Michael Fechter quits Tampa Tribune-works for Steven Emerson

05/07/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

Tampa Tribune reporter Michael Fechter, whose reporting led to the decade long federal investigation of Sami Al-Arian,  has left the Tribune, and will soon go to work for one of his closest sources on that story, Terrorism profiler Steven Emerson.


Although the move marks an end to his reporting career at the Tribune, it will not quiet critics of his journalism on the Al-Arian case.


Fechter, was the first newspaper reporter to expose Al-Arian, then a professor at USF, with a link to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Middle East terrorist group.

According to the Tribune, Fechter said his early reporting Al-Arian was inspired by  Emerson’s 1994 PBS documentary “Jihad in America,” which initially linked Al-Arian to Islamic Jihad.

The Tribune has recently made news by cutting jobs in recent weeks.  WMNF asked Fechter this afternoon if job security played any part in his leaving the paper

(roll tape#1 o.q.”really don’t change those facts”)

Michael Fechter gave his 2 week notice today, but was told to leave by the end of the day.  Tribune Executive Editor Janet Coats  (roll tape#2 o.q.”go yours”)

Ahmed Bedier is  the Florida Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, and a programmer on WMNF.  He says Fechter’s job switch is a blow to the integrity of the Tampa Tribune (roll tape#3 o.q.”situation”)

Last year it was revealed that  Fechter had became romantically involved with a Federal prosecutor in the Al-Arian case,  Cherie Krigsman.  WMNF asked Tampa Tribune Executive Editor Janet Coats if that event, along with the announcement he is leaving the paper to work with a close – and controversial –source, taints his work. She said no

(roll tape#4 o.q.”   newsrooms work”)

John Sugg is an editor and columnist with Creative Loafing in Atlanta, and a long time critic of the Tribune and Michael Fecter’s reporting on the Al-Arian case.   He had plenty to say about todays announcement about Fechter leaving to work with Steven Emerson. WMNF asked him if the 2003 Federal indictment of Sami Al-Arian justified the work Fechter and the Tribune had done on the US F professor (…Wroll tape#5 o.q.”would have done”)


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