The Sunday, Sept. 14, edition of The Denver Post was among dozens of newspapers nationwide that included a copy of the DVD “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” as a paid advertising supplement, drawing complaints in a Post article yesterday that called the documentary “anti-Muslim hate speech” and “hateful information on Islam.” The Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina had refused to carry the DVD at all, saying it was “divisive and plays on people’s fears and served no educational purpose.” Editor & Publisher cynically observed that the newspaper buys were in swing states, and questioned the New York Times about its policy on such inserts: “We believe the broad principles of freedom of the press confer on us an obligation to keep our advertising columns as open as possible. Therefore our acceptance or rejection of an advertisement does not depend on whether it coincides with our editorial positions,” replied the NYT. The advertising buy, by the way, coincided with the film’s Sept. 11 wide release in major retailers.
This story piqued my interest because, for one, I was at the premiere of director and writer Wayne Kopping’s “Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in Israel” in L.A. four years ago, and found it to be a powerful documentary. (I’d known that Yasser Arafat was a rascally lil’ scoundrel, but never realized he talked out of both sides of his mouth THAT much.) I’d received a DVD of “Obsession” months ago, tucked inside a copy of a promo book on Israel, and today I finally sat down with my lunch (yeah, parts of the film were a little too gory to do that) and watched a copy.