Type of site
MintPress News is a news website founded and edited by Mnar Muhawesh which was launched in January 2012. It covers political, economic, foreign affairs and environmental issues.
Type of site
MintPress News was founded by Mnar Muhawesh, a broadcast journalism graduate of St. Cloud State University. Muhawesh 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." BuzzFeed News in 2013 described the site as having "an agenda that lines up, from its sympathy with the Syrian regime to its hostility to Sunni Saudi Arabia, with that of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
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's anonymous investors were originally intended to fund MintPress operations until 2015. However, in a 2013 email to BuzzFeed, Muhawesh said she restructured the business plan: "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." She added: "I am the sole investor of MintPress."
Coverage of the Ghouta chemical attacks
On August 29, 2013, an unverified MintPress article attributed to Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh said that Syrian rebels and local residents in Ghouta, Syria alleged that rebels were responsible for the chemical weapons attack on August 21.
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." Gavlak also said the report had not been verified. 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.
When asked about the MintPress News story, Åke Sellström, the chief U.N. weapons inspector in Syria remarked, "They are famous for 1001 Arabian Nights stories!"
Pro-Assad coverage claims
In October 2015, the Minnesota Star Tribune published a citizen op-ed by Terry Burke in which she accused MintPress, and other alternative Internet news sites, of pro-Assad coverage, including polls claiming majority support for Assad, interviews with the Syrian leader, articles about rebels and ISIL abuses in addition to blaming the U.S. for the civil war in Syria. Mnar Muhawesh, in her reply, asserted that being against U.S. intervention in foreign wars does not mean one is pro-dictator. She added, "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?" Responding to a query from Burke about the site's funding Muhawesh indicated it came from donations, sponsorships, grants and ad revenue.
Soon afterwards, Brian Lambert of MinnPost wrote a blog post stating that MintPress listed 20 of its writers, whom he labeled as "far-flung activist bloggers", and a mission statement. He also said that MintPress did not disclose information concerning its funding despite the fact that MintPress regularly conducted fund-raising campaigns. It did, he wrote, "concede" that "Bashar al-Assad is a thug".
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 that the article was misleading. BuzzFeed News 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 News said the article had been sourced from American Herald Tribune, a website edited by Anthony Hall, a conspiracy theorist on issues relating to the 9/11 attacks and Sandy Hook shooting who had been suspended from his job as a professor at an Alberta university on charges of antisemitism. MintPress stood by its story.