What Radical Leftist Am I Flattering Today?

On Friday, Metro reporter Colin Moynihan covered the jailing of radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, convicted on old charges of aiding a terrorist, the blind Egyptian cleric, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.

The headline is pretty straightforward -"Radical Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Terrorist Is Jailed" - but Moynihan's text is considerably more positive toward Stewart:

Defiant to the end as she embraced emotional supporters outside the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Lynne F. Stewart, the radical lawyer known for defending unpopular clients, surrendered on Thursday evening to begin serving her 28-month sentence for assisting terrorism.

"This is the day they executed Joe Hill, and his words were, 'Don't mourn me, organize,' " Ms. Stewart said as she walked toward the courthouse, referring to the labor organizer executed on Nov. 19, 1915, after a controversial trial. "I hope that will be the message that I send, too."

After a lengthy trial, a jury in 2005 convicted Ms. Stewart, now 70, of providing material aid to terrorism and of lying to the government while helping an imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, communicate with his followers in Egypt.

The sheik, a blind fundamentalist cleric, was serving a life sentence after his 1995 conviction for organizing a thwarted plot to blow up landmarks in New York. Ms. Stewart assisted him by communicating a statement from him to a reporter in Cairo, which allowed his followers to learn of it.


Ms. Stewart surrendered to United States marshals at the courthouse. Prosecutors said that it had not been determined where she would be sent. In sentencing Ms. Stewart, Judge Koeltl wrote that she had engaged in "extraordinarily severe" criminal conduct. But he also acknowledged her long record of representing the disadvantaged, the destitute and the despised.

Indeed, over the years, Ms. Stewart often took on cases nobody else wanted. She won an acquittal for Larry Davis, who had been accused of wounding six police officers in a 1986 shootout in the Bronx, and represented David J. Gilbert, a member of the Weather Underground convicted in the 1981 robbery of a Brink's armored car in Rockland County. Other clients, however, were merely poor and obscure, and Ms. Stewart was a passionate advocate for them.

Moynihan concluded with an image of supporters chanting "Free Lynne Stewart."

Stewart isn't even the first radical leftist Moynihan has profiled in flattering terms. Back in October 2008, days before the presidential election, Obama friend and Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers visited the Chelsea neighborhood of New York to talk about education. Moynihan portrayed the domestic terrorist as a mild-mannered liberal in the misleadingly headlined "Ex-Radical Talks of Education and Justice, Not Obama." Moynihan wrote:

While describing his views on education and social justice, Mr. Ayers hardly resembled the unrepentant terrorist that his critics have sought to paint him as while attacking the Obama campaign.