Politifact, the fact-checking arm of the St. Petersburg Times, stamped a big fat FALSE on a claim Glenn made about Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood last week. But were they correct? We here at the Stu Blog rate their claim an UTTERFAIL.
Here is the claim the Politifact decided to (poorly) fact-check:
"We told you this week how if (President Hosni) Mubarak does step down, however, the Muslim Brotherhood would be the most likely group to seize power. They've openly stated they want to declare war on Israel and they would end the peace agreement with Israel and they would work towards instituting something we told you about, a caliphate."
That’s a lot to unpack. We decided to check Beck’s claim that the Brotherhood has "openly stated they want to declare war on Israel," because so much of the debate in the United States revolves around the Muslim Brotherhood's’ intentions toward the main U.S. ally in the region.
Fair enough. They do a little homework and come up with this:
Sure enough, three days earlier he informed viewers that "a top official in the Muslim Brotherhood has just said that … ‘The people should be prepared for war against Israel.’"
Who was that top official? Beck’s website pointed to a Feb. 1, 2011, item in the Jerusalem Post that had a "leading member" of the Brotherhood, Muhammad Ghannem, declaring that "the people should be prepared for war against Israel."
Since they’re not saying the quote was inaccurate, or that it came from a source outside the Muslim Brotherhood, you might assume that they would rate it as “true.” But, Glenn Beck doesn’t get that benefit of the doubt.
Also, notice that they’re not actually fact-checking Glenn. They aren’t saying that he misquoted the source of the story, the Jerusalem Post. If anything, this should theoretically be a fact-check of the Jerusalem Post. If somehow the Jerusalem Post was wrong, it’s hard to blame Glenn for reporting their error.*
So, what mental gymnastics are they using to get to a FALSE rating? They go, without irony, to quite possibly the least trustworthy source imaginable when dealing with Glenn Beck: The Woodrow Wilson Center. I’m not kidding.
"I have never heard of [Muhammad Ghannem]," said Dr. Jason Brownlee, a scholar with the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. "It’s a big organization, and there may be people who say things like that, but that doesn’t mean it’s policy. It doesn’t jibe with my experience visiting Egypt and doing research on the Muslim Brotherhood for over a decade."
So, the FALSE rating comes from Glenn accurately quoting a newspaper, accurately quoting a Muslim Brotherhood member, who apparently doesn’t rise high enough on the Muslim Brotherhood popularity list for the Woodrow Wilson Center. What a devastating case.
Perhaps if this was the whole story, and you decided that you trusted good ol’ Woodrow over the Jerusalem Post, you could give Glenn a MOSTLY TRUE, but it should never get worse than that. However, unfortunately for Politifact, that’s not the whole story.
For example, lets look at “The Voice of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood” Youssef al-Qaradawi. He is described by that notably non-right wing magazine Der Spiegel as “the father figure of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the country's best-organized opposition group” with an audience of 60 million Sunni Muslims. He is also ranked the 9th most influential Muslim on the planet.
What does the father figure of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood have to say about Glenn’s “FALSE” claim that they “openly stated they want to declare war on Israel.”
As Der Spiegel writes:
“He hates Israel and would love to take up arms himself. In one of his sermons, he asked God "to kill the Jewish Zionists, every last one of them.”
You see, leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood most certainly do want war with Israel. Glenn’s statement is clearly true. And Politifact is standing deep in a puddle of UTTERFAIL with their false rating.
But Youssef al-Qaradawi doesn’t just validate the narrow part of the statement that Politifact focused on.Glenn also said the Muslim Brotherhood “would work towards instituting something we told you about, a caliphate."
From Der Spiegel:
"Qaradawi advocates establishing a "United Muslim Nations" as a contemporary form of the caliphate and the only alternative to the hegemony of the West. “
And Glenn said the Brotherhood “would end the peace agreement with Israel.”
This part actually isn’t controversial at all, which is likely why Politifact ignored it. The favorability of Israel in Egypt is literally 3%. Even the guy America hopes takes over the presidency has already said the peace accord is dead. But if you really are questioning whether the Brotherhood would end the peace accord—I give you this gem from the “The Voice of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood”:
"Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by [Adolf] Hitler."
Look, Politifact is too far left for my taste, but I think they do some good work. However, this attack on Glenn is a mistake and it should be corrected.
*NOTE: For example, for several weeks, Media Matters has been breathlessly printing the completely false claim that we charged for the viewing of our TV show in Wilmington, OH in December. We’ve just sort of been laughing at them from afar—watching them make asses of themselves. But to be fair, they got that fact from a local Wilmington paper that just made a mistake. You can’t really blame Media Matters for that. I suppose they could have done some leg work to check it out, like maybe calling one person in the town to verify it before accusing Glenn of pocketing the money. But hey, it’s increasingly irrelevant Media Matters we’re talking about.