Type of site
MintPress News was founded by Mnar Muhawesh, a broadcast journalism graduate of St. Cloud State University. She 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' anonymous initial investors would fund MintPress operations until 2015. However, in 2013 in an email to BuzzFeed, Muhawesh said she restructured the business plan and was now the sole investor financing MintPress: "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."
Coverage of the Ghouta chemical attacks
On August 29, 2013, a MintPress article attributed to Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh said that Syrian rebels and local residents in Ghouta, Syria alleged that the Al-Nusra Front was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on August 21. The allegation was based on interviews conducted in Syria. The article's sources claimed that weapons had been delivered to untrained fighters and "some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions." The article was widely circulated and cited by other news outlets, such as Military.com, the Voice of Russia, Press TV, the Spanish newspaper ABC, and ConsortiumNews.com.
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." 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.
Claims and counter-claims of pro-Assad coverage
In October 2015, the Star Tribune published a citizen op-ed by Terry Burke in which she accused MintPress, among other alternative Internet news sites, of pro-Assad coverage which includes polls in Assad support, articles about rebels and ISIL abuses in addition to blaming US for the civil war in Syria. In November that year, Mnar Muhawesh replied saying funding came from donations, sponsorships, grants and ad revenue and that the site is open to whomever is behind it including staff, correspondents and syndication partners. She explained being against U.S. intervention in foreign wars does not mean one is pro-dictator. She adds "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?" Later, Brian Lambert of MinnPost wrote a blog stating that MintPress lists 20 of its writers, which he labeled as 'far-flung activist bloggers,' and a mission statement. He further claimed that MintPress does not disclose information of its funding despite the fact that MintPress regularly conducts fund raising campaigns.
"Anti-ISIS" 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 as the article was misleading. BuzzFeed 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 noted the article was sourced from American Herald Tribune, a website edited by Canadian professor Anthony Hall, a 9/11 and Sandy Hook shooting conspiracy theorist who had been suspended from his job at a university on charges of antisemitism. MintPress stood by its story.
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Accusations of Antisemitism
MintPress News employs Carlos Latuff, whose cartoons have been labeled antisemitic by several organizations. In 2006, Latuff's work placed second in the Iranian International Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Additionally, on October 31, 2017, MintPress News's Facebook page posted a cartoon by Latuff with an antisemitic caption alleging that "A hidden ingredient of Trader Joe's new made-in-Israel "Bamba" is the blood of Christian & Muslim civilians of Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria, slaughtered by Israel." MintPress edited their post to remove the caption on September 5th, 2018. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has identified the cartoon and its caption as an example of blood libel, which is an historical expression of antisemitism that accused Jews of murdering Christians to use their blood in religious rituals.
MintPress News has also been linked with hate sites such as The American Herald Tribune and If Americans Knew. In 2016, CAMERA alerted Yahoo of this affiliation, prompting Yahoo to remove MintPress News from its news feed, with a Yahoo spokesperson saying, "MintPressNews does not uphold the editorial standards of Yahoo and was immediately blocked on January 21."
- Binkovitz, Leah (March 28, 2012). "Mint Press News". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- Jordan, Bryant (September 10, 2013). "White House Mum on Rebel Chem Weapons Use". Military.com. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- McKeone Peterson, Liz (November 2012). "Maple Grove Young Entrepreneurs". Maple Grove Magazine. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- Brauer, David (January 18, 2012). "Who is MintPress and why are they doing all this hiring?". MinnPost. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- Gray, Rosie; Testa, Jessica (October 1, 2013). "The Inside Story of One Website's Defense of Assad". BuzzFeed. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- Gavlak, Dale; Abadneh, Yahya (August 29, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack". MintPress News. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- "'Syrian rebels take responsibility for the chemical attack admitting the weapons were provided by Saudis' - source". Voice of Russia. August 30, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- Pease, Lisa (September 4, 2013). "The Still-Sketchy Intel on Syria". Consortiumnews.com. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- "Saudi Prince Bandar behind chemical attack in Syria: Report". PressTV. September 1, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- F. De Andres (September 2, 2013). "Una colaboradora de AP afirma que el ataque en Damasco fue obra de los rebeldes". ABC. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- "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 June 26, 2015.
- Mackey, Robert (September 21, 2013). "Reporter Denies Writing Article That Linked Syrian Rebels to Chemical Attack". New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- Prothero, Mitchell (September 22, 2013). "Reporter says story on Minnesota website linking Syrian rebels to chemical weapons wasn't hers". StarTribune. McClatchy. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
- Muhawesh, Mnar (September 21, 2013). "Official Statement On Dale Gavlak's Involvement In Syria Exclusive". MintPress News. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
- Winfield, Gwyn (February 2014). "Modern Warfare" (PDF). CBRN World. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- "Media beyond the mainstream: Syria's information wars". Star Tribune. October 27, 2015.
- "Counterpoint: Don't bash watchdogs in Syria's 'information war'". StarTribune. November 8, 2015.
- Lambert, Brian (November 11, 2015). "The mystery of MintPress News". MinnPost.
- "Facebook Trending Promoted A Misleading Story About A Muslim Pilgrimage". BuzzFeed. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- Muhawesh, Mnar (2016-12-23). "Islam, ISIS & Buzzfeed: What You're Not Being Told". MintPress News. Retrieved 2017-03-14.