Posted on | October 2, 2013 | 14 Comments
You may not remember that weird Aug. 29 item from Minnesota-based MintPressNews.com — I saw the headline, but dismissed it as obvious propaganda — but some people took it seriously, because it carried the byline of a veteran Mideast correspondent for the Associated Press, Dale Gavlak. Yet there was something distinctly fishy about this story: How could a Web site with no previous reputation as a source for foreign affairs reporting suddenly get this “EXCLUSIVE” story that, rather conveniently, was in direct contradiction of what everyone believed about the situation in Syria?
Whereas reports of chemical weapon use against the rebels by the Assad regime had aroused worldwide indignation, this little-known Web site based in Minnesota had a story claiming the opposite was true, that in fact it was the Syrian rebels who had gassed innocent civilians, and that the Saudis had supplied the poison gas.
Beginning with that basic common-sense impression that something didn’t add up, Rosie Gray started digging around and asking questions. She discovered a story involving Mnar Muhawesh, a 26-year-old “progressive” editor who, as an undergraduate at St. Cloud State University, had gained recognition as “the first reporter to wear a hijab on the school’s TV news program.”
The young editor’s brother-in-law, Muhammad Muhawes, is managing editor of MintPressNews.com, and it appears that the money behind the operation comes via the editor’s father-in-law, “Odeh Muhawesh, 54, a Minneapolis businessman born in Jordan,” who “studied under an ayatollah for five years after the Islamic Revolution.”
As I say, fishy.
Anyway, having first met Rosie Gray out on the 2012 campaign trail, and having occasionally given BuzzFeed a hard time — they hate it when you call them a “liberal blog” — I was quite impressed with this particular exercise in long-form reporting. The principle of credit where credit is due requires me to praise this article, urge you to go read the whole thing, and thank Rosie Gray on Twitter.
Good work, Rosie. But I still say BuzzFeed is a liberal blog.