FNC Chides NYT for Downplaying Muslim Extremism of NYC Terrorists

UPDATE: MRC's Times Watch site tackled the Times's strange omission of the Muslim extremism angle last week: TimesWatch.org

On Saturday's Fox Newswatch, host Jon Scott led the panel in a discussion of the New York Times's coverage of the terror plot against synagogues in New York City, as the paper downpayed the extreme Muslim beliefs of the plotters. Even liberal analyst Jane Hall took the New York Times to task, arguing that the conversion of the plotters to Islam while serving time in prison was "an important part of the story."

Scott opened discussion of the topic:

Coverage of the stories in the New York Times seemed to gloss over the group's openly expressed desire to commit jihad, even though the police commissioner mentioned it at a news conference. Why did the New York Times decide to shy away from mentioning the suspect's extreme Muslim beliefs?

Conservative analyst Andrea Tantaros complained about a trend toward oversensitivity in talking about Muslim extremism to the point of omitting key facts in a story:

They're afraid to call it what it is. We've seen terrorist attacks are now man-made disasters. We can't talk about the war on terror. We can't call things out for what they really are for fear of blowback or we might upset somebody's feelings.

The normally liberal Hall agreed with the panel's criticism: "I think this criticism of the New York Times is valid. They did this once before. It's not that they didn't mention it, but it's not the lead."

Referring to the New York Post's reporting that the terrorists had been converted to Islam in prison, she continued: "It read something like that, thatthey have been converted. That is also a scary thing, and an important part of the story. And it's considered, we don't want to, most Muslims are not terrorists. And you can just see the logic of the story."

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Saturday, May 30, Fox Newswatch on FNC:

JON SCOTT: Last week, on this program, we discussed coverage of the debate over our national security policy. On one day, we witnessed a sitting President and a former Vice President expressing almost opposite views about how we should fight the terrorists who want to harm us.

The speeches delivered on the same day that the FBI and New York police announced they had foiled a homegrown terror plot. Coverage of the stories in the New York Times seemed to gloss over the group's openly expressed desire to commit jihad, even though the police commissioner mentioned it at a news conference. Why did the New York Times decide to shy away from mentioning the suspect's extreme Muslim beliefs? Do you have a thought on that, Andrea?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CONSERVATIVE ANALYST: Absolutely, this is a move that the country is going in. And the Obama administration is setting the tone. We're more concerned with being sensitive than actually reporting the facts here. And I think it's particularly when you're talking about radical Islamic Jihadism. They're afraid to call it what it is. We've seen terrorist attacks are now man-made disasters. We can't talk about the war on terror. We can't call things out for what they really are for fear of blowback or we might upset somebody's feelings.

SCOTT: Jane, the White House has officially stopped using war on terror.

JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think this criticism of the New York Times is valid. They did this once before. It's not that they didn't mention it, but it's not the lead. The New York Post was like, jailhouse jihad, maybe. ... I don't know if that's the headline, but it read something like that, that they have been converted. That is also a scary thing, and an important part of the story. And it's considered, we don't want to -- most Muslims are not terrorists. And you can just see the logic of the story.

SCOTT: Jonathan?

JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO.COM: Yeah, I was struck by the fact that President Obama did not incorporate this foiled plot into his speech last week. I think it's a reminder of the threat that's still out there even to this day.