Anti-Muslim Creeps Smear Women’s March Organizer Linda Sarsour
Predictably and painfully, hyperpartisan political blogs seized on Sarsour’s religion in an attempt to devalue the success of the march and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment among readers. The poorly sourced attacks on Sarsour stemming from the conservative blogosphere — quintessential fearmongering common in post-9/11 right-wing news — coalesced with complete fabrications pushed by an entire network of unaccountable websites and social media pages catering more openly to an anti-Muslim audience.
Sarsour was “relentlessly trolled on Twitter since the Washington march,” but has now drawn support from thousands who fought back against this concerted anti-Muslim disinformation campaign against her. Even as the attacks on Sarsour appear to wind down, though, Google and other advertising networks are still allowing fake news purveyors to make money from their hateful fake news stories about Sarsour.
Attack: Sarsour “Met” An “Ex-Hamas Operative”
On January 21, the hyperpartisan right-wing site The Daily Caller — “an outlet for opposition research paid for by the donor class” — published a confusing report alleging that Sarsour “has family ties to terror group” Hamas and “recently met” an “ex-Hamas operative.” The outlet’s evidence for the latter claim appears to be a single photo of Sarsour posing with a group at a large-scale Muslim civics convention where she spoke. Among those pictured is a man named Salah Sarsour (no relation to Linda, as The Daily Caller even sort of acknowledges), who was identified as an alleged financier for Hamas in the 1990s, based on several statements made by his brother at the time. And that’s it. That’s the evidence.
And yes, the SMOTI is involved:
The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing blog notorious for hapless and irresponsible reporting that has pushed complete fabrications in the past, seized on this shoddy report from The Daily Caller — along with two of Sarsour’s tweets from May 2015 that joked about widespread conservative fearmongering around sharia law — to make the additional claim that “Sarsour is pro-Sharia law with ties to Hamas.”
Google Adsense and other advertising networks allow those who peddle this crap to make money from it:
Purveyors of fake news stories not only churn out increasingly unadulterated bigotry using the power of Facebook; they also harness advertising networks — like Google AdSense — to profit from it. The stories highlighted above, for example, all featured Google AdSense advertising accompanying the posts about Sarsour.