Tides of inaccuracy

By Geraldine Sealey
Published March 12, 2004 8:21PM (EST)

Rush Limbaugh, like the RNC, Wall Street Journal and New York Post, has taken to attacking family members of 9/11 victims for criticizing President Bush for using 9/11 images in his campaign ads. In a radio program this week, Limbaugh said the families were being funded by Teresa Heinz Kerry and berated two family members after playing audio clips of them criticizing Bush: "These people are poisoned. They have literally been poisoned by their hate. They have been poisoned by their rage. It is unbelievable, the depths to which they will sink," Limbaugh said, without identifying the two women.

In an op-ed, Allan P. Duncan does a good job of exposing the conservative conspiracy theory about the 9/11 families. First, Duncan says, the two women Rush attacked but didn't identify were Kristen Breitweiser and Monica Gabrielle, "both members of the Family Steering Committee for the 9-11 Commission, and not members of the group Limbaugh claims received funding from Teresa Heinz Kerry. That group, according to news reports that began hitting the wires on March 6th was September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows."

And, it appears Limbaugh and other conservative critics aren't even right about the supposed ties between Peaceful Tomorrows and Heinz Kerry. Duncan excerpts a statement from the 9/11 group that says: "September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows has never received funding from the Howard Heinz Endowment, the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, Teresa Heinz Kerry or John Kerry. Peaceful Tomorrows has no connection with the Heinz or Kerry families through Tides Foundation, the Tides Center or any other entity. Peaceful Tomorrows has been a not-for-profit project of the Tides Center since July of 2002. As our fiscal sponsor, the Tides Center provides administrative and financial services that allow the staff and membership of Peaceful Tomorrows to focus on work related to our mission. We raise money for our own work and we pay Tides Center 9 percent of those funds in exchange for vital services such as invoice payment, tax services, and insurance."

(And, to add to Duncan's argument, here's a link to a response from the Tides Foundation after inaccuracies about its connection to Heinz Kerry and Peaceful Tomorrows were repeated in the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. This is classic: "Tides Foundation, which has made four grants to Peaceful Tomorrows in 2002 and 2003 for a combined total of $34,665, has not received 'millions of dollars controlled by Teresa Heinz Kerry.' The Heinz Endowments have granted Tides Foundation a total of $230,000 dispensed between 1994 and 1998. These grants were to support a pollution prevention initiative and other environmentally friendly practices by industries in Western Pennsylvania.")

Duncan says: "So, it appears as though the above articles and Rush Limbaugh's statements on his show were wrong all along. Not only were Kristen Breitweiser and Monica Gabrielle slandered on the air, but September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows was also libeled in the press. So much for objective reporting and vetting facts."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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