Turns out (surprise!) that the furor is trumped up and almost completely phony, a product of right-wing blowhards and political opportunists—and Fox News, naturally.
Rich's column, which appears in today's paper, traces the history of this non-story, especially its roots in the Rupert Murdoch empire. As Rich makes plain, there's much less controversy here that the wingbags would have us believe.
Indeed, it's not too much to say that nearly everything pushed by Fox News and its ideological allies is either flat-out wrong or exaggerated beyond recognition. Read the full column here.
In the meantime, savor this bit of Rich insight:
At the Islamophobia command center, Murdoch’s News Corporation, the hypocrisy is, if anything, thicker. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial darkly cited unspecified “reports” that Park51 has “money coming from Saudi charities or Gulf princes that also fund Wahabi madrassas.” As Jon Stewart observed, this brand of innuendo could also be applied to News Corp., whose second largest shareholder after the Murdoch family is a member of the Saudi royal family. Perhaps last week’s revelation that News Corp. has poured $1 million into G.O.P. campaign coffers was a fiendishly clever smokescreen to deflect anyone from following the far greater sum of Saudi money (a $3 billion stake) that has flowed into Murdoch enterprises, or the News Corp. money (at least $70 million) recently invested in a Saudi media company.