For days now, numerous wingnut blogs -- from Redstate.com to The Right Wing Nation -- have been pushing the claim that Senate candidate Bob Casey (D) has been endorsed by the pan-Arabic TV network Al Jazeera. Incumbent Rick Santorum's (R) campaign even tried to turn this claim into a campaign issue, contacting local reporters to push the story.
There's only one problem. The claim that Al Jazeera endorsed Casey has now been shown to be completely false.
Here's what happened. A couple weeks ago, Santorum went on TV to denounce “Islamic fascism.” Not long after that, an article titled “Senator Santorum Repugnant Remarks on Islam, Iran, and Syria” appeared at a website called Al Jazeerah.info. The article concluded, “Don’t ask Santorum to apologize, folks. Vote Democratic.”
The wingnuts jumped into action, and numerous blogs started pushing the line that this meant that the Arabic network had endorsed Casey. For example. RedState.com posted the story with the headline, “Al-Jazeerah to Pennsylvania: Vote Casey.” The Santorum campaign brought the story to the attention of the Pennsylvania Morning Call.
As it happens, taking the story to the local press proved to be a very bad idea indeed. Because a writer for the Call’s Capitol Ideas blog made a discovery: It turns out that the original article is not from Al-Jazeera, the Islamic news network, at all. Rather, it’s from a website that happens to also be called Al-Jazeerah (which means "island" in Arabic).
How did the Call blogger discover this? Well, he actually looked at the web site the original article was posted on. Good idea, right? The blog picks up the story:
What stood out for us was the fact that it explicitly mentioned the Lehigh Valley, making it unlikely that it had been penned by someone from the Al-Jazeera network headquarters in the U.A.E. The lay-out of the page is also too amateurish for a well-funded media operation. …
But if they had clicked on the site's Mission and Meaning link, they would have found that Khaku's letter was posted to the Web page of the Al-Jazeerah Peace Information Center, a four-year-old site operated by f the Dr. Hassan A. El-Najjar.
Al-Jazeera the news network, incidentally, also spells its name without an "h" at the end.
Thus informed, Santorum’s campaign apologized profusely for the error. We're joking! Actually, Santorum's spokeswoman still managed to use the incident to raise questions about Casey. She said, “Regardless, I wonder if Bob Casey agrees with these sentiments.”