Frank Rich Blames Ground Zero Mosque Opinion On Rupert Murdoch's 'Islamophobia Command Center'

New York Times columnist Frank Rich on Sunday blamed America's opinion of the Ground Zero mosque on the "Islamophobia command center" of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

As readers are likely aware, its properties include Fox News, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal, all witting accomplices to a devious plot to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment according to Rich.

Never mind that public opinion polls around the country and in New York state show vast majorities in opposition to the building of this Islamic center at the site of the 9/11 attacks.

In Rich's paranoid view, it's all Murdoch's fault:

In the five months after The Times's initial account there were no newspaper articles on the project at all. It was only in May of this year that the Rupert Murdoch axis of demagoguery revved up, jettisoning Ingraham's benign take for a New York Post jihad. The paper's inspiration was a rabidly anti-Islam blogger best known for claiming that Obama was Malcolm X's illegitimate son. Soon the rest of the Murdoch empire and its political allies piled on, promoting the incendiary libel that the "radical Islamists" behind the "ground zero mosque" were tantamount either to neo-Nazis in Skokie (according to a Wall Street Journal columnist) or actual Nazis (per Newt Gingrich). [...]

The Fox patron saint Sarah Palin calls Park51 a "stab in the heart" of Americans who "still have that lingering pain from 9/11." But her only previous engagement with the 9/11 site was when she used it as a political backdrop for taking her first questions from reporters nearly a month after being named to the G.O.P. ticket. (She was so eager to grab her ground zero photo op that she defied John McCain's just-announced "suspension" of their campaign.) [...]

At the Islamophobia command center, Murdoch's News Corporation, the hypocrisy is, if anything, thicker. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial darkly cited unspecified "reports" that Park51 has "money coming from Saudi charities or Gulf princes that also fund Wahabi madrassas." As Jon Stewart observed, this brand of innuendo could also be applied to News Corp., whose second largest shareholder after the Murdoch family is a member of the Saudi royal family. Perhaps last week's revelation that News Corp. has poured $1 million into G.O.P. campaign coffers was a fiendishly clever smokescreen to deflect anyone from following the far greater sum of Saudi money (a $3 billion stake) that has flowed into Murdoch enterprises, or the News Corp. money (at least $70 million) recently invested in a Saudi media company.

Were McCain in the White House, Fox and friends would have kept ignoring Park51. But it's an irresistible target in our current election year because it revives the most insidious anti-Obama narrative of the many Fox promoted in the previous election year: Obama the closet Muslim and secret madrassa alumnus.

Rich then cited a number of polls including the recent Pew Research Center survey regarding Obama's religious beliefs as well as the increasing opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet nowhere did he inform readers about the vast majorities against building this mosque in its current proposed location.

According to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation:

[N]early 70 percent of all Americans oppose the controversial plan to build the mosque just blocks away from the solemn site in lower Manhattan while just 29 percent favor the construction.

Broken down by party affiliation, 54 percent of Democrats oppose the plans while 82 percent of Republicans disapprove. Meanwhile, 70 percent of independents said they are against the proposal.

A Siena Research Institute poll found 61 percent of New Yorkers also opposed to this mosque's location.

Are all of these folks getting their news from Fox, the Journal, and the Post?

Consider that Fox News on Thursday averaged a little over 1 million viewers throughout the day, with prime time at 2.4 million. 

For its part, the Journal's circulation is 2.1 million. The Post is a little above 500,000.

Add it all up, and even in prime time, these three outlets touch roughly five million people a day.

But according to Rich, we have them to blame for the overwhelming majority opposed to the Ground Zero mosque.

As Hillary Clinton might say, it requires a willing suspension of disbelief to reach such an absurd conclusion.

Nice job, Frank!  

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.