Type of site
MintPress News is a left-leaning American online news website founded and edited by Mnar Muhawesh which was launched in January 2012. It covers political, economic, foreign affairs and environmental issues.
MintPress News was founded by Mnar Muhawesh, a broadcast journalism graduate of St. Cloud State University. Muhawesh began her career as an intern at Minnesota television station KARE and as a freelance journalist. After posting her own work on a blog, in 2011 she decided to launch her own news site. Muhawesh said she believed "our media has failed us very miserably," and spoke of her aspirations for MintPress, citing uninformed public debates around issues like Iran's nuclear capabilities, or intervention in Syria. "We are in a crucial time in American history where most Americans don't know what's going on in the world around them."
MintPress News said it was a for-profit "regular news organization," with an initial business plan where advertising revenues would exceed costs after three years. MintPress's anonymous investors were originally intended to fund MintPress operations until 2015. The editor had investors, “retired businesspeople”, but she would not name them, a situation the MinnPost said was "unfortunate for a journalism operation fighting alongside people seeking transparency. The site's "About Us" page is similarly skinny."  In a 2013 email to BuzzFeed, Muhawesh said she restructured the business plan: "MintPress was originally funded by angel investors when I was first putting the company together over a year ago, but that route fell through last year as I restructured the business plan." She added: "I am the sole investor of MintPress."
Coverage of the Ghouta chemical attacks
On August 29, 2013, an unverified MintPress article attributed to Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh said that Syrian rebels and local residents in Ghouta, Syria alleged that rebels were responsible for the chemical weapons attack on August 21. The story alleged that Saudi Arabia had supplied the rebels with chemical weapons, which the rebels then accidentally set off; Foreign Policy magazine described it as one of the craziest conspiracy attacks about chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
On September 20, the Brown Moses Blog published a statement from Gavlak saying that "despite my repeated requests, made directly and through legal counsel, they have not been willing to issue a retraction stating that I was not the author. Yahya Ababneh is the sole reporter and author of the Mint Press News piece." Gavlak also said the report had not been verified. The dispute was also covered by The New York Times' news blog The Lede and McClatchy.
MintPress added an editor's note at the top of the article stating Ababneh was the sole reporter on the ground in Syria, while Gavlak assisted in researching and writing the article. It said that Gavlak was a MintPress News correspondent who had freelanced for the Associated Press in Jordan for a decade. A note at the bottom of the story says: "Some information in this article could not be independently verified. Mint Press News will continue to provide further information and updates." On September 21, 2013, MintPress published a statement by Muhawesh saying soon after the article was published, Gavlak retracted her involvement due to pressure from third parties, which Gavlak believed was prompted by Prince Bandar. The statement also claimed that Abadneh was being threatened by Saudi officials.
Pro-Assad coverage claims
In October 2015, the Minnesota Star Tribune published a citizen op-ed by Terry Burke, an activist for Minnesota Committee in Solidarity with the Syrian People, in which she accused MintPress News and other "alternative ‘news’ organizations" of "never publish[ing] the international human rights organizations’ reports about the regime’s crimes. Instead, they post interviews with Assad, polls that claim most Syrians support him, articles on rebel or ISIL abuses, and stories that blame the U.S. for Syria’s uprising."
Mnar Muhawesh, in her reply, stated that her funding comes from "from donations, sponsorships, grants and ad revenue," and that MintPress was opposed to U.S. intervention in foreign wars, claiming "President Obama is President Bush on steroids. Why then, do people in the progressive community suddenly support 'spreading democracy' when it is a Democrat carrying out Republican policies?"
Soon afterwards, Brian Lambert of MinnPost wrote a blog post following up on Burke's challenge to find out where MintPress's money came from. He reported that emails to them went unanswered, their phone was disconnected, and the original office address in Plymouth MN "haven’t been valid in well over a year". While MintPress listed 20 of its writers, Lambert complained it did not indicate where the money was "coming from to pay any of these people".
In 2019, the Bellingcat website reported MintPress News was a recipient of the Serena Shim Award, financed by a pro-Assad lobby group, consisting of an undisclosed amount of money. BuzzFeed News in 2013 described the site as having "an agenda that lines up, from its sympathy with the Syrian regime to its hostility to Sunni Saudi Arabia, with that of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Arbaeen pilgrimage claim
In November 2016, a MintPress News article entitled "Media Blackout As Millions Of Muslims March Against ISIS In Iraq" became a top trending story on Facebook, which prompted criticism that the article was misleading. BuzzFeed News countered, "This week has seen millions of Shiite Muslims participate in Arbaeen, one of the world's largest pilgrimages, in Iraq. But they are not specifically marching against ISIL, nor has there been a 'media blackout.'" BuzzFeed News said the article had been sourced from American Herald Tribune, a website edited by Anthony Hall, a 9/11 and Sandy Hook shooting conspiracy theorist suspended from his job as a professor at an Alberta university on charges of antisemitism. Snopes described the claims in the MintPress article as inaccurate: "The pilgrimage was not a massive protest against ISIS, nor did a "media blackout" prevent news agencies from covering the event." MintPress stood by its story.
Frequent contributors and partners
MNP frequently partners with the outlets Project Censored, Free Speech TV, Media Roots Radio, ShadowProof, The Grayzone, Truthout, CommonDreams, and Antiwar.com Antiwar.com apologised for its role in spreading the MintPress story that the citizens of Ghouta and Syrian rebels were responsible for the Ghouta sarin attacks of 2013.
- Lambert, Brian (November 11, 2015). "The mystery of MintPress News". MinnPost. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- Binkovitz, Leah (March 28, 2012). "Mint Press News". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- Brauer, David (January 18, 2012). "Who is MintPress and why are they doing all this hiring?". MinnPost. Minneapolis, MN. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- McKeone Peterson, Liz (November 2012). "Maple Grove Young Entrepreneurs". Maple Grove Magazine. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- MinnPost, 18 January 2012, Who is MintPress and why are they doing all this hiring?
- Gray, Rosie; Testa, Jessica (October 1, 2013). "The Inside Story of One Website's Defense of Assad". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
- Silverman, Craig (November 24, 2016). "Facebook Trending Promoted A Misleading Story About A Muslim Pilgrimage". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
- Groll, Elias (September 4, 2013). "These Are the 5 Craziest Conspiracy Theories About Syria's Chemical Attacks". Foreign Policy. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
- Mackey, Robert (September 21, 2013). "Reporter Denies Writing Article That Linked Syrian Rebels to Chemical Attack". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "Statement By Dale Gavlak On The Mint Press Article 'Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack'". Brown Moses Blog. September 20, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- Lambert, Brian (November 11, 2015). "The mystery of MintPress News". MinnPost. Minneapolis, MN. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- Tevlin, Jon (October 1, 2013). "Tevlin: If Syria story is true, why is Minnesota news site hiding?". StarTribune. Minnesota. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- Prothero, Mitchell (September 22, 2013). "Reporter says story on Minnesota website linking Syrian rebels to chemical weapons wasn't hers". StarTribune. Minnesota. McClatchy. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
- Gavlak, Dale; Abadneh, Yahya (August 29, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack". MintPress News. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- Muhawesh, Mnar (September 21, 2013). "Official Statement On Dale Gavlak's Involvement In Syria Exclusive". MintPress News. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- Winfield, Gwyn (February 2014). "Modern Warfare" (PDF). CBRNe World. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- "Media beyond the mainstream: Syria's information wars". Star Tribune. Minnesota. October 27, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
- Muhawesh, Mnar (November 8, 2015). "Counterpoint: Don't bash watchdogs in Syria's 'information war'". StarTribune. Minnesota. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
- Davis, Charles (September 30, 2019). "Pro-Assad Lobby Group Rewards Bloggers On Both The Left And The Right". bellingcat. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
- Evon, Dan (November 29, 2016). "FACT CHECK: Millions of Muslims March Against the Islamic State". Snopes.com. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- Muhawesh, Mnar (December 23, 2016). "Islam, ISIS & Buzzfeed: What You're Not Being Told". MintPress News. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "MintPress News Staff". MintPress News. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
- Garris, Eric (September 20, 2013). "Retraction and Apology to Our Readers for Mint Press Article on Syria Gas Attack". AntiWar.com. Retrieved December 27, 2019.