When DiscoverTheNetworks was launched in mid-February 2005, we made it
clear from the outset that we were committed to maintaining the highest
possible standard for the accuracy of the information included in our
database. The GUIDE to our website states: "If any errors have been made
in characterizing individuals or organizations, the editors of
DiscoverTheNetworks will correct these as soon as they are brought to
their attention.... [A] form is provided on the homepage of this site
for this purpose." This pledge is our commitment. It distinguishes
DiscoverTheNetworks from political attack sites posing as databases,
like Media Matters, Media Transparency, the Southern Poverty Law
Center's "Intelligence Project," and People For the American Way's
"Right Wing Watch" -- which make no attempt to correct factual
inaccuracies and mischaracterizations on their sites when these are
pointed out to them.
Following are some examples of errors that have been pointed out to
DiscoverTheNetworks (DTN), and which we have quickly and willingly
(1) During DTN’s first week, a blogger friend of Nation
editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, whose profile appears in DTN, sent vanden
Heuvel the bullet points which appeared at the head of her profile and
asked for her reaction. These were the points:
Editor and co-owner of the left-wing magazine The Nation
Limousine leftwing daughter of William J. vanden Heuvel, who worked
for the founder of the CIA and for Robert F. Kennedy, and Jean Stein,
whose father founded MCA-Universal.
Married to New York University Russian scholar and Gorbachev enthusiast Stephen F. Cohen
Fluent in Russian. Worked as reporter for state-run Moscow Times in U.S.S.R.
Through an interlocutor, vanden Heuvel objected to the statement that she is fluent in Russian and was a reporter for the Moscow Times (it was in fact the Moscow News)
and – far more importantly – pointed out that she was a reporter only
for a few weeks to cover Russia’s first democratic elections. In other
words, the bullet point (and related text) insinuated that she worked
for the press of a Communist police state, and she hadn’t. When apprised
of this mistake, we immediately removed the inaccurate point and
published our correction.
(2) When ABC’s Jake Tapper called us directly to complain about a
passage referring to him in our profile of the American Broadcasting
Company, we immediately altered it and made it accurate to his
(3) The DTN profile of an anti-Israel non-governmental
organization whose acronym is SUSTAIN, incorrectly stated that the group
had received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Lowell Weiss, the Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer for the Gates
Foundation, alerted us to the fact that while the Gates Foundation did
indeed support a group named SUSTAIN, that was not the same organization
as the aforementioned NGO; rather, it was a non-political group that
works “to enhance quality assurance in fortified food aid commodities to
improve nutrient delivery.”
Once this mistake was pointed out to us, we corrected it within five
minutes. Mr. Weiss, appreciative of our quick responsiveness, thanked us
with the following note: “Thanks very much for returning my call ...
and for swiftly removing the incorrect information on the Discover the
Network[s] website. As I mentioned, we do not provide funding to the
Sustain campaign. I suspect the confusion resulted from the fact that we
fund a different organization that also uses the name SUSTAIN. The
group we are funding helps to improve nutrition in the developing
world. Its website is www.sustaintech.org. Here are some links to announcements on our website about our support for this nutrition organization.”
We replied to Mr. Weiss as follows: “[We’re] glad you pointed out the
error to us. [We] consider it very important to keep the information in
our database as accurate as possible.” To this, Mr. Weiss replied,
“Thanks.... I really appreciate your responsiveness.”
(4) A reader informed us that Ilan Pappe was not a former
professor at Haifa University, as his DTN profile identified him, but
rather that he was still teaching there. We promptly made the
(5) Paulette Sankofa wrote to tell us that she was no longer the
director of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), a fact that her DTN
profile did not yet reflect. We quickly and cordially made the necessary
(6) Our profile of Professor James Holstun contained a paragraph
that read, in part, “To date, Holstun has made no attempt to hide his
alignment with the anti-Semitic professor’s [Norman Finkelstein’s]
views. In April of 2004, the GGMS [Graduate Group of Marxist Studies],
at Holstun’s instigation, invited Finkelstein to Buffalo to deliver a
lecture. An article by writer Chuck Richardson called Finkelstein’s talk
‘reckless,’ and characterized the speaker as ‘ruthless in his attacks,’
capable of stirring up ‘anti-Semitism whose significance he otherwise
Chuck Richardson contacted us and informed us that he had never
characterized Finkelstein’s work in this manner. He pointed out that the
quotes were in fact those of Omer Bartov, and were taken from Bartov’s
review of Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry; that is,
Bartov was commenting on a piece of Finkelstein’s writing, not his
Buffalo lecture. We verified that what Mr. Richardson said was in fact
correct, and we immediately amended the Holstun profile accordingly.
(7) Professor Peter Kirstein, who is profiled in our database, contacted us to point out some inaccuracies in his profile:
(a) Professor Kirstein’s original profile made reference to an exchange
of letters between him and an Air Force cadet; Kirstein informed us that
it was in fact an exchange of emails and not letters; we immediately made the correction.
(b) According to the original profile, the aforementioned cadet had
addressed his correspondence to the university’s Political Science
Department. Professor Kirstein informed us that the cadet had in fact
addressed it only to “Sir/Ma'am” in a mass emailing to some
50 academics. Again, we quickly corrected this detail.
(c) Professor Kirstein pointed out that in his profile, the link
for “St. Xavier University” mistakenly pointed to Xavier University in
Cincinnati, rather than to St. Xavier University in Chicago, which is
where he in fact teaches. We immediately corrected the mistake.
After these corrections were made (in mid-July 2005), Professor Kirstein
posted on his website some comments about DiscoverTheNetworks.org. His
comments included this acknowledgment: “The quotations from my
publications are selective but accurate.... I also encountered some
errors and sent them two e-mail requests for corrections. Each time they
forthrightly corrected their mistakes which reflects well on their
attempt to achieve a modicum of accuracy.” To read Professor Kirstein's
comments in their entirety, click here.
David Horowitz replied as follows:
Dear Peter Kirstein,
Much as I disagree with you on obviously important matters, I appreciate your comments about our profile of you in www.discoverthenetworks.org.
It is indeed descriptive. Unlike Ralph Luker (a mutual adversary) and
many other database sites, our intention is not to smear but to provide a
factual basis for understanding the political landscape. We will
continue to correct any factual inaccuracies that the subjects of our
profiles point out. (8) Orville Schell, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of
Journalism, informed us that we were mistaken in reporting (in his
profile) that he had been the Editor-in-Chief of Pacific News Service
(PNS) until 1996; he told us that in fact he had left PNS in 1971. We
quickly corrected the error.
(9) Professor Mark Ensalaco wrote to us about DTN's profile of
him, which incorrectly stated that he had taught a course called
"Imperialism," and that he had assigned his classes to read The Poisonwood Bible;Bananas, Beaches and Bases;Canto General; and the Edward Said Reader. We quickly corrected these errors.
(10) In August 2011, anti-Israel activist Charlotte Kates
contacted us to say that a particular sentence in her DTN profile
incorrectly stated that during her brief stint as a Church of
Scientology member, she had once "recalled a past life." Kates provided
documentation to verify her claim and asked us to remove the sentence in
question. We removed it immediately.
Future corrections can be found in this section of the DTN website.