We’re all for fair and balanced reporting here, but give us a break.
Sunday’s Dearborn Press & Guide ran an updated version of its Wednesday breaking news story on the arrest and arraignment of Houssein Zorkot, the man whose “personal jhad” commenced a week ago Friday when he deployed at Dearborn’s Hemlock Park with his just-purchased, and loaded, AK-47. Zorkot is now continuing his personal jihad in jail with a million-dollar bond. ("Man with AK-47 nabbed at Hemlock Park").
As much information as Mayor Jack O’Reilly’s office and law enforcement had been willing to release (the mayor and the police sat on this story for four days, finally issuing a press release only after Zorkot was arraigned in open court on Tuesday), the Press & Guide duly reported.
This in itself was a pleasant surprise from the Press & Guide, which has a firm editorial policy of avoiding publication of news or commentary critical of Dearborn’s Muslim population.
Nonetheless, when the Press & Guide ran this story on Wednesday as breaking news, ("Man with AK-47 assault rifle arrested after leaving Dearborn's Hemlock"), it seemed to play the facts straight, though it failed to mention Zorkot's Hezbollah sympathies. In fairness, reporter Sean Delaney may not have had that information yet. But his coverage was more useful than the 130 words the Detroit Free Press gave it in their “News Briefs” section, (though Zorkot and his AK did get higher billing than the disbanding of Grosse Ile’s community theater).
But after the Hezbollah connection became undeniable, when Sean Delaney updated his Press & Guide article later in the week, the familiar reluctance of Dearborn's major newspaper to report hard facts about jihadist influence in Dearborn reappeared.
As Delaney reported, after police obtained a search warrant for Zorkot’s home,
“a laptop computer and several pictures were seized.
“According to Mayor Jack O'Reilly, several of the pictures were taken during a recent trip by Zorkot to Lebanon, and featured him standing in front of pro-Hezbollah billboards.”
By the time this appeared, we didn’t need Mayor O’Reilly to tell us about Zorkot's pictures of Lebanon, because Zorkot has a website we all visited, and the pictures posted there are probably the same ones. Looking at them, it is impossible to conclude anything else than that Zorkot is committed to Hezbollah, its mission, and its point of view on jihad.
Delaney also reported O’Reilly saying, “These pictures alone are not enough to connect him to Hezbollah, but his Web site suggests that he does have an affinity for the group.”
That’s when Delaney decides he needs to provides his readers with the following context:
"Hezbollah has been designated as a terrorist group by at least six countries, including the United States. In Lebanon, it represents one of the country's two major political parties.
"The group allegedly has been involved in numerous paramilitary activities, including a war between Lebanon and Israel in 2006.
"While Hezbollah is viewed as a terrorist threat by several nations, others regard the group as a resistance movement."
Now, some folks may think O’Reilly is being too kind because he won't come out and say the pictures "connect" Zorkot to Hezbollah. I happen to believe he is saying as much as he can, considering that the police and the prosecutor’s office have a very strict procedural course to follow in proving a case against Zorkot, that is, they're going to have to support all their charges with facts and evidence, and do it in careful obedience to due process and the rule of law. Officials shooting their mouths off before investigations are complete, and before Zorkot’s gotten his due process in court, is not the way to ensure maximum criminal penalties against a clearly dangerous man.
He is entitled, in other words, to his day in court to defend against the charges stemming from he did or didn’t do that night in Hemlock Park.
But Hezbollah is not entitled to its day in court. Hezbollah is not entitled to zealous advocacy that it is "not guilty" of terrorism, especialy advocacy from Dearborn's local newspaper.
Delaney’s need to provide balancing arguments to the overwhelming evidence of Hezbollah’s deserved reputation as a murderous terrorist organization is coming from who-knows-where. Hezbollah is not one of two political parties in Lebanon, like the Republicans or Democrats, but one of many; nor is it a home-grown party, as it has been well-demonstrated to be a creature of the Iranian revolution and a puppet of the Syrians.
And can Delaney seriously believe Hezbollah’s involvement in last year’s war against Israel has only been “alleged”? (“The United States Congress, angered over what some believe was Imperial Japan’s alleged involvement in the bombing attack on Pearl Harbor, declared war today…”).
And how is it that Delaney’s remark that “Hezbollah is viewed as a terrorist threat by several nations” seems so oddly familiar just now?
Oh yes! Zorkot has a prominently streaming banner on his website: “HIZBOLLAH IS NOT A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION! HIZBOLLAH IS A NATIONAL RESISTANCE ORGANIZATION!”
For Delaney to make room for this kind of thing is not balanced reporting, because it's got nothing to do with facts. It's either advocacy, or else just a wrongheaded fastidiousness about hurting the feelings of Hezbollah-supporters who read the Press & Guide.
Regardless of whether it’s motivated by fear of angry visits to the editor’s office from CAIR , or genuine partiality to the “Hezbollah is a resistance movement” credo, Hezbollah does not deserve this kind of benefit of the doubt.