28-MILLION ANTI-ISLAM DVDs SENT TO SWING STATES

Tens of millions of controversial DVDs warning of the threat of radical Islam were inserted in dozens of major newspapers and delivered over the weekend to households in “swing states” across the nation.
The DVDs of the hour-long film, made in 2005, and titled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” arrived Saturday with several newspapers including North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer in Raleigh and in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, among others. Delivery with Florida’s Miami Herald as well as several other prominent dailies in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Fort Myers and Orlando were scheduled for distribution the following day.
The documentary included scenes of Muslim children being encouraged to become suicide bombers along with shots from Nazi rallies. The cover of the DVD says: “The threat of Radical Islam is the most important issue facing us today. But it’s a topic that neither the presidential candidates nor the media are discussing openly. It’s our responsibility to ensure we can all make an informed vote in November.”
The film was shown on Fox News just before the 2006 mid-term elections, and conservative activist David Horowitz screened the film on college campuses in 2007, stirring much controversy.
While the group, funded by the Clarion Fund, claimed its goal was not to affect voters in the upcoming election, the DVDs were all sent to swing states and an article on the group’s site, http://www.radicalislam.org, all but endorsed John McCain this past week—but it was removed shortly after.
Despite some protests from Muslim and liberal activists, the newspapers—all hard hit by drops in ad revenue in the face of an unstable economy—have defended their actions by stating that the DVD does not violate their standards.
A spokesperson at the New York Times told Editor and Publisher, the nation’s oldest journal covering the newspaper industry, the Times last Sunday inserted 145,000 DVDs in its papers delivered to cities in the swing states including in Denver, Miami/Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando, Detroit, Kansas City, St Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee/Madison.
An article on the site of Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Morning-Call on Saturday revealed that it would be inserted in the next day’s paper. The article continued, “A call to Clarion wasn’t returned, but the nonprofit’s spokesman, Gregory Ross, told the Harrisburg Patriot-News this week that 28 million copies of the DVD are being distributed nationwide throughout September. He said the intent is not to sway voters’ opinions about the presidential candidates.”
It has already been packaged and sent out with dozens of large papers including the Denver Post and Columbus Dispatch. Another article explaining the delivery runs online at the News & Observer.
When Editor and Publisher questioned the New York Times Company spokeswoman Diane McNulty about their policy on the DVD insert, she said, “We believe the broad principles of freedom of the press confer on us an obligation to keep our advertising columns as open as possible. Therefore our acceptance or rejection of an advertisement does not depend on whether it coincides with our editorial positions. In fact, there are many instances when we have published opinion advertisements that run counter to the stance we take on our own editorial pages.
“We do require that opinion advertisements include the name of the sponsoring organization and a mailing address or a telephone number. This enables our readers to communicate directly with the sponsor should they seek additional information or wish to express agreement or disagreement with the advertised message. This advertisement complied with these requirements. The address on the advertisement was The Clarion Fund, 255 West 36th Street Suite 800 New York, NY 10018.”
But at least one newspaper turned away the money and refused to distribute it, calling it “divisive.” The editor of North Carolina’s Greensboro News & Record, John Robinson, explained, “Many newspapers across the county distributed a controversial DVD today about Islam, titled ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.’ … We did not distribute it. I was not involved in the decision; it was an advertising call, in keeping with advertising policies.
“I asked our publisher about it. He said it was divisive and plays on people’s fears and served no educational purpose. The revenue it would have brought in was not a motivator.
“As I’ve said on other occasions about news decisions, just because you can publish doesn’t mean you should.”

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