Cleveland Plain Dealer religion reporter David Briggs used this blog post title yesterday when he did his initial report on Ahmed Alzaree's resignation:
New Cleveland imam quits before he starts
The title of the Plain Dealer Metro Section post by Briggs, which I believe was also used in the print edition:
New Islamic Center imam Ahmed Alzaree resigns
The Associated Press wrote up the story with very minor modifications that mentioned the Homeland Security issues Alzaree acquaintance Wagdi Ghoneim had with the US Department of Homeland Security. The AP's headline writer then, incredibly, applied this headline (link is to MSNBC; headline is present at several other sites):
Blog critics force imam to resign at Ohio mosque
I have two words for AP: As if.

Cross-posted at the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Wide Open blog. Also, this BizzyBlog post has links to previous posts and further updates.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer's David Briggs, quoted in entirety for fair use and discussion purposes -- the news and the preceding posts explain it all:

New Cleveland imam quits before he starts

Imam Ahmed Alzaree announced Monday, three days before he was to start work as the spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, that he was resigning.

Alzaree said allegations by bloggers that he was anti-Semitic and was associated with individuals suspected of having terrorist ties so poisoned the atmosphere in Northeast Ohio that he and his wife, Marwa, decided to look elsewhere.

"Cleveland now is a nightmare for her," Alzaree said. "It will never be a good start for me and the Jewish community.

The mosque has accepted Alzaree's resignation, Zahid Siddiqi, general secretary of the mosque's executive committee, said Monday afternoon.

"We certainly don't want to impose on him and his family," Siddiqi said.

Alzaree is the former spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Omaha.

Links to previous posts are after the jump.

Update: Briggs posted a much longer piece just after 5PM, apparently for the Metro section.

UPDATE, Oct. 26, 10 p.m.: A Plain Dealer report by David Briggs entitled "New Cleveland imam hopes to ease Muslim-Jewish relations" went up today (Oct. 26) at 1:56 PM. I am deferring comment on it until sometime Monday, as new info has become available that requires vetting (original plan to respond Saturday was moved to Sunday, and has now been moved again).


Note: This has been posted at NewsBusters because it addresses an example of what I believe is lax local media coverage that may be occurring in other communities around the country. I have closed comments off at this post so that all comments end up at Part 2.

Don't Cleveland Plain Dealer readers and the community deserve to know if the Islamic Center of Cleveland's new imam is the same as the old imam?

On September 25 at 2:30 PM, Cleveland Plain Dealer Religion Reporter David Briggs posted a blog entry ("Islamic Center hires new imam to replace deported cleric") about the naming of Ahmed Alzaree as the new imam at the Islamic Center of Cleveland (ICC).

In that post, he noted that:

UPDATE, Oct. 26, 10 p.m.: A Plain Dealer report by David Briggs entitled "New Cleveland imam hopes to ease Muslim-Jewish relations" went up today (Oct. 26) at 1:56 PM. I am deferring comment on it until sometime Monday, as new info has become available that requires vetting (original plan to respond Saturday was moved to Sunday, and has now been moved again).


Note: This has been posted at NewsBusters because it addresses an example of what I believe is lax local media coverage that may be occurring in other communities around the country.

Part 1 covered events and disclosures surrounding the announcement of the appointment, effective November 1, of Ahmed Alzaree to become the new imam at the Islamic Center of Cleveland (ICC), specifically:

  • The original September 25 blog post and September 26 print edition article communicating the announcement by the Cleveland Plain Dealer's David Briggs.
  • My September 25 blog post (Wide Open, BizzyBlog, and NewsBusters), revealing a March 2003 sermon given by Alzaree while at his previous post at the Islamic Center of Omaha (ICO), and Alzaree's association with now-deported imam Wagdi Ghoneim.
  • A follow-up article by the PD's Robert Smith which addressed some of the concerns about Alzaree, but which also left so many items unanswered that it was reasonable to expect that there would be some kind of additional follow-up by the paper in the coming days and weeks.
  • My post reacting to Smith's story.
  • The lack of PD follow-up since Smith's report.

In this post, I am reporting a number of additional items that I believe are relevant to Alzaree's imminent ascension to his new position.

It's time for yet another edition of Name That Party! According to NBC station WKYC, Ohio State Representative Matt Barrett was giving a lecture to some high school students when he inserted a memory stick and showed them a nude picture. Guess which party he belongs to? Supplementary credit will be given for guessing if the story included that affiliation anywhere.

There's something to be said for a slightly irreverent, punchy writing style when it comes to reporting political developments in an online news venture. But is conjuring up the image of Ohio as flyover country a way to endear outside-the-Beltway readers to The Politico?

In "Flyover states lose another Republican," writers Josh Kraushaar and John Bresnahan see trouble for the GOP in the 2008 congressional races with the retirement of Rep. David Hobson.:

Meet the New Imam, Same as the Old Imam?

This is one of those times when I really, really wonder about traditional media reporting.

You see, the Cleveland Plain Dealer spent almost six years, going all the way back to November of 2001, covering the saga of ultimately deported Cleveland Islamic leader Fawaz Damra. I count over 45 stories at the PD's Damra collection.

This story about Ohio has nationwide application. That's because Ohio's media have been awfully quiet about the tax increases that will be necessary if the Buckeye State's version of "universal health care" comes to pass. The bill was introduced on April 25, according to this Ohio Legislative Services Commission bill analysis, and has flown under the radar ever since. I expect that national Old Media scrutiny of the Second Coming of Hillarycare will also be minimal.

My interest in the so-called "Ohio Health Care Plan" was perked when I heard an ad from the Ohio Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) claiming that the plan would cost Ohio taxpayers $50 billion.

$50 billion. With a "b." In one state.

That's over $4,400 for every man, woman, and child in Ohio, or over $17,000 for a family of four.

A separate fiscal analysis by the Legislative Services Commission is pending, so I thought that the NFIB might be engaging in a bit of reckless hyperbole.

They are not.

Peter Bronson of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote a Sunday column (HT The Daily Bellwether) that was a withering attack on the blandness, lack of local coverage, and political correctness of chain news.

Bronson, at least for the moment, works at The Enquirer, which is owned by mega-chain operator Gannett Co., Inc. Gannett publishes 85 local newspapers and USA Today.

Here's Bronson on blandness:

I wonder if a steady diet of junk-food news causes high blood pressure, indigestion and poor circulation.

Bronson on local non-coverage:

Wherever the population density can support more than one freeway exit, the chains move in and sterilize any hint of local flavor. ..... Being dropped in the middle of a chain newspaper can be like being taken to a Waffle House blindfolded, then trying to figure out if you're in Iowa or Idaho.

But the Enquirer columnist gets in his best licks criticizing newsroom political correctness, serving up three examples of what surely has driven many NewsBusters readers to distraction over their own local papers:

The Pulitzer Prize winner's latest syndicated column is an offbeat gem about the "suspension of operations" that appears to presage the death of Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio:

There is, however, a minuscule market for what Antioch sells for a tuition, room and board of $35,221 -- repressive liberalism unleavened by learning.

Founded in 1852 -- its first president was Horace Mann -- Antioch was, for a while, admirable. One of the first colleges to enroll women and blacks, it was a destination for escaped slaves. Its alumni include Stephen Jay Gould, Coretta Scott King and Rod Serling, whose "Twilight Zone" never imagined anything weirder than what Antioch became when its liberalism curdled.

In 1972-73, Antioch had 2,470 students. In 1973, a protracted and embittering student and employee strike left the campus physically decrepit and intellectually toxic. By 1985, enrollment was down 80 percent. This fall there may be 300 students served by a faculty of 40.

There is a troubling undercurrent of seemingly routine violence and harassment that appears to have been the order of the day at the school:

The following was submitted by Jason Aslinger, a private practice attorney in Greenville, Ohio. Portions in bold below are the added emphasized of NB managing editor Ken Shepherd. It's a long post but it's worth the read:

In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision regarding racial integration in public schools, the media have gone out of their way to obscure the facts for the purpose of advancing its familiar political agenda, not to mention skipped over giving readers a glimpse of the concurring opinions of Justices Thomas and Kennedy, both of which shed light on the case's significance to the average American.

In a prior NewsBusters post, I called out MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for his false and race-baiting claim that the Supreme Court had “overturned” the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education. The subsequent commentary by the media has at least been more clever, but no less false. Undoubtedly, the press and “expert commentators” have calculated that the general public would not check their factual (and political) conclusions by reading the Court’s 185-page opinion. Without knowing the specific facts, the media distortions can not be fully appreciated. Below we'll take a look at the facts of the case as well as the reasoning from the justices, reasoning that all too often is glossed over if not outright ignored in the media.

Note: Though this post is primarily about Ohio's governor speaking at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet in Columbus last Sunday, it contains nationally significant info about connections between CAIR, Al Qaeda, and Hamas, and Old Media's non-coverage of those connections.


On Friday ("Strickland-CAIR Update: Reported Strickland Staffer Response"), I noted how staff member "Charles" in Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's office responded in a conversation with a constituent relayed to me by a trusted source. The constituent objected to the governor's June 17 appearance at CAIR-Ohio's annual banquet -- a banquet also attended by CAIR's national chairman of the board. In part, the constituent reported the following:

"Charles of his staff stated that he did a lot of research on CAIR and they were an organization that does a lot of good and no more terrorist than the Jewish Defense Fund or Dr. James Dobson."