by Warner Todd Huston | September 8, 2011 12:38 pm
USA Today published a story recently by Bob Smietana of the Nashville newspaper The Tennessean attacking the integrity and work of well-known Christian First Amendment defense attorney Jay Sekulow that is shocking for what is left out.
Sekulow is the head man of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Washington D.C.-based organization that takes on attackers of Christian’s First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion, a tempting target in some corners of America’s political establishment.
In fact, writer Smietana didn’t just write one piece attacking Sekulow and the ACLJ but in the space of only a few days wrote two. In one piece Smietana accuses Sekulow and his family of making too much money from the charities they represent and in the second he claims that the ACLJ might be improperly pursuing cases not in its tax exempt charter.
In both cases Smietana employs the “some say” style of indictment by writing innuendoes backed up by little actual evidence, but the piece in USA Today is by far the worst example of the tactic.
In the USA Today piece, Smietana makes the assertion that Mr. Sekulow and his family are making too much money in salaries and fees by being on some of the boards and being advisers and the like for the various charities that use Sekulow’s legal counsel.
It is interesting to note that even as the writer makes all sorts of accusations, he ends up mentioning that the Sekulow family and their endeavors have passed muster with the IRS and the federal government. So, on one hand Smietana slimes the Sekulow family with innuendo, suspicions and claims, yet on the other hand notes that the very claims he lays out there have been proven baseless by the government.
It’s almost like the old famous fallacy, the loaded question, “have you stopped beating your wife yet?”
Worse, Smietana also trots out the left’s favorite “what would Jesus do” canard to attack the Sekulow family for making a living from their legal and charity work. “The founder of a different Christian legal organization takes aim at the idea of Sekulow profiting in the name of religion, saying it isn’t what Jesus would do,” Smietana writes.
Interestingly, Smietana does not identify the “different Christian legal organization” nor the man that supposedly that made the charge against the Sekulows.
Smietana then goes on to accuse the Sekulows of some sort of shady wrongdoing by having a too cozy relationship between the ACLJ and another organization that the Sekulows control called Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (CASE).
Smietana found one of those “experts” of which the Old Media is so fond to warn that the ACLJ and CASE are somehow not acting in the interests of the Christian organizations and donors to the groups.
Nonprofit board members are supposed to be independent and look out for the best interests of donors. That’s nearly impossible with so many family members on a board, he said, after reviewing three years of CASE and ACLJ tax returns.
Again, the IRS and the federal government have not found this charge to be so. All tax papers and legal filings have been crystal clear showing what the Sekulow family are up to. Further there are no complaints tendered to government authorities from any of those with whom the Sekulow family are involved. This is all just Smietana’s suppositions and suspicions.
As to the ACLJ, they’ve issued a press release saying that Smietana did not return phone calls to clear up questions, failed to use information supplied to him, and badly mislead his readers as a result.
The reporter was given specific examples of ACLJ’s impact at the global, national, and personal level but chose not to include those examples to further his flawed and misleading story. The reporter was aware of our offices in Russia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South Korea and Pakistan. He makes no mention of them. The reporter was aware that our Supreme Court work is supplemented by work at all levels of federal and state courts as well as work in international legal tribunals, yet chose to provide a partial and inaccurate listing of our Supreme Court cases in a short sidebar (for example, in one case he transformed a 7-2 Supreme Court win into a loss).
Mr. Smietana provided a flawed analysis of our work, not understanding the scope and nature of our legal practice. He ignored the facts and rejected pertinent information about the organization. Instead, he relied on criticism from individuals who are unfamiliar with the organization’s business operations and do not know the facts.
As a result, the ACLJ says Smietana is a “journalist with an agenda.” What ever the case, he most certainly does not write with integrity. He uses innuendo, makes shadowy unclear charges, and seems intent to prove a notion preconceived before he even started writing.
It is pretty hard to deny the ACLJ’s suspicions that Smietana’s attacks are just more “in a series of attacks on Christian organizations” that we’ve seen in the last few decades.
Source URL: https://rightwingnews.com/democrats/usa-today-hit-piece-on-christian-defense-attorney-jay-sekulow/
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