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Pastor Hagee's Media Supression Scandal Threatens To Splash Embattled Lieberman

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Early in July, producers of 120+ videos were informed, as reported by Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, that their videos had been removed from the YouTube website for alleged copyright infringement, for containing John Hagee sermon video footage. With the immanent kickoff of Pastor John Hagee's 2008 Christians United For Israel summit, at which Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman is due to deliver a July 22nd capstone speech, the prevailing assumption is that Pastor Hagee and his ministry launched preemptive attacks against YouTube videos critical of his ministry in order to temporarily repress the critical reports during mainstream media coverage of CUFI 2008 expected to ensue in little more than a week.

But, Hagee's media suppression bid appears to be backfiring. Will the growing scandal splash on the already embattled Senator Joseph Lieberman, currently scheduled to speak on July 22nd at Hagee's CUFI 2008 Washington DC conference ? How close can Senator Lieberman sidle up to Hagee, who seems to be claiming, under his 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, copyright protection for a Hagee sermon, broadcast around the world, in which Pastor John Hagee proposed that a "satanic" Jewish banking cabal plots to attack American patriotism and wreck the US economy by devaluing the dollar ? How long can Lieberman continue to stand by his comparison of John Hagee, to "Moses" ? [below: 10 minute documentary compares Pastor John Hagee's very own version, circa March 2003, of "The Protocols" with the Nazi version, as detailed in the infamous Joseph Goebbels-supervised Nazi propaganda film "The Eternal Jew"]

Pastor Hagee's strong-arm media tactics seem to be wildly backfiring, in a growing PR disaster for Hagee, especially for the fact that JHM's claims to copyright for Hagee's sermons appear to extend to a claim that Hagee's worldwide dissemination of a close variant of the Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Zion anti-Jewish conspiracy theory represents a valid 501(c)(3) educational enterprise worthy of strict copyright protection. This latest recrudescence of the apparently rolling scandal Hagee generates almost reflexively comes just as Lieberman's appearance at Hagee's CUFI 2008 appearance draws close and just as a coalition of progress activists has delivered a 43,000-plus signature petition, to the US Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, calling on the Committee to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship and rank in the caucus.

[Note: Fortunately for Lieberman, Hagee and his ministry has had the wisdom to pull three allegedly fraudulent "ex-terrorists," scheduled for a panel immediately prior to Lieberman's planned appearance, from the CUFI 2008 schedule.]

One of the suppressed YouTube videos at the center of the Hagee media suppression scandal, as it happens, was Max Blumenthal's and Thomas Shomaker's "Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christian United For Israel 2007 Tour," which the two shot at CUFI 2007 and co-produced. Thus, Blumenthal and Shomaker had exclusive copyright to their video and the John Hagee Ministries claim, filed with YouTube against the documentary, verges towards, if not over the line into, outright fraud, a legal reality which Blumenthal has apparently used to pry, from one of JHM's lawyers, details of the John Hagee Ministries conspiracy to suppress critical media coverage in advance of CUFI 2008. [below, two videos suppressed by John Hagee & JHM MInistries: "Rapture Ready," by Max Blumenthal and Thomas Shomaker, seen by upwards of 300,000 viewers (but perhaps many more than that) and a variant of the "God Sent Hitler" video, broadcast widely in the US and internationally, that led to John McCain's renunciation of Pastor John Hagee's political endorsement. Original Bruce Wilson versions were suppressed by Hagee/JHM but a copy, posted by The Young Turks remians up on YouTube's website]

[below: the Young Turks' re-post of the "God Sent Hitler" video, still up on YouTube]

This new Hagee scandal comes as Pastor John Hagee is coming under greater scrutiny from Jewish groups and Senator Joseph Lieberman is coming under increasing fire, both for his absurdly hyperbolic claims of an "existential" threat from Iran against both Israel and The United States and for his tenuous commitment to the Democratic Party. This Wednesday at 11 AM, as noted on the New York Times political blog, a group calling itself lieberman must go "plan to deliver a petition with about 43,100 signatures to the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, telling the leadership to strip him of his committee chairmanship and rank in the caucus." There is some evidence, on the Hagee/CUFI side of the equation, that media scrutiny, at least on Lieberman's association with dubious and controversial elements associated with the Christian right, is starting to pay off. As noted by academic and blogger Richard Bartholomew, a CUFI 2008 panel that was scheduled for the time slot immediately preceding Joseph Lieberman's currently scheduled CUFI 2008 address and which was to feature three alleged "ex-Islamic terrorists" whose alleged terrorist backgrounds have been widely challenged as fraudulent, by terrorism experts and even by their own relatives, appears to have been dropped from the CUFI 2008 events schedule.

Because the use of video and audio footage from Pastor John Hagee has been crucial, notes Max Blumenthal, in convincing mainstream media, which had long ignored alternative media journalistic coverage of Pastor Hagee's ideological extremity and agitation for apocalyptic war, to finally give Hagee's growing mainstream presence some belated coverage. As late as March 2007 when Hagee was invited to give a keynote address at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual Washington DC conference, routinely attended by a large proportion of the US Congress, critical coverage of the apocalyptic, often anti-Muslim and at times viciously anti-Jewish nature of Pastor John Hagee's sermons was something AIPAC and mainstream media seemed willing to ignore despite the fact that Hagee's sermons, which have included versions of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories remarkably similar to the Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion even to the extent of mirroring the claim, put out by an early "Protocols" publicist, the Russian Orthodox priest Sergei Nilus, that the anti-Christ will be Jewish, routinely go out on broadcast networks that reach upwards of 100 million households around the globe.

Regardless of its technical legal merits, the claim of John Hagee Ministries, to copyright protection for Hagee's internationally telecast church sermons that often feature content wholly unrelated to Biblical scripture, amounts to a claim, by JHM, that its broadcasts of Hagee's anti-Jewish rhetoric and even Hagee's proposal of a version of the anti-Jewish "Protocols" myth, should enjoy copyright protection as a legitimate 501(c)(3) educational enterprise. Such a claim would seem to raise the question then, what could JHM Ministries educational mission conceivably be ? Does JHM's 501(c)(3) educational mission statement include a mandate to promote anti-Jewish conspiracy theories ? [below: 10 minute documentary explores Senator Joe Lieberman's comparison of Pastor John Hagee to Moses]

Related: "Hagee's Revenge? Videos of Controversial Pastor Removed From YouTube" -- Sam Stein