Kenneth R. Timmerman: Award Winning Journalist or Political Hack?
By Jim Fetzer and Joshua Blakeney
We have done some investigative research about Kenneth Timmerman, which we regret to report has not been reassuring. He publishes biased articles that reflect an extreme neoconservative point of view. He has attacked Ron Paul, the only GOP candidate with a sane foreign policy, and other experts who have also appeared on Press TV. He has gone so far as to assail the men whose company books satellite time for Press TV and to out them by name, an inexcusable lapse of journalistic ethics, where they are not public figures and his outrageous actions in attacking them for running their own legitimate business demonstrates a lack of ordinary human decency. And other offenses he commits run even deeper.
Perhaps the first key to understanding Kenneth Timmerman is how he presents himself. Here is one that appears on his sites: “Kenneth R. Timmerman is the New York Times best-selling author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum, 2005), among other works. His books and articles can be found at kentimmerman.com.” That Timmerman has a book about “the coming nuclear showdown with Iran” suggests that he has a vested interest in there being a nuclear showdown with Iran—which he appears to be doing his best to promote. His biography—actually, an autobiography–reeks of attempts to promote misleading accounts of recent historical events, including allegations that Iran was providing direct material support for the al Qaeda terrorists who were responsible for 9/11.
But this is a fantasy on several counts. A “showdown” would be one-sided because Iran has no nuclear weapons and there is no proof of them attempting to acquire them. It is also very widely known that al Qaeda had nothing to do with 9/11. And there is no good reason to suppose that Iran was ever supporting al Qaeda, which was a creation of the CIA in order to resist the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. Indeed, we have been told that al Qaeda was upset with Ahmadinejad after he challenged the official story of 9/11 during a UN speech that implied that al Qaeda was not involved, but that was a charade by a pseudo-entity, which we already knew on independent grounds.
Because Ron Paul is not an isolationist but instead a non-interventionist, who would dramatically scale back US military involvement around the world, and because Press TV features information that the CIA and the military-industrial complex would prefer that Americans never know, their motives for attacking both the candidate (Ron Paul) and the medium (Press TV) appear to have been overwhelming. Kenneth Timmerman appears to be the classic case of a Zionist apologist. To substantiate our conclusions about a man who appears to have no scruples, intellectual or journalistic, we shall discuss his most recent articles on these matters, so our readers can judge for themselves. In our view, they offer a stunning indictment of an award-winning journalist who is also a political hack.
US schemes plots to justify wars
Exhibit 1: Tehran TV loves Ron Paul
On 9 January 2012, Kenneth Timmerman published, “Tehran TV loves Ron Paul”, which was promoted as “a special report from the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism”. According to Timmerman, “The Iranian regime’s English language propaganda channel, Press TV, has discovered a new American idol: presidential contender Rep. Ron Paul”, which he attempts to substantiate on the basis of what he describes as “his anti-Israel rants, his claim that sanctions against Iran are “acts of war,” his approval of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and much more.” One of the ironies of his use of the term “propaganda” here, however, is that what he quotes from Ron Paul and from other “conspiracy theorists” who support him–to the best of our ability to sort these matters out–all appear to be true. Consider his quotes from Ron Paul:
“Just think of how many nuclear weapons surround Iran. The Chinese are there, the Indians are there, the Pakistanis are there, the Israelis are there, the United States is there. All these countries—China has nuclear weapons! Wouldn’t it be natural that they might want a weapon? Internationally, they’d be given more respect… They have no evidence that they are working on a weapon.” Paul blasts US policy on Iran, Aug. 12, 2011.
“I think we’re looking for trouble because we put these horrendous sanctions on Iran… Sanctions against Iran are definite steps toward a US attack.” “Iran sanctions ‘acts of war’: Ron Paul,” Dec. 31, 2011; “Ron Paul raps US hostility toward Iran,” Jan. 7, 2012.
“Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had never mentioned any intention of wiping Israel off the map.” Quick Facts: Ron Paul on US Foreign Policy, Dec. 24, 2011.
“Iran is not a physical threat to us. They do not have capabilities. The stories you might hear about them being on the verge of a nuclear weapon is not true by our CIA and by the United Nations. They are not on the verge of it.” Quick Facts: Ron Paul on US Foreign Policy, Dec. 24, 2011.
“Who are they [Iran] going to bomb? If they had one or two bombs, they are going to bomb Israel? Israel has 300 of them! And our submarines all around there passing and everything else.” Quick Facts: Ron Paul on US Foreign Policy, Dec. 24, 2011.
“I think they’re acting in self-defense… That is a gross distortion of this debate that they’re on the verge of a nuclear weapon.” Ron Paul defends his anti-war policies, Dec. 16, 2011
“At least our leaders and Reagan talked to the Soviets. What is so terribly bad about this? Countries you put sanctions on, you are more likely to fight them. I say a policy of peace is free trade, stay out of their internal business. Do not get involved in these wars and bring our troops home.” Ron Paul blasts US policy on Iran, Aug. 12, 2011
The facts of the matter include that Iran is surrounded by countries with nuclear weapons; that Israel has 200-600 of them; that Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while Israel has not; that Iran allows inspectors into its facilities, but Israel does not; that Iran has not attacked any other country for more than 300 years; that Iran poses no imminent threat to any nation; and that there are no indications that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, even though it is entitled to have them, where Iran could not possibly use them for offensive purposes without running the risk of national annihilation. The greatest risks to peace in this region come not from Iran but from “our gallant ally”, Israel.
The explanation for all of this hysteria about Iran “having the bomb”, moreover, appears to be to serve as a smoke-screen to mask the real reasons the US is so eager to attack Iran. Indeed, even representatives of the American Enterprise Institute have admitted that the real issue is not nuclear weapons but Iran’s increasing political influence in the Middle East. The deeper concern, however, appears to have to do with the desire by the US nuclear energy industry to avoid competition from Iran with regard to the sale of nuclear energy fuel rods, which could cut into their profits and destroy the current US monopoly that keeps prices artificially inflated. As in so many instances of the past in which the American military intervened on behalf of US-based lobbyists, this one is only different by virtue of the magnitude of the consequences that could accrue, including the potential extinction of our own species on Earth.
Iranian Nuclear Program Debate
Ron Paul is also anti-NeoCon
Timmerman also assails Ron Paul’s criticism of the neocon agenda: “While Press TV gives some coverage to economic issues—especially any factoid suggesting that poverty is on the rise in the United States—it frequently highlights Ron Paul’s refusal to see the Islamic regime in Iran as a potential threat, his pledge to bring American troops home from overseas, and especially his anti-Israel stance”, he writes. “Press TV editors introduce a montage of Ron Paul debate clips with the ominous onscreen title, “Do you know why the Israel lobby and Neocons hate US Congressman Ron Paul?”, where these clips, like those we have previously cited, all appear to be true:
“We’ve been at war in Iran a lot longer than 1979. We started it in 1953, when we sent in a coup and installed the Shah in a coup, and the blowback’s been going on ever since 1979 because we just plain don’t mind our own business. That’s the problem,” Paul says in one of these clips. And, in another, “We don’t even have a treaty with Israel. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and our money endlessly?”, which appear to be very good questions, but not ones that the military-industrial complex or Zionist hacks want the American people, in particular, to even consider, because they expose the soft underbelly of the corrupt policies that have been adopted by generations of US presidents, including most prominently George W. Bush and now Barack Obama.
Timmerman blasts Press TV for featuring guests he describes as “anti-Semitic” and as “conspiracy theorists”, as though criticism of the policies and the actions of the Israel government (anti-Zionism) could not be distinguished from actually discounting persons on the basis of their ethnic heritage or religious orientation (anti-Semitism). He is a master at the misuse of language for propagandistic purposes, where attacks upon those who are stating obvious truths as “anti-Semitic” becomes an all-purpose club to use in an effort to categorize and package what they have to say, in the hope that those who want to avoid “anti-Semitic rants” will not even bother to read them. Thus, he assails Mark Dankof, as a self-declared political analyst, who raises the question, “Will the Zionist lobby let him [Ron Paul] win?”
Thus, Kenneth Timmerman writes, “Dankof, who is a frequent guest on PressTV shows, explains that Ron Paul will lose because of the Jews. “If Paul should be successful early on in a couple of primaries or a couple of caucuses then I think the shrill voices in the Israeli-controlled American media will begin to become more aggressive in attacking him,” he says. Zionist lobbies demonizing Ron Paul, Dec. 3, 2011, and “Press TV touts Dankof as a ‘former U.S. Senate candidate,’ a ‘political commentator,’ or ‘political analyst’ as a way of plumping his resumé. The subterfuge is typical, and Dankof is reliably pro-Tehran, pro-Ron Paul and anti-American—lumping Barack Obama in the same basket as George W. Bush.”
According to Timmerman, “Dankof is typical of the type of rabidly anti-Israel, borderline anti-Semitic commentators Press TV relies on. Other regulars include the likes of Philip Giraldi, an ex-CIA officer who regularly denounces Israeli policies as ‘manifestly evil;’ Paul Sheldon Foote, who promotes Holocaust deniers; and a bevy of left-wing, ‘anti-war’ bloggers and 9/11 ‘truthers.’ He adds more, but none of it rises to the level of objective reporting. Far from qualifying as an “investigative journalist” himself, Timmerman comes across as a neocon zealot who has a predetermined point of view, which can be summed up by the final sentence of this hit on Press TV: “To Tehran’s conspiracy-minded political leaders, Ron Paul is a natural ally”, completely discounting that Press TV is dedicated to reporting truths and Ron Paul is disclosing a lot of unpleasant ones.
9/11: Iran, NO; Israel, YES!
Exhibit 2: Why doesn’t Obama ban Iranian Press TV?
On 25 January 2012, in his new, “Why doesn’t Obama ban Iranian Press TV?”, Timmerman reports, “Authorities in Britain revoked the license of the Iranian regime’s English-language global television channel known as Press TV because of evidence that it is a propaganda outlet controlled by the Iranian regime. But the Obama Administration permits the channel to operate on American soil without a license and in violation of U.S. sanctions regulations, which ban commercial transactions with Iran. It appears to be another example of Obama coddling the terrorist regime.” He encourages Obama to emulate the UK, which many view as among the most regressive nations in the world regarding the exercise of freedom of speech and of freedom of the press. Why someone who claims to be an “investigative reporter” would support such curtailments is a most interesting question.
Timmerman has not acknowledged that Press TV still has studios in the UK and that, if the US were to emulate the UK, then it would have the status quo where Press TV records some programs in the US but is compelled to broadcast them solely on the internet because they are being denied a US license. The Obama administration, however, has so far demonstrated the courage to resist these entreaties: “While other countries might not respect the right to a free press, this is something we take very seriously,” an official told Timmerman. “We like to stay true to our values.” Not to be deterred, he nevertheless continues, “But why do our values permit accommodating the actions of an illegal television entity devoted to propaganda and support for an outlaw regime that the Obama Administration itself says supports international terrorism?”
He maintains that, “The Obama Administration has continued to allow Press TV to operate unhindered in the United States, despite clear evidence that it is operating as a propaganda arm of the Iranian regime. Indeed, the State Department regularly entertains questions from Press TV reporters, and allows bloggers on its ‘DipNote’ website to plug rabid anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda with links to Press TV articles and interviews.” The same official told him, “If Press TV were to request a license to operate here in the U.S., the activities that led to having their license removed in the UK would certainly be reviewed by us,” a U.S. official said. “But for now, we cannot take a similar action because they have no license.”
Categorizing Presss TV as “a propaganda arm of the Iranian regime”, of course, is simply begging the question by taking your conclusion for granted. Press TV frequently has guests on both sides of complex issues. “In a series of email and telephone exchanges,” he continues, “officials at the Department of the Treasury refused to acknowledge whether the administration or its predecessors had granted Press TV a license to operate in the United States.” According to Timmerman, these officials explained, “We are unable to comment publicly on organizations that may or may not have received licenses from OFAC. However, we note that as an official propaganda arm of the Iranian government, Press TV has a history of fabricating news and has faced lawsuits in the UK for airing forced confessions,” a Treasury Department official said.”
Making these claims and substantiating them are entirely different matters, where it appears to us that more truth about foreign affairs can be found on Press TV and on Russia Today than can be found in The New York Times or The Washington Post. Were the US to contemplate proscribing media venues that promote racism and unlawful acts of violence, then the administration ought to consider focusing on various Zionist propaganda outlets, such as The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which was founded by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in the Israeli military intelligence, together with Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli-born, pioneer of the neoconservative movement. According to its website “MEMRI is headquartered in Washington, D.C.” The difference between the two foreign media outlets, as we see it, is that MEMRI promotes anti-Islamic bigotry, while Press TV seeks to foster cohesion between East and West.
American Awakening in a Bad Mood
Jim Fetzer, “Spewing Filth”
According to Timmerman, “Press TV takes the anti-American propaganda to a global level. Like the old Soviet propaganda networks, Press TV uses Americans to make the case against their own government and society. Consider the case of James Fetzer, “a prominent philosopher” who went on Press TV to comment on the violent turn of the Occupy movement in Oakland last November. He blamed the police. A professor [emeritus] at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Fetzer said, ‘We are seeing the increase in militarization of the police forces throughout the United States and that is a very bad tendency that has been taking place since 9/11. We see the rich getting richer and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. This gap has been widening since the administration of Ronald Reagan,’ Fetzer said.”
Timmerman continues, “He [Fetzer] went on: ‘What they are doing, the politicians are ignoring the needs of the average American and the working families. We have had increasing foreclosures, and unemployment is seen as the tip of an iceberg resistance to the corruption of politics in America… I believe this movement is not going to go away, and that what we are seeing is the real face of the police state of America has become.’ So because it operates illegally in violation of the law, the U.S. will take no action. This might be enough for administration lawyers, but it defies common sense.” Except that nothing he quotes from Fetzer appears to be false; on the contrary, his remarks, no doubt unsurprisingly, are accurate and to the point. Notice how Timmerman does not even attempt to refute what he says, but counts on his readers preconceptions to take for granted that Fetzer is wrong and, by inference, that Timmerman is right.
After assailing other source, Timmerman returns to his new favorite target of attack: “As it turns out, James H. Fetzer is indeed well-known—as a conspiracy theorist. In a Wikipedia entry tagged by editors as “an autobiography,” Fetzer is described as ‘a well-known conspiracy theorist,’ who has written extensively on the JFK assassination, 9/11, and the plane crash that killed U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. Fetzer claims, for example, that the film footage taken of the aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 was “video fakery” caused by “holographic projects (sic), because the high-speed crash was ‘in violation of Newton’s laws’ of physics.” While he is accurate in reporting those views, he ignores the mountain of evidence that substantiates them. Most of us would consider violations of inviolable laws of physics as a good reason to think something is wrong with those videos, but not this intrepid journalist!
Once again, he offers no reason to dispute Fetzer’s findings, but simply leaves it up to his audience to reject them based upon their preconceptions. If Timmerman really were an investigative journalist, then he ought to be investigating whether what Fetzer has reported is or is not true. He should explain what Fetzer claims and why he claims it and then offer his critique. That he does not do this offers powerful proof that he is not an “investigative reporter” but a propaganda artist who uses his pretense of being such to conceal his own disinformation operation. From this point of view, Timmerman’s modus operandi becomes apparent.
He continues, “His own website highlights his book, The 9/11 Conspiracy: The Scamming of America. A YouTube video shows Fetzer arguing that Senator Wellstone was assassinated, not killed by accident in a plane crash. After a federal judge in District Court in New York issued a finding last December that Iran shared responsibility with al Qaeda” for the 9/11 attacks, Press TV naturally turned to Fetzer for comment. Calling the ruling ‘preposterous,’ he said he knew who was responsible for the attacks: Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad. ‘Multiple investigations by independent journalists have revealed that Israel—the Mossad—played a key role in 9/11,’ Fetzer said. ‘Look up “the dancing Israelis.” Look up ‘urban moving systems.” Look up “CITS” [which should be “ICTS”] and you’ll find ample indication that Israel was profoundly involved in 9/11.” Kenneth Timmerman does not seem to care that Fetzer is right: if he were to follow the leads Fetzer provides, he would confront evidence that refutes his own position.
The Senator Wellstone Assassination
The Rise of Press TV
In his slanted history of Press TV, Timmerman makes allegations that would make an honest American reporter cringe. He writes, for example, “While Press TV made some effort in its U.S. programming to invite guests who weren’t always fans of the Iranian regime, all pretense of its propaganda aims disappeared in May 2009, just before the stolen elections that gave Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in office. That was when a group of Ahmadinejad supporters raided the petty cash desk at Press TV’s Tehran headquarters and used the money to support Ahmadinejad’s election campaign, according to Press TV insiders who subsequently left or were forced to leave the network.”
However the is abundant evidence that in fact Ahmedinaejad won the Iranian elections fair and square. As The Guardian appropriately reported at the time:
“The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin – greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.
“While western news reports from Tehran in the days leading up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad’s principal opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran’s provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead. . . The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our pre-election survey. During the campaign, for instance, Mousavi emphasised his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favoured Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Mousavi.
“Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.”
Iranian Election Discussion
But the US elections of 2000, 2002, and 2004 were veritable paradigms of stolen elections, which have been extensively documented by Brad Freedman, Bob Fitrakis, and many others. How he can say these things with a straight face is beyond us. He also alleges that “Press TV has used a number of subterfuges to skirt the U.S. sanctions on commercial transactions with Iran.” But the fact of the matter appears to be that, while Press TV has worked through production companies operating here, which in turn have hired crew, correspondents, and producers, what’s wrong with that? Unless you beg the question, as Timmerman does, by treating Press TV as a propaganda medium—a claim that he has done next to nothing to substantiate—there is no good reason not to admire how it has done its best to adapt itself to an inhospitable business environment.
Timmerman cites a list of journalists and producers who have lent a hand, which includes Former Atlantic Television News (ATN) correspondent Colin Campbell, who has questioned US officials on its behalf. But what’s wrong with that? And if ATN Productions Ltd. “has seven reporters currently registered with the Senate Press Gallery: Nicholas Ewing, Affra Khallash, Taleb Khallash, Zina Khallash, Dirik Rice, Mohamed Said Ouafi, and Firas Tuma. So the company is registered in Denmark and produces the weekly magazine show ‘American Dream,’ hosted by an American, Nisa Islam”. What’s wrong with that? Timmerman is using the kinds of techniques that were used by the Bush/Cheney administration to demonize Iraq and Saddam Hussein to demonize Iran and Press TV.
Timmerman appears to violate journalistic ethics in several ways by identifying the location at which ATN operates at “production studios located on K Street in downtown Washington, D.C.” What does he expect: an angry mob of neo-cons should converge on the building and tear it apart? Even worse, he identifies businessmen who are pursuing legitimate practices by observing that, “Press TV also contracts with American Press and TV Services (APTVS), an outfit run by Egyptian nationals Gamal Hassanein and Samir Ezeldin. Like ATN, they hire producers and camera crews to film events and conduct interviews at Press TV’s request.” By giving links to their facebook pages, this comes across as targeting individuals for political purposes, which we believe warrants an investigation of the journalistic ethics of Kenneth Timmerman. Since they are also Egyptian, it smacks of racism and discrimination. This is a form of incitement on a par with the inflammatory rhetoric of the past that led to lynching and other crimes.
That is most unlikely to come from AIM, which appears to be an obvious case of neo-con propaganda, especially where one covert source cites and compliments another. Indeed, Timmerman even acknowledges that APTVS and ATN are not even part of Press TV: “Although APTVS and ATN are not part of Press TV, they produce ‘works for hire’ for Press TV. Should OFAC decide to enforce the law, this could be construed to mean that they are engaging in unlicensed commercial transactions with Iran.” In his on-going efforts to ban Press TV, Timmerman does not acknowledge, much less dismiss, the benefits to the American public and to the world at larger of hearing the other side of the question. US citizens in the past have shown themselves all too willing to accept what their government tells them. With nuclear annihilation in the offering, Americans need to be exposed to more points of view, not less.
Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer, is McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, and has made hundreds of appearances on radio and television, including Press TV.
Joshua Blakeney is a graduate student at the University of Lethbridge, member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Staff Writer at Veterans Today, who has made a number of recent appearances on Press TV.