NBC has announced that it has named the developer of the controversial Islamic prayer center near Ground Zero, Sharif el-Gamal, one of the network’s “People of the Year.” El-Gamal will sit down for an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer on Thanksgiving night.
The prayer center, known as Park51, has sparked outrage and massive protests from people who say that building a mosque so close to the site of the World Trade Center attacks is disrespectful to 9/11 victims and their families.
NBC’s previous coverage of Park51 has sometimes come off as insensitive to the people who object to the prayer center’s construction. Last August, NBC anchor Mika Brzezinski referred to Park51 opponents as people “who don’t care about the Constitution.”
In the new issue of Vanity Fair, legendary singer Cher dished about her feelings on Sarah Palin and Arizona governor Jan Brewer. And – surprise! – she’s not a fan of either.
“I got so obsessed with [C-SPAN] that it was kind of interfering with my life,” Cher told the magazine. “Sarah Palin came on, and I thought, Oh, f---, this is the end. Because a dumb woman is a dumb woman.”
The “I Got Your Babe” singer was even harsher on Brewer, who spearheaded the recent immigration crackdown in Arizona.
“She was worse than Sarah Palin, if that is possible,” said Cher. “This woman was like a deer in headlights. She’s got a handle on the services of the state, and I would not let her handle the remote control.”
According to novelist Salman Rushdie, Comedy Central star Jon Stewart appears to be unapologetic for featuring Muslim extremist folk singer Cat Stevens (a.k.a. Yusuf Islam) at his Rally to Restore Sanity last Saturday. Stevens has previously supported a long-standing Islamic death sentence against Rushdie.
Standpoint magazine’s Nick Cohen spoke to Rushdie this morning, who told him that: “I spoke to Jon Stewart about Yusuf Islam's appearance. He said he was sorry it upset me, but really, it was plain that he was fine with it. Depressing.”
After Rushdie penned The Satanic Verses in 1988, Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him, claiming that the book was “blasphemous against Islam.”
Stevens, a Muslim convert, has reiterated his support for the death sentence on multiple occasions, most recently in 1997. When asked during a 1989 interview whether he would take part in a protest that burned Rushdie in effigy, Stevens replied that “I would have hoped that it'd be the real thing.” The singer has never apologized for endorsing the fatwa.
If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences goes ahead with its plan to award French filmmaker Jean Luc Godard an honorary Oscar on Nov. 13, Hollywood will be celebrating a man who defends Palestinian terrorism and who regularly equates Israel with Nazi Germany.
The filmmaker, renowned for his avant-garde “French New Wave” films, has described Israel as “a cancer on the map of the Middle East.” He has also suggested that the Jews murdered during the Holocaust had actually committed suicide in order to arouse international sympathy and bring about the formation of Israel.
Benjamin Ivry has a great post detailing some of Godard’s most egregious comments at the Jewish Daily Forward:
If you can’t stand the heat, then don’t invite Bill O’Reilly on your show to talk about current events. Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar flew off the handle during a live taping of “The View” on Thursday, storming off-stage during a dispute with O’Reilly over the Ground Zero mosque.
O’Reilly set the two women off after he said that, “Muslims killed us on 9/11.” Goldberg took offense at the statement, exclaiming “That is such bull----!”
“Extremists did that!” yelled a clearly agitated Goldberg. “What religion was Mr. McVeigh? There was an extremist as well and he killed people --”
As if people need further evidence that the left-leaning “pro-Israel” lobbying group J Street is a complete mess, the blog “Mere Rhetoric” has posted a video showing J Street co-founder Daniel Levy calling the creation of Israel in 1948 “an act that was wrong.”
Levy made the comments at a forum for Arabic news organization Al Jazeera last May. He said that he personally believed that the Holocaust “excused” the wrongful establishment of the Jewish state, but added that “there’s no reason” why Palestinians should think that the creation of Israel was justified.
“I believe the way Jewish history was in 1948 excused – for me, it was good enough for me – an act that was wrong. I don’t expect Palestinians to think that. I have no reason – there’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice in the creation of Israel,” said Levy during the panel discussion.
According to The Politico, EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock will blast the Republican Party for being "anti-woman" in a speech before the Women's National Democratic Club this afternoon.
Schriock will reportedly talk about how the number of female lawmakers in Congress might decline this year, echoing a front-page USA Today headline from Monday that claimed "Elections are likely to trim number of women in Congress."
In fact, the number of women running for Congress is at a record high this election season, thanks to a significant increase in female Republican candidates. There are over 100 women running on the GOP ticket for House seats alone.
But that hasn't stopped EMILY's List from continuing to portray conservatives and Republicans as chauvinistic.
Blasting the GOP as a "party that believes that women belong in the kitchen," Schriock will reportedly say that "This year may be the first year in 30 years that the number of women in Congress decreases. And the possible result could be truly devestating: Speaker John Boehner."
Standup comic and New York Times-bestselling author Sarah Silverman joked on Twitter that widows of the Sept. 11 attacks "give the best handjobs" on Oct. 6, attributing the quote to pseudonymous 19th century author and satirist Mark Twain.
"‘9/11 widows give the best hand jobs.' -Mark Twain," wrote Silverman, adding the hashtag, "#notcooltwain."
Later that day, the star of Comedy Central's "Sarah Silverman Program," appeared to amend her outlandish comment.
"Have remorse about last tweet," Silverman wrote on Twitter. "I'm sorry. Meant to be silly not mean. Should've quoted [Civil Rights activist and poet Maya] Angelou."
Hey J Street staffers, here's a friendly tip: When you're going to deny you said something on-the-record to a reporter, make sure the statement wasn't on tape.
The Washington Times revealed last week that the liberal "pro-Israel" group J Street had lied about taking money from anti-Zionist philanthropist George Soros. Today, a couple of the paper's trenchant investigative reporters uncovered even more devastating information on the group:
You know things are bad when a liberal organization loses the journalists.
On Friday, the Washington Times reported that the dovish "pro-Israel" group J Street had taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from controversial liberal philanthropist George Soros, after the organization had denied for years that Soros was a donor.
But instead of ‘fessing up immediately to its true funding sources, a panicked J Street public relations team kept misleading the media in the hours before the Washington Times story broke - and appeared to anger some formerly-sympathetic reporters along the way.
"A set of half-truths, non-truths and ambiguities from J Street lead a reasonable person to conclude that the group tried to conceal that George Soros has been one of its largest donors for years, and to falsely claim that it had been ‘open' about those donations over the past three years," wrote The Atlantic reporter Chris Good on Friday, noting that J Street officials had lied to him earlier that day.
A New York Times reporter, who has co-authored several fawning articles on the Ground Zero mosque, previously attended a media training program run by the mosque's organizer, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, according to the group's website.
The journalist, Sharaf Mowjood, participated in an April, 2009 media training program led by Rauf's American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), reported the Investigative Project on Terrorism on Sept. 20. Rauf founded ASMA in 1997, and currently serves as the group's CEO.
Mowjood's first article on the Ground Zero mosque - a glowing, 1,200-word piece titled "Muslim Prayers and Renewal Near Ground Zero" - was co-authored with Ralph Blumenthal in December, 2009. All eight of the sources cited in the piece said they approved of the Ground Zero project or lauded its leader Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Mowjood was also a contributing reporter to a similarly sympathetic piece on the mosque on Aug. 11, as well as a flattering front-page profile on Rauf that ran in the paper on Aug. 22.
Being the manager of George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign? Totally homophobic. Using gay jokes to mock a Republican leader who just came out of the closet? Totally hilarious.
At least that's the message liberal comedian and former Air America shock jock Marc Maron sent on Twitter, after he was unexpectedly seated next to former GOP National Committee Chairman and head of Bush's 2004 re-election campaign Ken Mehlman on a flight.
The ex-GOP chair announced that he was gay last month, which prompted outrage from liberals who were still angry that Bush opposed gay marriage during the 2004 campaign.
"Should I Tea Bag Ken Mehlman as he sleeps?" cracked Maron on his Twitter page on Sept. 19, before posting photos of himself showing off his nipples while the Republican leader dozed in the next seat.
Craigslist.com has finally nixed its controversial Adult Services section, but it looks like the popular website may still be giving the green light to hundreds of prostitution ads - with dozens more popping up on the site each day.
The go-to portal for online classified ads and local discussion boards, Craigslist has been criticized for years for selling ad space to sex-peddlers and prostitution rings. Law enforcement officials and watchdog groups say that the site is frequently used by human sex traffickers and pimps to find clients for women and children who have been coerced into the sex industry.
On Sept. 4, Craigslist removed its Adult Services section in response to a letter from attorneys general in 17 states urging the website to crack down on prostitution ads.
But it doesn't look like the sex traffickers had to move far. Other sections of the Craigslist site are still overrun with ads for "sensual massage parlors" - many of which have been identified as brothels by law enforcement officials or sex industry websites.
The director of the popular Arab-language TV station Al Arabiya says that the Muslim world is not angry over increasing American opposition to a proposed mosque at Ground Zero, and that any claims to the contrary are attempts to "fabricate a conflict."
"The lack of a unified stance throughout the Islamic world should be seen as response to the current attempt by some to 'fabricate' a conflict, claiming that Muslims are angry with the refusal to build a mosque in such a controversial setting," wrote director Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashid in an Aug. 29 column in a London daily. The column was translated and posted on the website for the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Some news outlets have claimed that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque may "fuel Islamic extremism" in the Muslim world.
He may be playing hide-and-seek from drone missiles in the caves of Yemen, but Al Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki is still attempting to poison the minds of young Muslim Americans through the use of YouTube and other social media.
The extent of Al-Awlaki's reach on the internet is outlined in a new report released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on Aug. 28. The report describes the millions of views garnered by Al-Awlaki's YouTube video clips and the online networking of his rabid fan base.
A former imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia, the American-born Al-Awlaki has increasingly been using social media as a recruiting method for would-be jihadists, leading terrorist watchers to dub him the "[Osama] bin Laden of the internet" and the "sheikh of YouTube." Al-Awlaki has been tied to the Sept. 11 hijackers, the Christmas Day bomber and the Fort Hood shooter. This past spring, President Obama ordered that the cleric be killed on sight, but the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on Aug. 30 to prevent the military from targeting the U.S. citizen without a trial.
According to MEMRI, after Al-Awlaki's personal website was shuttered in 2009, YouTube became the "largest clearinghouse of his online videos."
Come on, John Mayer -- Jennifer Aniston isn't that bad.
Mayer, a popular singer-songwriter, slammed the Huffington Post, after the website reported that he and Aniston were possibly rekindling their old relationship.
In a frenzied blog post titled "Huffington Post FULL OF SH*T? (Yes!)," Mayer called the liberal-leaning news website "the internet Death Star" and "dangerous."
"The reason I'm calling you out instead of all the other magazines that make stories up out of thin air is that In Touch and Star Magazine aren't concurrently writing pieces about Pat Tillman or WikiLeaks," ranted Mayer. "Those other rags know who they are, and even if they're obnoxious, I'd rather have to live with them because they (and the rest of the world) know where they stand, which doesn't make them one tenth as dangerous as you are."
In a passionate and politically-charged post on his blog, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote that Glenn Beck is a "zealot" who makes "daily insinuations" that President Obama is a secret Muslim and that Sarah Palin uses "Mein Kampf" tactics and "coded words" on Twitter.
"One buried motive for the attacks on Park51 is exploitation of the insane belief of 20% of Americans that President Obama is a Muslim," wrote Ebert in the Aug. 19 blog post. "Zealots like Glenn Beck, with his almost daily insinuations about the Muslim grandfather Obama never knew and the father he met only once, are encouraging this mistaken belief."
Ebert also slammed Sarah Palin, writing that "her tweets are mine fields of coded words; for her, 'patriot' is defined as, 'those who agree with me.' When she says 'Americans,' it is not inclusive."
In an unusual move, the Associated Press has publicly released an advisory memo to its reporters on how to cover the Ground Zero mosque story - and the first rule is that journalists must immediately stop calling it the "Ground Zero mosque" story.
"We should continue to avoid the phrase ‘Ground zero mosque' or ‘mosque at ground zero' on all platforms," reads the advisory, which was issued by the AP's Standards Center.
Instead of the "Ground Zero mosque," AP recommends that reporters use the terms "mosque 2 blocks from WTC site," "Muslim (or Islamic) center near WTC site," "mosque near ground zero," or "mosque near WTC site."
The AP suggests that it might "useful in some stories to note that Muslim prayer services have been held since 2009 in the building that the new project will replace." In addition, the news service offers a "succinct summary of President Obama's position" on the mosque, but doesn't include the positions of any other politicians.
Pop-singer Sheryl Crow has always been outspoken about her own political views, but now she's telling former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to zip it.
"I saw you ranting on TV today, I heard you tell me to reload. You got a lot of nerve to talk that way, someone unplug the microphone," sings Crow in her new anthem, "Say What You Want," which was released in late July.
The angsty, politically-charged song makes plenty of references to "kool-aid drinking," "talking heads" and, of course, "ignorance."
"I'm tired of all the fighting, cynicism and back biting. Can't even hear myself think, you pour the kool-aid and then we drink," sings Crow of Palin.
The Grammy Award-winning songstress makes it clear what she thinks of conservative views, crooning sarcastically that "Ignorance is patriotic, reasons are so idiotic."
The director of Al-Arabiya TV, a popular Arab-language news station, wrote that "Muslims never asked for" the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, and "do not care about its construction," in a column for London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on Aug. 16.
“I can't imagine that Muslims [actually] want a mosque at this particular location, because it will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monument to those who committed the crime,” wrote Al-Arabiya director Abd Al-Rahman al-Rashid in the column, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “Moreover, there are no practicing Muslims in the area who need a place to worship, because it is a commercial district. Is there anyone who is [really] eager [to build] this mosque?”
Al-Rashid said that President Barack Obama’s support of the mosque was similar to the administration’s previous decision to close Guantanamo Bay and try suspected terrorists as civilians. “"Muslims do not [really] yearn [to build] a mosque near the 9/11 cemetery, nor do they care whether bin Laden's cook is tried in a civilian court [or a military one],” said al-Rashid, noting that “tens of thousands of Muslims, likewise accused of extremism, are imprisoned in [even] worse conditions in the Muslim countries.”
Yesterday, organizers of the Ground Zero mosque project took to Twitter to slam Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, after the paper incorrectly reportedthat plans for the controversial Islamic prayer center were being abandoned.
But some say the mosque's organizers went too far by mocking Ha'aretz with references to Jewish culture.
"On a side note, if Haaretz likes publishing fables, perhaps they could go back to the Yiddish ones with parables #welikethosebetter," Tweeted Park51, which calls itself the "official Twitter account" of the Ground Zero mosque project. Yiddish is a language that originated with and was used primarily by the Ashkenazi Jewish community in Eastern Europe.
Ground Zero mosque organizer Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been described by the media as a "moderate" and a "bridge-builder." But not too long ago, the same news outlets gave identical labels to a radical Virginia mosque that has been linked to some of the most infamous Islamic terrorist attacks in recent years. And it celebrated in the same terms a "prayer-leader" who is now one of the most wanted Al Queda terrorists in the world.
The Washington Post reported on the Dar al-Hijrah mosque 30 times from Sept. 11, 1983, to Sept. 11, 2001, and the big news stories about the prayer center were its popular summer camp, its charitable activities and its joyful celebrations of Muslim holidays.
But to federal investigators and watchdog groups, the big news about the Dar al-Hijrah mosque was that it was a magnet for some of the top names in terrorism - most recently including the Sept. 11 hijackers and the Fort Hood shooter.
The mosque's former imam, Anwar Al Awlaki has been tied to numerous terror attacks in the U.S., and is now serving as a top Al Qaeda leader in Yemen. Al Awlaki will be shot on sight if he is tracked down by the U.S. military, under an order given by President Obama this past April.
"Hollywood may shun Mel Gibson for his anti-Semitic ravings, but the right wing in George Bush's increasingly hate-filled America won't," wrote Salon.com's Neal Gabler on August 1, 2006, four days after Mel Gibson was arrested for drunkenly spewing anti-Semitic hatred to a police officer.
Fast-forward to 2010. It's been three days since director Oliver Stone churned out similarly disturbing anti-Jewish rhetoric to the Sunday Times, and many of Gibson's most prominent critics on the left - including Salon.com - still haven't issued a word of condemnation about Stone's comments.
Similarly, the network news shows have ignored Stone's remarks, despite their wall-to-wall coverage of Gibson's reprehensible diatribe in 2006. The media blitz over Gibson's comments began the day after his arrest with ABC's World News Saturday, and continued non-stop on ABC, NBC and CBS until Aug. 4, 2006.
Director Oliver Stone belittled the Holocaust during a shocking interview with the Sunday Times today, claiming that America's focus on the Jewish massacre was a product of the "Jewish domination of the media."
The director also defended Hitler and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and railed against the "powerful lobby" of Jews in America.
Stone said that his upcoming Showtime documentary series "Secret History of America," seeks to put Hitler and Communist dictator Joseph Stalin "in context."
"Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support," Stone told reporter Camilla Long during the interview, which can be found behind the paywall on the Sunday Times' website.
Should there be a "gatekeeper" regulating internet bloggers? In the aftermath of the Shirley Sherrod incident, that's what CNN promoted on July 23.
Anchors Kyra Phillips and John Roberts discussed the "mixed blessing of the internet," and agreed that there should be a crackdown on anonymous bloggers who disparage others on the internet.
"There are so many great things that the internet does and has to offer, but at the same time, Kyra, as you know, there is this dark side," Roberts said. "Imagine what would have happened if we hadn't taken a look at what happened with Shirley Sherrod and plumbed the depths further and found out that what had been posted on the internet was not in fact reflective of what she said."
Retro pop sensation Cyndi Lauper may "just wanna have fun" - but not with the Bush administration, evangelists or the "gullible" American people.
The singer slammed George W. Bush as a "criminal," dismissed evangelism as "bullshit," and mocked Americans during an interview with Xtra!, Canada's Gay and Lesbian News on July 20.
"The past - this year's getting a little better, but the past eight years, it was so dark," said the blonde popstar. "[I]t was like a fire sale, just before Obama came in ... And then this guy goes in and it's ‘his fault.' But it's not his fault - it's the other two. The criminals that never got charged."
"[T]he way he would go on television - that George Bush, and speak hate. I mean, just unabashed hatred," Lauper continued.
What's the key to pulling your political organization out of "irrelevancy"? Well if you're the NAACP, you can start by hammering on allegations of Tea Party "racism."
News coverage of the NAACP has exploded since the "nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization" passed a resolution last week attacking the Tea Party for including "racist" elements in its organization.
Not only has the story spawned hundreds of news articles, but the network news stations have also taken notice. In just six days - from July 13 to July 18 - the NAACP's feud with the Tea Party was discussed on eight network news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC.
"And what about the NAACP`s new charges of racism against elements of the Tea Party? We`ll bring in the head of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, and one of the leaders of the Tea Party, David Webb," Bob Schieffer said on "CBS Evening News" on July 18.
Last week, singer Jimmy Buffett took a swipe at former President George W. Bush, saying that the Republican administration was responsible for the oil spill off the Gulf Coast.
"To me it was more about eight years of bad policy before [President Obama] got there that let this happen," Buffett told the Associated Press. "It was Dracula running the blood bank in terms of oil and leases."
But Buffett appeared to change his mind at his concert in Gulf Shores, Alabama on Sunday, and laid the blame for the spill solely on BP.
"Down Syndrome Girl," the unfunny and offensive Family Guy song poking fun at a female character with special needs, has been nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.
The Feb. 14 Family Guy episode, which the song appeared in, sparked outrage after its premiere - most notably from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who has a son with Down syndrome.
At one point in the episode, the character with Down syndrome said that her mom was "the former governor of Alaska," a clear reference to Palin and her son, Trig.
Palin quickly criticized the show for the distasteful jab at her son. "[W]hy make it tougher on the special needs community? When is enough enough? When are we going to be willing to say some things just aren't really funny?" she said on Feb. 16.