It is in this genteel setting that Ms. Geller, 52 and a single mother of four, wakes each morning shortly after 7, switches on her laptop and wages a form of holy war throughAtlas Shrugs, a Web site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPalat one point branded it a hate site. Working here — often in fuzzy slippers — she hascalled for the removal of the Dome of the Rock from atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; posted doctored pictures ofElena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, in aNazi helmet; suggested the State Department was run by“Islamic supremacists”; and referred tohealth care reform as an act of national rape.
Ms. Geller has been writing since 2005, but this summer she skyrocketed to national prominence as the firebrand in chief opposingPark51, the planned Muslim community center she denounces as “the ground zero mega-mosque.”
Operating largely outside traditional Washington power centers — and, for better or worse, without traditional academic, public-policy or journalism credentials — Ms. Geller, with a coterie of allies, has helped set the tone and shape the narrative for a divisive national debate over Park51 (she calls the developer a“thug” and a “lowlife”). In the process, she has helped bring into the mainstream a concept that after 9/11 percolated mainly on the fringes of American politics: that terrorism by Muslims springs not from perversions of Islam but from the religion itself. Her writings, rallies and television appearances have both offended and inspired, transforming Ms. Geller from an Internet obscurity, who once videotaped herself in a bikini as she denounced “Islamofascism,” into a media commodity who has been profiled on “60 Minutes” and whose phraseology has been adopted byNewt Gingrich andSarah Palin.
Does it not occur to any of these people that they’re feeding the beast? That part of what makes Geller worth noticing is that people are noticing her? That she’s “become” an acceptable voice in American media because the American media have MADE her an acceptable voice? The passive voice is not the reader’s friend in this instance.
Read this sentence again:
Her writings, rallies and television appearances have both offended and inspired, transforming Ms. Geller from an Internet obscurity, who once videotaped herself in a bikini as she denounced “Islamofascism,” into a media commodity who has been profiled on “60 Minutes” and whose phraseology has been adopted byNewt Gingrich andSarah Palin.
Her TV appearances have transformed her into someone who makes other TV appearances. For chrissakes. TV producers who only have one name filed under L for Lunatic or B for Bigot don’t get a pass here. Neither does any reporter who calls somebody who’s been quoted by a lot of other reporters. Lazy reporting is lazy reporting.
In about two more paragraphs, we discover that the NY Times assignment editors who greenlighted this piece have no pride at all, nor respect for their employees, as they gleefully grant real estate (and don’t try to tell me this is some kind of hit piece, the passive praise scattered throughout here, as well as the random selection of bloggers credible enough to quote, make that impossible) to someone who hates them:
THE day last December when The New York Times firstreported plans to build a Muslim community center two blocks from ground zero, Atlas Shrugs immediately objected. “I don’t know which is more grotesque,”Ms. Geller wrote, “jihad or the NY Times preening of it.”
This thing goes from mildly infuriating to fucking gross:
Mr. Spencer and Ms. Geller said they would rather have galvanized the nation with accounts of Muslim girls killed by male relatives over violations of family “honor.”
Yes. It was a major bummer you could only use dead firefighters and not dead Muslim girls to make your point. Dead Muslim girls are much, much better copy.
And then we get back to the poisonous passivity again:
It is difficult to determine who finances their movement, since their new organization has yet to win tax-free status requiring documentation of donations. Mr. Spencer estimated that since 2009, the two have raised and spent about $150,000 for things like the bus ads and giant television screens for the 9/11 rally, some of it donated through Mr. Spencer’s Jihad Watch, a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency. In recent years, Jihad Watch has been a program of theDavid Horowitz Freedom Center, which pays him a $132,000 salary and, asPolitico.com has reported, has received significant contributions fromphilanthropists who back the Israeli right.
Asked how much her blog collects in reader donations and advertisements (one promotes acreationist Web site), Ms. Geller said only that it was enough to live on.
It’s difficult to find out who finances the movement, even though (as the Times chickenassedly puts in a link)it’s totally possible to find out who finances the movement:
Though it was not listed on the public tax reports filed by Horowitz’s Freedom Center, POLITICO has confirmed that the lion’s share of the $920,000 it provided over the past three years to Jihad Watch came from Chernick, whose husband, Aubrey Chernick, has a net worth of $750 million, as a result of his 2004 sale to IBM of a software company he created, and a security consulting firm he now owns.
A onetime trustee of the …Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Aubrey Chernickled the effort to pull together $3.5 million in venture capital to start Pajamas Media, a conservative blog network …
The David Horowitz Freedom Center had a budget of $4.5 million last year, according to its tax filings, of which $290,000 came from the conservative Bradley Foundation, which also gave $75,000 to the Center for Security Policy last year. Horowitz has received an average of $461,000 a year in salary and benefits over the past three years, while Spencer has pulled in an average of $140,000, according to the center’s IRS filings.
But hey, she just happened to burst upon the national scene and become a phenomenon and make TV appearances! She must be speaking for some deep part of the American psyche! We’d better not miss out on reporting on this important person! Quick, everybody, to the Batmobile.
This goes to the heart of what I talk about with regard to all our media all the time, which can be basically boiled down to: SACK UP. If you don’t want to cover something, don’t cover it. If you think something’s seriously crazy, don’t give credence to the crazy by doing three-page profiles on it talking about how awesome its bazillion-dollar co-op living space is. If some other news organization lets a crazy person come on, instead of falling all over yourself to book her next, try standing alone. Try having those standards you like to jaw on bloggers all the time for lacking.
People like Pam Geller don’tbecome influential voices. They’remade influential voices. With lots of dirty wingnut bigot cash buying them entry to this kind of circle jerk.