On Monday's Morning Joe, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski went out of their way to defend President Obama's Friday statement defending the planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. Brzezinski cooed that the President "did the right thing by saying what he said." Scarborough labeled the remark "non-controversial," and later stated the controversy over the mosque was a "wedge issue" [audio clip available here].
As NewsBusters' Noel Shepard reported, the former Florida congressman turned MSNBC anchor blasted Newt Gingrich for his barrage against the President for his defense of the mosque. Earlier in the broadcast, just after the top of the 7 am Eastern hour, Brzezinski related her personal anecdote about discussing the issue over her recent vacation, and went right into her "right thing" defense of the President's stance.
Scarborough replied to this by berating Gingrich, in an early preview of his later attack:
Subbing for Ed Schultz on MSNBC this evening, Cenk Uygur suggested that the roughly 70% of Americans who oppose the Ground Zero mosque are "ignorant." Uygur was debating the mosque matter with Republican strategist and former Newt staffer David Winston. Winston suggested that the people behind the mosque could, in light of the overwhelming oppposition of Americans to the plan, show sensitivity by agreeing to site it elsewhere.
That provoked Cenk's snide insult, which, as you'll see, actually revealed his own lack of knowledge on the subject . . .
MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Monday dismissed the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque as a "political smokescreen." The liberal anchor derided opponents of the planned construction who live in other states, sneering that there are "people in Kansas, California, Alaska, saying 'Oh my God. The sky is falling. The Muslims are going to kill us! It's all going to end!'"
He compared, "But, the people in Tribeca and Soho who are just, kind of, getting a cup of coffee."
Earlier in the segment, Ratigan wondered, "But is all this back and forth just a political smoke screen? Polls show a majority of Americans struggling with the same conflict as the President's statements and his expressions."
Add USA Today to the list of mainstream media outlets denouncing opponents of the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero. In a Monday editorial, “New York mosque fight stirs all the wrong passions,” the “nation's newspaper” declared: “The argument over building a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero is mostly a sorry exercise in political exploitation” and berated that it's “created a convenient rallying point for those who instead want to foment hatred.” The Gannett-paper's bottom line, build it:
Perhaps those seeking to build the New York mosque will defuse the situation by seeking a less controversial site. But if they do not, the mosque, like the calm that has prevailed since Sept. 11, 2001, will stand as a marker of the USA's enduring commitment to religious freedom.
The USA Today editorial board, led by former Executive Editor Brian Gallagher, scolded Republicans for whipping up “a frenzy, giving lip service to religious freedom but offering no solution that wouldn't offend it. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been setting new lows for dialogue on this issue, even accused Obama of 'pandering to radical Islam,' as if any President would do such a thing.”
It’s one thing to acknowledge that the Muslim world has had a negative reaction to America's war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq, but, when one starts referring to "the previous eight years" before the Obama administration, it starts to sound like partisan Democratic talking points. As ABC’s Christiane Amanpour appeared on Sunday’s Good Morning America to discuss President Obama’s predicament regarding his speech on the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, Amanpour at one point recounted that relations with the Muslim world had suffered during the "previous eight years" before Obama became President.
After host John Berman queried as to "how is this playing in the Muslim world," Amanpour in her response asserted: "But clearly President Obama from the very beginning went out of his way to try to repair relations with the Islamic world which had been so devastatingly damaged over the previous eight years."
The war in Afghanistan was only seven years old when Obama took office, so her "previous eight years" crack could only be interpreted as a direct reference to the Bush presidency rather than just the war.
Good Morning America's Dan Harris on Monday highlighted the worry that the proposed Ground Zero mosque could bring a "rising tide of Islamophobia in the country, with increasingly venomous fights over proposed new mosques in places like California, Wisconsin and Tennessee." [MP3 audio here.]
He repeated the argument of the mosque's proponents, saying, "Defenders point out that also close to Ground Zero are two strip clubs, an adult/lingerie store and an off-track betting parlor."
Appearing on Monday's CBS Early Show to discuss President Obama showing support for a controversial mosque being built near Ground Zero, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer agreed with the President's sentiment but lamented the political fallout: "The President said and made the right intellectual argument, but I'm not sure that it was great politics for him to say it at this particular time."
Schieffer began by outlining White House talking points on the issue to substitute co-host Erica Hill: "The story they tell is the President thought this Ramadan dinner – these were dinners that were started after 9/11 by President Bush as an outreach to demonstrate that our problems are with terrorists, not with people who are Muslims – he thought this was an appropriate place to say what all Americans believe, in that everyone has a right to practice their religion in this country." Schieffer later added: "I would agree with the White House."
At the same time, both Hill and Schieffer fretted over the political fallout, particularly Republican criticism. Hill teased the segment at the top of show by declaring that Obama's "apparent defense of the proposed mosque at Ground Zero has Republicans howling." Schieffer remarked: "Republicans are trying to take every advantage of this they can."
Michael Scherer of Time tried to explain the concept of "Why Barack Obama Doesn't Like to Chit-Chat with the Press Corps" -- despite their obvious affection for him. The president's first Ground Zero Mosque comments were "perfectly scripted," he wrote, and perfectly timed, on a Friday night at a Muslim dinner celebrating Ramadan. Scherer doesn't get that the venue could be controversial, considering Obama's allergies to traditional Christian prayer breakfasts. But this "perfect" scenario was ruined by the White House press pool (specifically, CNN's Ed Henry):
A reporter asked a stray question, and Obama blew all the careful planning of his staff. He varied from his initial remarks, creating a new narrative for a story the White House does not want to linger. Was he adding an asterisk to his remarks, as the Washington Post put it? Was it a recalibration, as the New York Times put it? In short, this is a communications disaster. The White House had to release a statement clarifying the new statement, or restatement, or whatever.
The president's opponents, who had been pushing the mosque issue for weeks as a way to get Democrats on the wrong side of the polls in an election year, came out celebrating. Liz Cheney, who can diminish just about any nuanced thought into a barbed cable news talking point, emailed Politico's Mike Allen from her iPhone. "I guess President Obama was for the mosque before he was against it. You can quote me," went the message.
There seems to be a double-standard at MSNBC when it comes to upholding the Bill of Rights . . .
When people seek to build a mosque near Ground Zero, the consensus among MSNBC liberals seems to be that the exercise of First Amendment rights to freedom of religion cannot be questioned. But it was a different story at MSNBC when, hours before and blocks away from where Pres. Obama was scheduled to speak, a man exercised his Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Readers will recall the case of William Kostric. He was the New Hampshire man who was part of a protest group in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in August 2009 when Pres. Obama came to town for a health care town hall.
Ironically, given the mosque controversy, Kostric was standing on . . . church property. But that made no difference to the wise men of MSNBC.
President Barack Obama’s endorsement Friday night of building a mosque near Ground Zero has driven the establishment press corps to find nobility in pursuing conviction even in the face of public opposition, not something MSM journalists admired about the previous President, while suddenly becoming very concerned about protecting private property rights – all while hailing Obama’s “great global message.” [MP3 audio here.]
“I thought the speech Friday night was a model of political courage, in the sense that he said what he believed knowing that it was going to cost him,” hailed Washington Post Associate Editor David Ignatius on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour. Picking up on Matthew Dowd’s suggestion Obama was echoing George W. Bush’s “it’s my way or the highway” attitude, Chrystia Freeland, global editor-at-large for Reuters, argued:
Another way of talking about that is leadership, conviction, having your beliefs and not governing according to polls. And I think if you ask most Americans what kind of leader you want, if you ask people in the world what kind of leader do you want, you want someone who governs according to conviction....for American leaders to say in the face of, you know, some political pressure from their voters, tosay actually we believe sufficiently strongly in diversity, in private property rights for our Muslim citizens, I think that's a great global message.
It's bad enough that the Daily Kos posts outrageous claims like “the 9/11 attacks were horrific, but they were more about optics than actual harm.” When bizarre sentences like these are exposed, then the exposers are accused of being enemies of “meaningful dialogue.” What is meaningful in telling the families of the victims of 9/11 that their losses were more “optics” than “actual harm”? But that's how the blogger "Something the Dog Said" tried to defend himself against my post on NewsBusters:
Mr. Graham is using the quotes from my posts that are most likely to confirm his readers prejudice against the Left and Daily Kos. By doing so he makes sure there can be no meaningful dialog between the Right and Left.
While the Ground Zero Mosque controversy strikes the media as an opportunity for "healing" that's being denied by stubborn conservatives, the leftists at the Daily Kos see it as an opportunity for Holocaust Denial. The blogger known as "Something the Dog Said" dropped this jaw-dropping paragraph Thursday morning about fear of Muslims:
Given that they are such a small minority in this nation, it is odd that so many of our fellow citizens see them as such a threat. Yes, the 9/11 attacks were horrific, but they were more about optics than actual harm. The economy was already taking a hit before the Twin Towers fell. The reaction of the nation to seeing two major buildings in New York fall on T.V. has boosted the attack out of proportion. While the loss of even a single life is to be condemned and the devastation these deaths caused the families of those killed, more than this number of teens are killed every year in car crashes. These are also tragic losses but we do not make the kind of high profile issue of it that the 9/11 attacks are.
This blogger obviously can't tell the difference in political meaning between a collection of teen car accidents and an intentional, ideological mass murder. This is the same blogger who just wrote on July 30 that Republicans are much scarier than jihadists:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named MRC president Brent Bozell Wednesday's "Worst Person in the World" for my NewsBusters post on Jon Stewart's sneering attack on conservatives as supposedly being opponents of religious freedom over the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. (Audio here.)
Predictably, in choosing this dishonor, Olbermann was playing rip-and-read from certain Hillary Clinton-founded Fox-and-Rush watchdogs, as he routinely acts as the TV Xerox of the Bush-Hating Left-Wing Blogosphere. Olbermann also re-tweeted them yesterday. None of these analysts on the left evaluated their own tendency to see grave threats to freedom of religion and church-state separation from Christian evangelists, but nothing at all threatening to their swaggering secular coolness from Islamic advocates of "dialogue." (See, for example, one take on the Ground Zero Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf's views on America's "Shariah compliance." Hello, Barry Lynn?)
Jon Stewart landed both his jokey feet on the Ground Zero Mosque controversy on The Daily Show Tuesday night. He mocked conservatives for having no respect for freedom of religion. This, from Comedy Central? The network that mocks Jesus and Christians relentlessly, but censors whenever the radical Muslims threaten them? Yes. Stewart was arguing for the “greatness” of Islam, that it should be accepted with great tolerance as a global religion – regardless of how much tolerance Islam demonstrates for freedom of religion.
Stewart mocked conservatives and Republicans. “Haven’t these people ever heard of freedom of religion? Lieutenant Goveror of Tennessee, you wanna take this one?” He ran a hacked-up snippet of GOP Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey: “I'm all about freedom of religion ...you could argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, or cult, whatever you want to call it.”
We’ll get to Stewart’s surgical removal of context later. Stewart made a shocked face, narrowed his eyes, and lectured: “I think religion is what they wanna call it. But point taken. I can see being confused with Scientology, or the thing that Madonna does with the red bracelets, or this whole Justin Bieber craze, certain World Warcraft guilds, Harry Potter book clubs. But I think over 1400 years and over a billion Twitter followers, Islam’s kind of an accepted religion now.”
Again, this is a rich line of argument coming from Stewart, whose acidulous attacks on the Roman Catholic Church hardly qualifies as treating Catholicism as an “accepted religion.” Instead, it’s a den of perverts and hypocrites. It's the "villain" that's "easy to spot."
At the top of his eponymous program yesterday, CNN's Fareed Zakaria took drastic action to protest the Anti-Defamation League's opposition to the proposed Ground Zero mosque. Zakaria, who was honored by the ADL in 2005 with the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, gave back his award because he was "deeply saddened" by the group's respect for the families of 9/11 victims who oppose the construction of a mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero.
"Given the position that they have taken on a core issue of religious freedom in America, I cannot in good conscience keep that award," lamented Zakaria, who hoped that distancing himself from the ADL would compel the organization to realize its "mistake" and reverse its position.
In his lengthy monologue, Zakaria vigorously defended Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's constitutional right to erect the mosque: "If this community center were being built anywhere else in the world, chances are the U.S. government would be funding it."
MELE: ...This sort of persecution, blindly, of one group is what was going on in Germany in the 1930s...You can't say because [Muslims were behind the 9/11 attacks], we can't have them doing anything in our country.
DEIRDRE DOD (staffer): I don't think that's what [opponents of the mosque are] saying...They're saying [that they] want this as a sacred site...They're not saying, 'We hate [Muslims].'
Into this fracas came O'Donnell, with the peace offering that radical Islam and radical Christianity are very similar:
But reporters Michael Barbaro and Javier Hernandez actually led with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's weepy speech about religious tolerance, falsely asserting that that denying permission to build a 13-story Islamic center topped by a mosque would somehow be "denying the very constitutional rights" that New York City police and firefighters died protecting.
And the Times again insinuated that opposition to the mosque is coming mostly from outsiders, while New Yorkers have gotten on with their lives and don't oppose it -- a half-truth at best, as shown by results of a poll of New Yorkers.
Times reporters were very impressed with the speech. Both Jodi Kantor and Brian Stelter linked to speech coverage on their Twitter feeds, Kantor calling it a "must-read" and Stelter calling it "worth reading."
Here's the Times's lead:
As New York City removed the final hurdle for a controversial mosque near ground zero, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg forcefully defended the project on Tuesday as a symbol of America's religious tolerance and sought to reframe a fiery national debate over the project.
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday Defended the building of a mosque near Ground Zero as a monument to tolerance. Talking to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, he proclaimed, "This is a country founded on the notion of religious freedom. What better way to say they [the terrorists] haven't won?"
Ingraham decried the plan for being so close to the site of 9/11 terrorist attack: "And I say the terrorists have won with the way this has gone down. 600 feet from where thousands of our fellow Americans were incinerated in the name of political Islam?"
This prompted the ABC co-host to chide, "In the name of militant, radical Islam, not in the name of Islam."
The atheists at the Daily Kos blog just keeping lobbing bombs. On Friday, the blogger with the handle "Something the Dog Said" protested the protests against the Cordoba Center mosque at Ground Zero. After predictably assigning the anti-abortion shooters to the Christian conservative camp, the Kosmonaut actually said the Muslims are "a pale reflection" of radicalism compared to Republicans:
In the end it is just the SOP of the Republican Party. Find and issue and whip up hysteria, without consideration of the long term affects or what might be lost by the tactic. It is just another of the legion of reasons why the modern Republican Party can not be trusted with the government of the United States or any single state for that matter. The radicalization they claim will come from mosques is just a pale reflection of the radicalization that has occurred in the ranks of their Party. If there is a group to fear, it is Radical Republicans, which is basically to say the most of the Republican Party at this point.
On Wednesday's Newsroom, CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick refreshingly asked the developer behind the planned mosque near Ground Zero many hard questions. Feyerick bluntly asked Sharif el-Gamel, "Why not have a prayer space for Buddhists or Jews or Christians...why must it be Muslim?" The correspondent even brought up how one of the landing gear of one of the planes ended up on the site of the planned mosque [audio clips available here].
Feyrick conducted her hardball interview of el-Gamel at his New York City office. The CNN correspondent almost immediately launched into her prayer space question. When the real estate developer initially replied, "There are Jewish community centers all over the country," Feyerick interrupted with a sharp retort: "But the Jews didn't take down two towers." El-Gamel continued that "there are YMCA's all over the country," but she gave a similar reply: "But the Christians didn't take down two towers."
The journalist followed up with the issue of the planned mosque's proximity to the Ground Zero and mentioned the plane wreckage that ended up on the site: "For those who are so- still sensitive and so raw to this, their question- their overriding question is, why here? Why so close? It's two blocks, but it was close enough that landing gear ended up on the roof. Why?"