CNN Zeroes-In on 'Right-Wing' Backlash Against Muslims From Pajamas Media

Carol Costello, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgOn Monday’s American Morning, CNN’s Carol Costello highlighted a column on the “right-wing” Pajamas Media website during a report on a possible backlash against Muslim soldiers, but omitted how the author of the column is a noted feminist, and that her only “right-wing” credential is her focus on Islamic misogyny.

Anchor John Roberts introduced Costello’s report, noting that  apparently “many people [are] fearing a backlash against America’s Muslim soldiers” after the shooting rampage at Fort Hood on November 5. The CNN correspondent featured the mother of a Muslim army corporal who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq during the segment.

This mother, according to Costello, is “worried there will be a backlash against Muslim American soldiers. She knows some are already reaching conclusions as to why Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire on his fellow soldiers.” As an example of someone “reaching conclusions,” the correspondent quoted from a column by Phyllis Chesler of Pajamas Media: “The right-wing website, Pajamas Media, is an example. Phyllis Chesler writing, ‘I knew in my bones that the shooter or shooters were Muslim. We must connect the dots before it's too late.’ The suspicion about Muslims, even those born in the United States, intensified after 9/11.” The quote comes from a November 5 column on the conservative website.

Costello did not explain during her report that Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island, and has written 13 books, mainly on feminist subjects, including “Patriarchy: Notes of an Expert Witness” and “Feminist Foremothers in Women’s Studies, Psychology, and Mental Health.” In a 1998 interview with Time magazine about feminism, she defined the ideology, in part, as “a woman’s body is her own, and she should not be invaded against her will by a rapist , nor should she be prevented from having an abortion.” Clearly, Chesler is no huge “right-winger,” as Costello would have one believe.

Chesler’s contributions to Pajamas Media, which date back to May 2008, largely focus on subjects related to Islam’s subjugation of women, such as “honor” killings and bans on the burqa. Her personal website has an entire section devoted to the subject of “honor” killings. One might conclude that her personal stances on these issues lead CNN to label her “right wing.”

The full transcript of Carol Costello’s report, which began 45 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of Monday’s American Morning:

JOHN ROBERTS: The massacre at Fort Hood has many people fearing a backlash against America’s Muslim soldiers. Thirteen people were killed, and dozens more injured last week when army psychiatrist, Nidal Hasan, allegedly opened fire on his fellow troops. Hasan is Muslim. His motive remains unknown.

Our Carol Costello live in Washington this morning with an ‘AM Original.’ And army leaders, even the President, are worried about a potential backlash here, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO: They are, John. The army’s chief of staff is worried about backlash against Muslim soldiers. General Casey saying as great as tragedy as it was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty, as well. It’s something that deeply worries many Americans who are Muslim and have made the ultimate sacrifice.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Elsheba Khan visits Arlington National Cemetery every Sunday without fail. Her son, Army Corporal Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, is buried here.

ELSHEBA KHAN, SON KILLED IN IRAQ: He’s a Muslim and he would stand for his county. It doesn’t matter what.

COSTELLO: Khan is worried there will be a backlash against Muslim American soldiers. She knows some are already reaching conclusions as to why Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire on his fellow soldiers. The right-wing website, Pajamas Media, is an example. Phyllis Chesler writing, ‘I knew in my bones that the shooter or shooters were Muslim. We must connect the dots before it's too late.’ The suspicion about Muslims, even those born in the United States, intensified after 9/11. It’s the reason Khan’s American-born son joined the army as soon as he turned 18, telling his parents-

KHAN: I’m a citizen. I protect my country, whoever is there in the country. It doesn’t matter race, whatever.

COSTELLO: And Kareen Khan did that- awarded a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and an honored place at Arlington National Cemetery. A picture of Khan’s tombstone with symbols of his religion and patriotism so touched General Colin Powell, he used the image to open minds about Islam when he endorsed Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential run.

GENERAL COLIN POWELL (from interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’): Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that’s not America.

COSTELLO: Powell’s acknowledgement of her son’s service profoundly touched Khan.

KHAN: When he mentioned my son and he mentioned his full name, and he pronounced it correctly, I was like the proudest mom that day.

COSTELLO: President Obama also honored Kareem Khan, and Khan’s fellow soldiers have written her glowing accounts of Khan's outstanding service to country.

KHAN: I don’t like nobody touching anything [sic].

COSTELLO: Of course, the public outpouring has quieted now. Still, Khan keeps her son’s medals and his pictures on display in her home, and every Sunday, she visits him, now praying her fellow Americans will not pass judgment at all Muslims because of the actions of one man.

COSTELLO (on-camera): Roughly 3,500 American servicemen and women are Muslim, and if you ask the U.S. Marine Corps if it’s concerned about that, 1st Lt. Josh Dittums told us bluntly, the Corps has not seen any trends that indicate individuals are any more likely to be involved in an incident based upon their religion- John?

ROBERTS: But here’s something I am wondering about, Carol, that this clash of cultures in the military- when a Muslim enlists in the military, I have heard many stories that they’ve been harassed, that a lot of pressure has been put on them, and they’re just not made to feel welcome. Did Kareem Khan- has Kareem Khan experienced any of that?

COSTELLO: Kareem Khan did experience that, but as his mother told me- you know, he was a good soldier, and he earned the respect of his fellow soldiers and that eventually stopped. He joined the service because he was Muslim and because he was American, and he wanted to defend both his religion and his country because Muslims, in his mind- you know, don’t carry out suicide bombings.

ROBERTS: Yeah, exactly. All right- great story this morning. Carol Costello for us from Washington. Carol thanks so much.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center