Condemning everyday Americans as racist, anti-immigrant Islamophobes was a favorite media theme in 2010, as documented by the Media Research Center's year-end Best Notable Quotables of 2010. Polls showed most Americans supported Arizona's effort to curb illegal immigration and opposed building an Islamic center near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers — but on both scores the media elite stacked their coverage against the public.
Winning the "Hazing Arizona Award for Denigrating Immigration Enforcement" was longtime New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who summoned images of resistance to Nazi occupation in an April 27 op-ed hoping for protests of the "police state" she claimed Arizona had become for trying to protect itself from illegal immigration.
“I’m glad I’ve already seen the Grand Canyon. Because I’m not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state," Greenhouse slammed before lurching towards the inevitable Nazi metaphor: "Everyone remembers the wartime Danish king who drove through Copenhagen wearing a Star of David in support of his Jewish subjects. It’s an apocryphal story, actually, but an inspiring one. Let the good people of Arizona — and anyone passing through — walk the streets of Tucson and Phoenix wearing buttons that say: ‘I Could Be Illegal.’”
In the same vein, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on May 3 rued how "hundreds of thousands" of illegal immigrants lived in Arizona, "but as Kelly Cobiella reports, many no longer feel welcome.” Cobiella's story zeroed in on a family selling its possessions, including a fuzzy green teddy bear, in preparation to move to Colorado. Cobiella said of the mother, Manuela Quintana: "She’s lost hope in this state. She thinks she’ll find it again in another.”
ABC's World News on July 27 was even more hyperbolic: "Tonight, undocumented immigrants — many working in this country for decades — are fleeing the state, or hiding in fear,” anchor Diane Sawyer breathlessly touted. Correspondent Bill Weir intoned: "There is a fear-driven exodus going on in Arizona tonight. More vacant apartments, more empty shops, more kids disappearing from school.... Francisco has been in Phoenix without papers for 14 years, but says now he’s afraid to walk the streets. So he’ll take his family and leave as soon as he can.”
The media's approach was remarkably similiar when it came to their coverage of the Ground Zero mosque. Winning the "Ground Zeroes Award for Impugning Americans as Islamophobic" was new ABC host Christiane Amanpour, who accused conservatives of whipping up anti-Islamic sentiment for political reason.
In an October 3 townhall discussion, Amanpour got in the face of onetime Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer: "As you know, a series of politicians have used the Islamic center, have used sort of Islamophobia and scare tactics in their campaigns." After Bauer rejected her premise, Amanpour plowed on, demanding he apologize for an act of vandalism that took place near a mosque construction site in Tennessee: "Do you take any — after some of the loaded things that have been said, and we can play you any number of tapes, Mr. Bauer — do you take any responsibility at all for, for instance, what happened in Murfreesboro?”
Bauer was incredulous: "Are you serious? Absolutely not. I have never encouraged violence. I condemn violence.” Amanpour persisted: "You don’t think the rhetoric lays the groundwork for others?”
As Greenhouse had with Arizona's immigration law, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann darkly linked opposition to the insensitive mosque project to Nazi genocide: "I make no direct comparison between the attempts to suppress the building of a Muslim religious center in downtown Manhattan and the unimaginable nightmare of the Holocaust. Such a comparison is ludicrous — at least, it is now.”
Time magazine's Bobby Ghosh made the publicity rounds after penning his magazine's "Is America Islamophobic" cover story in August. He claimed on CNN: "There is a lot of hate speech, and it’s getting louder and more vicious....In these mosque protests, we’ve seen that hate speech take on a new and more venomous tinge....As somebody who I spoke to during the story told me, Islamophobia is now the accepted form of racism in this country.”
Rounding out this category, CBS's Katie Couric taped a video for her "Katie Couric's Notebook" at CBSNews.com, scolding mosque opponents as terrorists intent on "tearing down the towers" of American values:
“It might be Islamophobia, Obamaphobia, or both, but when loud speakers are blaring ‘Born in the USA’ and signs say ‘No Clubhouse for Terrorists,’ it’s clear we aren’t just talking about a mosque anymore. There is a debate to be had about the sensitivity of building this center so close to Ground Zero. But we can not let fear and rage tear down the towers of our core American values.”
Thank goodness Katie Couric exists to offer lectures on "core American values" to her hateful, bigoted audience.