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John Andrews' Attack on Rima Sinclair

Rima Sinclair.
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Presumably, websites operated under the auspices of daily newspapers subscribe to the same ideals as the printed product. Yet it's hard to imagine that "Jews Slant Media, Candidate Claims," a piece by ex-Colorado Senate president John Andrews published August 10 on the Denver Post's Politics West site would have been allowed to appear in the physical paper as is. The piece is journalistically and ethically dubious on a number of fronts, with arguably the most egregious offense being Andrews' decision to run a wholesale assault on Rima Sinclair, a Republican candidate for State House District 6 who's on the ballot for today's primary, without bothering to contact her for a response. But that's nothing new according to Sinclair.

"Since I became the Republican nominee for House District 6, I have been attacked, slandered, accused of all kinds of crimes and innuendos," she says. "Even my loyalty to my country here has been put in doubt and questioned. And in all that time, I've almost never been asked for my input, or if a report was accurate."

Andrews' blog refers to Sinclair, who's of Palestinian descent, as "Rima Barakat Sinclair," mirroring a tactic used by enemies of Barack Obama, who attempt to raise questions about him through the repeated use of his middle name, Hussein. Here's the piece's introductory section:

Rima Barakat Sinclair of Denver, born in Jordan, now a US citizen and a Republican candidate for State House District 6, has told a Jordanian newspaper that "wealthy Jewish supporters of Zionism like Robert Maxwell and Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch" are responsible for "the reality of a Western media hostile to Arab and Islamic issues."

How exceedingly odd. You'd think Sinclair would be too busy contacting voters here in town to opine on global Zionist influence for the home folks in Amman. What does this inflammatory allegation have to do with her aspiration to be a state legislator in Colorado? What is her evidence for it? And where does it fit in with her claim to be a Republican, a free enterpriser, and a voice of tolerance?

Sinclair's interview with the Jordanian paper, Al Arab Al-Yawm, appears in Arabic here. An English translation, made locally in Denver, is posted here.

The latter link is to the blog of Joshua Sharf, who's running against Sinclair in the GOP primary next Tuesday, Aug. 12. Below is the Sinclair translation in context, from Sharf's website. The boldface emphasis is mine.

From there, Andrews reproduces the interview, with particular emphasis on the following statements:

There are several factors affecting the ability of Arabs to launch publicity campaigns to explain the issue and win the American people to their side. One of them was the lack of interest by Arab tycoons or companies in producing films or television program available for worldwide sale. This is the reverse of the actions taken by a number ofwealthy Jewish supporters of Zionism like Robert Maxwell and Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch. So media campaigns advocating for Arabs or Muslims in America are limited to the efforts of individuals or small enterprises that suffer most from financial difficulties and limited distribution.

The reality of a Western media hostile to Arab and Islamic issues will not change as long as Arabs are only waiting for the West to see the "right," one day, without developing an integrated effort to deliver their message. A dialogue of religions is needed, and part of the Divine message is that the powerful should have compassion for the weak.

Problems? Several. Andrews should have acknowledged that he's a public supporter of Sharf, a regular guest on Backbone Radio, his KNUS radio program. In addition, Sharf needed to be identified as a previous contributor to Politics West, for which he'd penned at least one screed targeting (surprise, surprise) Rima Sinclair: The essay in question, dated March 14, dubs her a "terror apologist." Moreover, Andrews relies entirely on information provided by Sinclair's opponent without bothering to contact the candidate herself.

Too bad, since Sinclair's defense of the comments above is interesting, to say the least. Rather than denying that she made these remarks, or criticizing the translation, she instead insists that the negative spin Andrews applies isn't warranted -- and then digs herself into a hole in an attempt to explain.

"I was answering a question about the Arab media and its influence in the U.S.," she allows. "I said, 'No, there's not much influence, and the reason why is because wealthy Arabs did not choose to invest in global media. And the wealthy Jewish people and pro-Zionists did invest.' The point I was trying to make is that the Arab audience should not expect that their story is being told if their own wealthy Arab men are not investing, and are not telling their story. And the pro-Zionist and Jewish men are telling their own stories. So why should we be surprised that the Palestinian story isn't being accurately portrayed in the Western media?"

This viewpoint is sure to raise hackles, particularly among Republican voters -- and Andrews' take on it is justifiable. Too bad his vitriolic tone gets into race- and faith-baiting territory. In a roster of endorsements recently sent to folks (like yours truly) who are on his e-mail list, for example, he said that Sinclair "talks like an Islamist mole." Predictably, Sharf goes even further, linking to stuff like a Tundra Tabloid post complete with a photo of Sinclair that labels her an "Israel-Hating Republican." Irony alert: Sinclair says the original image featured her posing in Israel alongside Haim Yavin, a veteran Israeli television anchor who's among the people who've signed an online "Statement of Support" that condemns the "recent religious and ethnic attacks" against her.

Indeed, Sharf has thrown a lot of nasty accusations at Sinclair, with help from surrogates like Andrews. That's life in the Internet age. But if the Post is going to publish them, either in print or online, it needs to insist that the material meets its standards. If the most recent Andrews piece does, those standards have slipped in a major way. -- Michael Roberts

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