Innocence of Muslims filmmaker finally sentenced

Of the many curious coverage decisions the mainstream media made this year, I thought the relative lack of interest in the plight of Mark Bassely Youssef, who made “Innocence of Muslims,” was noteworthy. There’s no question the dude is shady and broke the law in matters unrelated to the YouTube phenomenon. But the Obama administration’s focus on him, the physical threats issued against him, and his incarceration over the last few months also merited some serious discussions about free speech as its practiced in the United States.

But the media could not really have been much less interested in him.

The Associated Press does give us a follow-up this week about the situation. It begins:

The California man behind an anti-Muslim film that led to violence in many parts of the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter, then issued a provocative statement through his attorney.

What’s the provocative statement?

Shortly after Youssef left the courtroom, his lawyer, Steven Seiden, came to the front steps of the courthouse and told reporters his client wanted to send a message.

“The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn’t kill the ideology,” Seiden said.

Asked what that meant, Seiden said, “I didn’t ask him, and I don’t know.”

Is that statement either provocative or unclear? It seems kind of obvious and clear as day to me. I was trying to figure out if the writer was just trying to play it straight, because it’s clear that there are all sorts of hints at what Youssef was getting at. We’re told that the U.S. attorney said the case had nothing to do with the film but that had he been truthful with people associated with the film, they may not have done the film:

He said they have had death threats and feel their careers have been ruined.

Even the worst Hollywood films don’t usually result in death threats. Is there a ghost there?

Or what about this?

Youssef, 55, was arrested in late September, just weeks after he went into hiding when the deadly violence erupted.

Enraged Muslims had demanded severe punishment for Youssef, with a Pakistani cabinet minister even offering $100,000 to anyone who kills him.

Hmm. Is there anything ideological or religious that could be unpacked here?

The piece goes into detail about the stiff sentencing the con man received. I’d love to see how this news is reported around the world.

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  • sari

    One thing’s clear: his sentence is light compared to the magnitude of the crime and his flagrant disregard for the terms of his probation. No one can argue that his free speech was abridged. No one.

    Yes, the reporter should have asked who made the the death threats, but, given modern communication’s ease of anonymity, the who is often difficult to ascertain. While many may assume death threats originated with disgruntled Muslims, they may just as well come from other sources, pranks designed to capitalize on anti-Muslim sentiment.

    Did anyone notice that his lawyer name is Jewish? A real shanda.

  • Mollie – “Even the worst Hollywood films don’t usually result in death threats.”

    The report states “He said they have had death threats…” (Emphasis added.)

    I mean, atheists or artists report ‘death threats’, people on this site immediately demand confirmation that ‘death threats’ actually happened. How come there’s no similar skepticism in this case?

    • mollie

      Well, I completely agree. Why aren’t reporters looking into these serious claims? That would have made a great story any time in the last two months or so and it still makes a great story. The idea that people who participate in an American film are claiming they got death threats for it is huge. Look into those claims. Is there anything to them? Is there not? Report it!

  • dalea

    The story here has been on teevee news quite a lot. Unfortunately, it has been treated as part of entertainment news. The gist of it seems to be the actors in the film are up in arms over the way their roles were altered. It appears there is arbitration on the matter as a prelude to lawsuits. In any event, the actors are saysing (paraphrase): Youssef has every right to say what he said; he does not have the right to take their images and dub in his statements to make it appear that they are saying them. The press seems to be treating the matter as an internal industry issue; one that effects what can be done with living actors’ work. This is a major matter for the film industry which has both commercial side effects and free speech issues. Interesting how the issue has migrated to technical points of artists’ representation, which has free speech aspects but not the obvious ones Mollie points to.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Throughout American History presidential second terms have habitually been non-productive or disasters. It seems that the media that has been Obama’s protection blanket is going to keep protecting him in his second term–even to going after free speech on his behalf (instead of going full tilt to protect freedom of the press and speech..
    So often people say: “How can you say that??” Well remember the media’s going bezerk to get Bush military and education records, McCain records, Clinton passport records, Kerry war records, etc.( For awhile it was a virtual cottage industry going over and comparing Bush-Kerry education records) And of course there was the full court press to get Romney tax records..
    But Obama is STILL a phantom as far as released educational records are concerned and as far as passport records are concerned. And the media goes “Ho-Hum!”
    Now we have the odd spectacle of the head of the CIA suddenly getting out of town over a sexcapade. (Still being called a moral paragon by most reporters on TV today). Any Libya connection??? Any Benghazi connection?? (” Move along! Nothing to see here” yaps most of the media.)
    Fox has been panned by the rest of the MSM for not ignoring the swirling Benghazi mess as they have ignored it. But maybe now the rest of the media will be forced to do a little more reporting on that situation. Fox has certainly been proved right for keeping its eye on Libya and BenGhazi (even some Democrats are now–after the election-claiming the mess needs deep scrutiny.) Petraus played it in the best way to help Obama in the election. Of course, the media will claim coincidence that Petraus resigned only two days after the election. I wonder who in the Obama Admin., wanting to get rid of Petraus, did a little blackmail to get him to quit??. Curioser and Curioser as one of Alice’s characters said.

  • Becky

    President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn’t kill the ideology

    This can be read two ways,
    1. Mark Bassely Youssef is bravely trying to educate people about the historical Muhammed in order to kill the ideology, or
    2. Obama, Obama, we are all Osama.

  • John M.


    I’ll admit that, being goy, I don’t know the subtleties of the word “shanda”, but as best I understand, it means shame or embarrassment. What exactly was shameful about a lawyer representing his client’s interests?


  • sari

    John M.,
    Mark Bassely Youssef tried to place blame for the movie on Jews rather than admit his involvement. In fact, the financing and implementation were done entirely by Christians, including him. That a Jew (assuming he is a Jew) would willingly represent someone whose goal was to defame the Jewish people is a shanda. Seiden could just as easily refused to represent Youssef; lawyers do it all the time.

    • mollie

      Guys, what does this have to do with media coverage?