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November 17, 2006

Following Leads Nowhere

No matter what their intentions are, advocacy groups and progressive organizations can dish out propaganda as easily as government agencies and corporations can. And when that happens, you can count on The NewStandard to be equally skeptical of all sources.

Case in point: The Institute for Public Accuracy, an organization that strives to give "media access" to marginalized groups, sent us a press release listing professors and activists expressing alarm at the representative Democrats are expected to elect to chair the House International Relations Committee.

In the statement, critics of Tom Lantos (D-Cali.) say his hawkish views and avid support for Israel will make attempts to avoid military action difficult.

There could be legitimate concerns about Lantos’ leadership in this committee. But they can’t be found in the exaggerated claims made in the IPA release. Upon researching the claims, I found that at the end of the day, Lantos is likely no different from any other Democrat. Here are the claims IPA-commissioned sources make in both the press release and in interviews I conducted:

1.) He did far more than vote for the authorization of the war in Iraq. He was one of the floor managers for the vote in favor.

This implies that he was one of the orchestrators of the resolution. But actually he was one of 136 co-sponsors of the resolution, and as a floor manager, he was responsible for allocating debate time among Congress members who also supported the war. A Lantos spokesperson said he was the floor manager because of his ranking in the House International Relations committee.

2) He "co-authored" pro-Israel resolutions condemning terrorist attacks against Israel and expressing solidarity with Israel in fighting terrorists.

He was one of two co-sponsors (and the only Democrat) of a resolution authored by Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) passed this July. He was one of 112 co-sponsors of a 2002 resolution "expressing solidarity" with Israel.

4) "When he takes over as Chair of the House International Relations Committee, Lantos won't be a 'stay the course' kind of fellow. I'm afraid he'll be more 'let's hit Iran.'" Early this year, Lantos wrote the article "Now or Never to Prevent a Nuclear-Armed Iran."

Reading this assertion, my first thought was that Lantos wrote an article calling for military action against Iran. In fact, he called for heavy international sanctions against the country.

5) "Even if the Democrats are sincere in their vows to change Iraq policy, they'll find Lantos won't be just a bump in the road. They're going to run into a wall."

Lantos co-wrote a letter to the president with 11 other Democrats that, among other things, called for a "phased redeployment" of troops from Iraq.

We thought we’d lay out this non-story to show you what goes into our reporting – the research, fact-checking and constant skepticism. In the end, readers know we publish articles because we think they have a news value, and not because they look good on the screen (title of press release: Hawk slated to chair International Relations).

It isn’t that Lantos isn’t a hawk, or that we have anything good to say about him. It just isn’t a news flash that most Democrats are pro-Israel and generally pro-war. Maybe people who thought the latest election would usher in an era of peace would be startled to learn that it is not imminent, but we doubt our readers are among them.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.