan. 29 that the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa did, in fact, discriminate in 2013 when they declined to provide a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because it would have violated their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage.”

The bakers could potentially be fined $200,000 for holding to their Christian convictions. $200,000!

I don’t think anything more needs to be said about this.

But, comments, well … it’s a bit early to judge what may happen, but as I write this, there are 7 comments. The top-rated is by “MichaelVWilson” and he wrote this diatribe:

Push back. How nice. What a bland, unimaginative, inoffensive phrase.

As an ex-Marine I’m a little more direct in my approach. 50 men, 25 with rifles to act as guards; 25 with sledge hammers as the wrecking crew. Go to a homosexual bar or bathhouse, destroy it with the sledge hammers, find a second homosexual business, rinse and repeat until none are left.

Christians are in a war against evil. Let’s act like it!

Can someone please, please tell me how this is any different from what many über-conservative, right-wing Christians in American argue against in terms of Islamic jihad? This man is literally calling for Armed Christian Soldiers to destroy property owned by people they disagree with for religious reasons, or operated along an ideology they disagree with for religious reasons. The only difference I see in this particular comment is that he does not seem to be advocating violence to people, only their property. Though the rifles and sledgehammers make me wonder what would happen if someone tried to block them.

The only kind voice currently has zero up-votes, by “RichardMcCarthy”: “Yes, indeed! Jesus did say “Push back!” Or, maybe, He forgot to say that? I’m pretty sure He did say “Love one another” – including your enemies and fellow sinners as He loved us (not so that they know they’re going to Hell).”

I don’t get it. This guy is a senior staff reporter for WND but he would likely fail even the most basic of journalism classes. Why? Every story I seem to post about him here is him publishing rumors or outright falsehoods. Take the latest case: I woke up this morning and skimmed through my RSS feeds for skeptic-related websites and found this from The Raw Story’s Tom Boggioni: “Oops: Conservatives Eager to Rip Obama’s AG Nominee Attack Wrong ‘Loretta Lynch.'”

It possibly started on Brietbart on Saturday, where “writer Warner Todd Huston wrote, “New York federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch, the new nominee for attorney general, has a career filled with high profile cases — and she was a member of Bill Clinton’s defense team during the 1992 Whitewater corruption probe.””

Aaron Klein on WND gobbled it up. Here is the story by Aaron Klein, in full:

Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s pick to become the next attorney general, once worked for Bill Clinton’s campaign, where it turns out she co-authored a memo aimed at discrediting alleged Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers and stopping any news coverage of her claims.

Flowers is the model and actress who claimed publicly to have had a 12-year-long affair with Clinton.

Hers was only one of several embarrassing stories of extramarital affairs former Clinton staffer Betsey Wright labeled “bimbo eruptions” needing to be quelled in the press.

During testimony in January 1998, Clinton admitted to having a sexual relationship with Flowers.

Yet Lynch’s memo sought ways to portray Flowers “completely as a fraud, liar and possible criminal.”

Lynch worked for Clinton’s presidential campaign and also served as on the defense attorney team that represented Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1992 during the Whitewater investigations.

Archived documents show that Lynch, together with campaign operative Nancy McFadden, co-authored a confidential Feb. 16, 1992, campaign memo entitled “Possible Investigation Needs.”

Under a section entitled, “Defensive Research: Tying up ends and seeing ahead,” the memo’s first item addresses the need to discredit one “GF,” which from the context was a clear reference to Gennifer Flowers.

Reads the Lynch-McFadden memo: “Exposing GF: completely as a fraud, liar and possible criminal to stop this story and related stories, prevent future non-related stories and expose press inaction and manipulation.”

Last February, nine months before Lynch’s name was announced by Obama as his Attorney General pick, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders referenced the Lynch-McFadden memo as part of what the writer labeled “The Clintons’ war on women.”

Saunders reminded her audience that “it turns out Flowers wasn’t the ‘liar’ in this little tale,” since Clinton “admitted under oath to having had sex with Flowers.”

“The McFadden-Lynch memo serves as a reminder of what the Clinton machine does to women who speak out. They become loose ends who need to be tied up,” wrote Saunders.

With research by Brenda J. Elliott.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a link to it. Why? Because it’s now gone from WND. No retraction, no nothin’, just disappeared. Here was the link. At the moment, if you do an internet search for the story, in quotes (“Obama AG pick was Clinton ‘bimbo eruption’ fixer”), then you will get the WND article and many other blogs that copy-and-paste it. Google appears to have changed the way it caches pages so I can’t figure out how to link to the Google cache of this story on WND, assuming it exists.

To be fair, I will give WND some credit for pulling the story. But, they jumped on the bandwagon, their senior staff reporter posted it with allegedly additional research by Brenda Elliott, and they managed to concoct more fakery around a fake story because of partisanship blinding them to checking even the most basic of facts: That they were talking about the correct person.

Back in July, there was a “little” thing of another Israeli war. I had a tiny personal stake in the issue because my brother was just finishing up a trip to Israel when the rockets started to fire.

Just a few days before, Malaysia Airlines flight 17 (MH 17) had been shot down over eastern Ukraine, likely by rebels using Russian surface-to-air missiles.

What’s the relevance? Well, Israel is a small, narrow country. Much smaller than the war zone in eastern Ukraine. And, for a few days near the start of the fighting, the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shut down all US flights to Israel.

Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, you’re kinda damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If there had been no cancellation of flights, and something had happened (since both sides have missiles that can hit commercial airlines), Republicans would have complained that Obama doesn’t care about security and this is just like what happened over Ukraine, why oh why didn’t you learn from it?!

But, since the FAA did shut down flights, now it’s a conspiracy theory. WND had several articles about this, spear-headed by fake-news-in-chief, and senior WND news editor, Aaron Klein (and if you think that moniker is undeserved, see pretty much any post on this site about Aaron Klein. Specifically for this topic:

The first article starts out in typical Klein fashion, not citing any actual source, just rumors: “Officials in Jerusalem are quietly wondering whether the Federal Aviation Administration’s prohibition on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv is partially a tactic to pressure Israel into a cease-fire. … Behind the scenes, several Jerusalem diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity questioned whether the FAA flight-ban was in part a tactic to press Israel into a truce with Hamas. A cease-fire would tentatively stop Hamas’ rocketing of the Jewish state. … Earlier Tuesday, after the decision by Delta and United to cancel flights and before the FAA ban was announced, the White House issued a statement saying the airlines were not acting on orders from the U.S. government.”

There were 513 comments that are about what you’d expect with WND. But that is a lot of comments. All of the highly voted ones are defending Israel and/or attacking President Obama.

On the second story, with only 16 comments, the sane people had a chance to come out. Top-rated comment is by “PBO_Go” who wrote, “Sorry, Ted, stopping flights for a day was an appropriate action and one of the few this admin has done in the last six years.”

The third story only got 2 comments.

“Did NSA Blackmail Roberts to OK Obamacare?” is the post under the heading, “WND EXCLUSIVE” from May 18. It was suggested by Larry Klayman, who was on Aaron Klein’s radio show (Aaron Klein being WND’s head editor). For those who don’t remember, Klayman is the guy who thought he could rally millions of people to Washington to overthrow the government. They had a few dozen.

And even though he has absolutely no evidence, no whisperings, not anything to suggest this is the case, he just decided to “put it out there” (my term) that maybe President Obama blackmailed Chief Justice Roberts to vote for the Affordable Care Act. The WND story garnered 1414 comments.

And I’ll give this as much more attention as it deserves.

Whoops … didn’t write enough and got busy again. Sigh. Sorry folks.

Okay, up this time is a very soft-news story, one that most of you probably already knew: Conservative Christians really did not like the Darren Aronofsky rendition of the Biblical story of Noah. Really didn’t like it. Besides Answers in Genesis complaining about it, or Creation Ministries International, World Net Daily’s folks (such as Aaron Klein, their senior staff reporter and Jerusalem bureau chief) chimed in with, “‘Noah’ Movie Depicts Evolution, Black Magic” (because Christians believe in black vs. white magic), and they published an article full of Ray Comfort quotes under, “‘Blatant Mischaracterization of a Man of God.'” Because remember, these stories are all for realz. And you wouldn’t want a movie about your great-great-great-great-…-great-grandpa to be wrong.

The problem with the movie, of course, is that it’s not historically Biblically accurate. Methuselah is a sorcerer, Noah sees destruction in his dreams instead of from the voices in his head, and magical seeds that erupt into water that becomes a forest.

Ray Comfort, of bananas-are-designed-and-totally-not-like-a-penis fame, said among other things: “There’s something more sinister about the production of this movie. It’s more than just a grown man with a childish imagination playing with an expensive toy. It is the blatant mischaracterization of a man of God in an attempt to undermine the authority of the Word of God. If Hollywood’s ‘Noah’ is a financial success, I suspect that a sequel will be a blasphemous mischaracterization of Jesus and His work on the cross.”

Yup. Because, far be it for Hollywood to latch onto a genre that sells.

The first story definitely generated a lot of discussion, with 1035 comments; the piece about Comfort had a more modest 134 comments. Quick were the calls for boycotts. Because righteous Christian boycotts are, well, righteous, but boycotts against Christians are evil. “truthseeker53” had the insight, “The entertainment industry serves lucifer [sic].”

“TKevinTkevin”‘s comment also got a lot of support and others echoed it: “don’t support this version of events…read the Bible yourself and spread real Truth”

And, of course, a “Guest” bemoaning the accomodationalists who think that any publicity (for God or the Bible) is good publicity: “What I find the most disappointing are those who claim to be Christians defending this movie as a witnessing tool.”

Then, of course, WND had to bring in a “real” expert in fairy tales – Larry Stone: “‘Noah’ Expert Tells Real Story of Biblical Flood.”

It seems that the majority of stories here that I tag as “fake news” were written by Aaron Klein, the “senior staff reporter and Jerusalem bureau chief.” He seems to be perhaps second only to Jerome Corsi in making things up. The story du jour is, “U.S. Plan Gives Jerusalem Holy Sites to Vatican.” I expect it will have the same amount of “this will come true” as some of his other stories I’ve written about (such as Obama giving up the Temple Mount, the US conspiring with Europe against Israel, or more on the Benghazi “scandal”).

Klein’s thesis this time can perhaps be summed up in his first two paragraphs:

Secretary of State John Kerry quietly presented a U.S. plan for eastern Jerusalem that calls for an international administrative mandate to control holy sites in the area, according to informed Palestinian and Israeli diplomatic sources.

The exact composition of the international mandate is up for discussion, the sources said, but Kerry’s plan recommended a coalition that includes the Vatican, together with a group of Muslim countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Uh huh. The same informant as the one who told Klein that Obama was giving the Temple Mount to the Palestinians?

But, this kind of stuff gets the WND crowd going. The story, published on December 15, 2013, got 310 ratings (4.36/5 stars) and a whopping 1158 comments. Probably why this kind of story gets so much engagement from the normal WND crowd is this sentiment, expressed by the top-rated comment by “Joseph Miller” (91 up, 0 down votes):

To Israel:
Remember most Americans DO NOT support Obama or Kerry. Their plan is a fraud. They probably have back room deals made with Muslims to take Jerusalem. In no way trust these two or turn your back on them for any reason! Reject their plan. Most Americans stand with Isreal on their God given land. God gave it to you! Keep it. Don’t work with Obama and Kerry.

Well, I think I have said about all there is worth saying on this topic. Next up is …