Back on April 9, radio host Ed Schultz boasted of his high regard for accuracy while telling listeners about his new television show on MSNBC --
Where I work, they don't put stuff on the air unless it's accurate and they differentiate between opinion and fact. And in my world I think that's kind of important. On The Ed Show (Schultz's program on MSNBC), I'm not going to tell you something that I know isn't the truth.
Operative words here -- "kind of." And apparently Schultz's "world" doesn't extend to his nationally syndicated radio show, the top rated among so-called progressive talkers.
Two weeks later, on April 24, a caller to Schultz's radio show claimed that revelations about waterboarding of al Qaeda operatives led to the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and the lynching of four military contractors by an angry mob in Fallujah.
"I think all of this happened after this waterboard stuff came out," claimed the caller, identified as "Larry" from New Jersey. "You know, and in retaliation they did this to the American soldiers and to that reporter."
Schultz initially said he was uncertain about any connection, but revisited the caller's claim at the start of the next segment (click here for audio) --
SCHULTZ: Now getting back to a caller previously on the topic that the caller mentioned earlier, Daniel Pearl. He was the journalist who was murdered. He was killed on February 1st of 2002, after the prisoner abuses had come to light at Gitmo. Pearl's killers included pictures of detainee abuse at Gitmo in the video of their demands.
If you are skeptical of the timeline here, it's with good reason. Pearl was kidnapped on Jan. 23, 2002 -- the same month the first jihadist detainees arrived at Guantanamo. And Pearl's captors did not allege abuse at Gitmo, contrary to what Schultz claims. Here is a description of their demands, as reported by the New York Times on Jan. 28, 2002 --
Among the conditions are demands for the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners taken from Afghanistan to Cuba and for the release of the F-16 fighter jets that Pakistan bought from the United States in the 1980s. The fighter jets were not delivered after Congress in 1990 cut off aid and military sales to Pakistan in response to the country's moves to develop nuclear weapons.
Two of the pictures sent with the e-mail message show Mr. Pearl in wrist and ankle shackles. In one, a gun is pointed at his head. Another shows a Thursday issue of the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.
Pearl's captors did, however, release a video the following month, one that showed Pearl stating their demands -- shortly before his throat was cut and the 38-year-old reporter was beheaded.
I spent considerable time this morning searching online for the video. To my relief, I was not able to find it.
One of the places I checked was the Web site of the Boston Phoenix, which published a link to the video in June 2002 (the link is no longer active).
Two weeks ago, the Phoenix touched off a media controversy by publishing on its Web site a link to the four-minute propaganda video made by Pearl's captors. It is a slick and sickening production: Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, is seen talking at length about his Jewish background while the screen is splashed with images of Palestinian suffering. (emphasis added and again) He also talks about the alleged sins of the United States, comparing his own captivity to that of the Al Qaeda and Taliban militants being held at Guantanamo Bay. Then, after a quick fadeout, we see Pearl's apparently dead body lying on a floor as someone hacks off his head with a large knife. Finally, a hand holds up Pearl's head, and the anti-Israel propaganda continues to roll. "This is the single most gruesome, horrible, despicable, and horrifying thing I've sever seen," wrote Phoenix publisher Stephen Mindich in an online note headlined THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL PORNOGRAPHY, which accompanied the link.
Palestine or Guantanamo, imprisonment or abuse -- as they say in Schultz's world, whatever.