This afternoon, a bizarre Washington Times "Communities" article was deleted by the conservative-tilting newspaper after it alleged that Rep. Anthony Weiner may have converted from Judaism to Islam to marry Huma Abedin as part of a secret socialist political agenda. Got that? In effect, the screed by neoconservative Eliana Benador combines suspicion about Muslims with Weinergate allegations and an added dash of George Soros for good measure.
The paper's Communities web section exists in a gray-area between editorial articles and reader comments (just as offshoot Fox Nation seems to exist primarily to circulate the more incendiary viewpoints of Fox News). Every page bears a legend at the bottom: "Contributors are responsible for this content, which is not edited by The Washington Times." When Salon's Justin Elliott asked the Times about the article's disappearance, a spokesperson remarked that it was "under review."
Still, what was notable about the convoluted article is that Benador, as journalist Max Blumenthal wrote on his blog, "is not some [Pamela Geller]ite crank. She is the former CEO and founder of Benador Associates, an outfit that handled PR for a who’s who of the neocon movement, from Richard Perle to James Woolsey to Frank Gaffney." That doesn't mean her views are representative of neocons by any means, but it puts her in the mainstream political discussion, at least more than a random reader's contribution to the Times.
"When looking broadly at the Anthony Weiner-Huma Abedin union, we have to wonder if the coupling of a Jewish American man and a Muslim woman of her pedigree was fostered by love or by a socialist political agenda...."
"[W]e must consider that Mr. Weiner *may* have converted to Islam, because if he did not, we have to consider the unlikely, that being that Ms. Abedin has abandoned her Muslim faith, even while she still practices."
The reasoning for this assumption seems incredibly thin, which is probably why the Washington Times pulled the post after a few bloggers noticed and started ridiculing it. Jeffrey Goldberg, for one, seemed almost amused by the article, calling it "truly bonkers." Huffington Post media critic Jason Linkins wrote a blistering response that deemed the post "the 'creeping sharia' version of the Weinergate story that we've all not been waiting for."
For those who want to see the whole story, here is a screen capture from before it was taken down.