Appearing in the 2:00PM ET hour on MSNBC, New York Daily News reporter Samuel Goldsmith cited a poll featured on the paper's website, about opposition to the Ground Zero mosque: "[it] shows that 70% of New Yorkers say that they think the opposition is out of hatred and religious intolerance."
Unfortunately, Goldsmith forgot to mention that it was a completely unscientific poll that only appeared within articles on the topic and allowed people to potentially vote numerous times. The slanted poll question read: "Is opposition to the building of a mosque near Ground Zero intolerant?" The three responses offered were: "Yes, it's pure religious bigotry against Muslims; No, you can be against because it dishonors victims of Sept. 11; Maybe, but the sensitive thing to do is to move it further from the WTC site."
Goldsmith touted the Daily News poll after anchor Jeff Rossen cited a scientific poll on the issue: "A new Siena College poll suggests – and we actually have the results right here – that 63% of New Yorkers oppose this Islamic center. Only 23% support it." After promoting the unreliable online poll, Goldsmith argued: "...there's a lot of voices coming out....It's hard to really get a grasp of what the public opinion is, I think."
[Update, 8:10 pm EDT: The original version of this article identified Roland Martin as a "black talk radio host." He no longer has his own radio talk show. He is still a CNN contributor, columnist syndicated by Creators Syndicate, and analyst for for the Tom Joyner Morning Show, according to his own website.]
On Tuesday's Anderson Cooper 360, CNN contributor Roland Martin strongly pushed for the Democrats to "stand up and protect the Constitution" by defending the planned New York City mosque near Ground Zero: "Democrats should get some spine and say, 'You know what? I am sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution.'...Stay strong- say it's about the Constitution."
Substitute anchor John Roberts brought on Martin, along with Republican strategist Ed Rollins and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, to discuss the continuing controversy surrounding the mosque project. The anchor first turned to the former black talk radio host and asked, "Roland, is this the sort of thing that Democrats want to be talking about right now, at a point where many people form their opinions of who they're going to vote for in November?" Martin didn't begin with his "constitutional" argument, but instead emphasized that Democratic candidates needed to focus on local issues: "Frankly, if I'm a Democrat and somebody comes to me with that question...I say, 'Hey, go talk to...the folks representing New York. I'm here talking about my district.'"
On December 8 of last year, at some point before hitting the "print" button, someone at the New York Times decided that a story about what has since become known as the Ground Zero Mosque needed to be reworked.
Earlier that day, the Times published an online powder-puff piece by reporters Ralph Blumenthal and Sharaf Mowjood about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's GZM plans. The pair's story was revised before it went to print, and the online version was changed ("Muslim Prayers and Renewal Near Ground Zero," with a web page title bar that reads "Muslim Prayers Fuel Spiritual Rebuilding Project Near Ground Zero") to mirror it. It's even puffier.
Several bloggers posted about the pair's online original when it appeared. A few, including Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs and Ben Muessig at The Gothamist, excerpted some or all of the key paragraphs shown on the left below (bold in the third paragraph is mine). On the right is how that segment went to print on December 9 (link is to hard-to-read enlarged scan of that day's front page, where the story's opening paragraphs appeared near its bottom right), and how it currently appears online:
Grossman explained that the comparison stems from conservatives who pointed out an incident in the early 1990s when Pope John Paul II halted a planned convent near the Auschwitz concentration camp. The nuns had every right to build the convent, but it was unwise and insensitive to do so, leading the pontiff to scrap the plan. By way of analogy, Muslims have every right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, but the insensitivity of doing so blocks from the site of the deadliest radical Islamic terror attack in U.S. history should lead Muslim leaders to call for the project to be scrapped.
But Grossman then went on to quote two liberals who reject the Auschwitz analogy as invalid before she conflated the Ground Zero mosque issue with isolated incidents across the country where other folks are raising NIMBY objections to mosques in their hometowns (emphasis Grossman's):
So last night on the show, Andy Levy pointed out that the person representing the Ground Zero mosque on Twitter made a few jabs at the Amish.
This is what the Tweeter tweeted:
Amish saying stop Muslims?1. What are you doing on the computer? 2. That's not very Amish 3. Shouldn't you be making butter?
Later, that tweet was deleted.
Which is a shame, because it didn't have to go. See, the Mosque folks don't understand that here in America you can make fun of any religion - yes, even the Amish - and angry followers won't throw acid in your face or behead you in front of a tripod. And, as primitive as the Amish are, they won't even stone you to death for adultery. But the tweeting Park51 can be forgiven: maybe they thought the Amish might head out from Lancaster County and fly a buggy straight into their building. Don't worry, "Parky:" they wouldn't get the horses through the Lincoln Tunnel.
The director of Al-Arabiya TV, a popular Arab-language news station, wrote that "Muslims never asked for" the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, and "do not care about its construction," in a column for London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on Aug. 16.
“I can't imagine that Muslims [actually] want a mosque at this particular location, because it will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monument to those who committed the crime,” wrote Al-Arabiya director Abd Al-Rahman al-Rashid in the column, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “Moreover, there are no practicing Muslims in the area who need a place to worship, because it is a commercial district. Is there anyone who is [really] eager [to build] this mosque?”
Al-Rashid said that President Barack Obama’s support of the mosque was similar to the administration’s previous decision to close Guantanamo Bay and try suspected terrorists as civilians. “"Muslims do not [really] yearn [to build] a mosque near the 9/11 cemetery, nor do they care whether bin Laden's cook is tried in a civilian court [or a military one],” said al-Rashid, noting that “tens of thousands of Muslims, likewise accused of extremism, are imprisoned in [even] worse conditions in the Muslim countries.”
While teasing an upcoming report on President Obama campaigning for Democrats on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge touted: "...plunging poll numbers haven't stopped the President from raking in millions at fund raisers across the country."
Later, White House correspondent Chip Reid observed: "You know, the President's approval rating is only 44%, but he is still quite popular with the party's base and he's using that clout to raise millions of dollars for fellow Democrats." Reid went on to declare: "President Obama and the Democratic Party are managing to raise big bucks in the hope of retaining control of Congress. The Democratic National Committee is committing $50 million to help candidates in 2010, $20 million in cash, and $30 million to get out the vote."
A campaign sound bite was played of the President attacking Republicans: "We do not fear the future. We shape the future. That's part of what this election's about. The other side wants you to be afraid of the future." Reid concluded: "President Obama is doing six fund-raisers over three days in five states. By week's end, he'll have raised over $56 million this campaign season."
Only at the end of his report did Reid briefly notice the money raised by the GOP: "Now, Republicans are also raking in the cash this campaign season. The Republican Governors Association, for example, has brought in $58 million since President Obama came into office."
There is a new media meme rearing its ugly head in the many discussions of the Ground Zero Mosque. A number of journalists seem to be suggesting that if critics oppose the construction of the Mosque, they should also be incensed by the presence of strip clubs, bars, and an off-track betting location in the area.
"Just How 'Hallowed' is the Ground Near Ground Zero?" asks Time Magazine's Madison Gray. "New York Doll's Gentleman's Club, and the Pussycat Lounge are two strip clubs that sit within a block of Ground Zero, but are not seen as a threat to the land's hallowed nature," Gray added. "So it seems to some, freedom of religion might be a problem, but a $10 lap dance is not."
Gee, could it have anything to do with the fact that pole dancers didn't fly planes into the twin towers? For some, the right to build a mosque and the move's moral implications are two distinct issues, and $10 lap dances have exactly nothing to do with either.
Yesterday, organizers of the Ground Zero mosque project took to Twitter to slam Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, after the paper incorrectly reportedthat plans for the controversial Islamic prayer center were being abandoned.
But some say the mosque's organizers went too far by mocking Ha'aretz with references to Jewish culture.
"On a side note, if Haaretz likes publishing fables, perhaps they could go back to the Yiddish ones with parables #welikethosebetter," Tweeted Park51, which calls itself the "official Twitter account" of the Ground Zero mosque project. Yiddish is a language that originated with and was used primarily by the Ashkenazi Jewish community in Eastern Europe.
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered a "Special Comment" in which he invoked Nazi Germany and suggested that blocking construction of a mosque near Ground Zero could be the first of a "thousand steps" toward another holocaust. He also hinted at a moral equivalence between the Islamic Empire’s conquests and America’s expansion into the lands of Native Americans as he attempted to discredit former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s concerns about the choice of "Cordoba House" as the original name planned for the mosque as being intentionally symbolic of a Muslim victory at Ground Zero.
After starting his "Special Comment" by quoting Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous words about the Holocaust of World War II, he at first tried to make his rant sound more moderate as he contended that, "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." He added: "Such a comparison is ludicrous – at least, it is now."
But the Countdown host was still alarmist enough to fear the mosque controversy could lead in that horrific direction. Olbermann: "Niemoller was not warning of the Holocaust. He was warning of the thousand steps before a holocaust became inevitable. If we are at merely the first of those steps again today, it is one step too close."
As President Obama struggled to step back from what the New York Times called a “strong defense” of the Ground Zero Mosque proposal, Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg felt the president’s pain in a Sunday "Political Memo" article, arguing that his shifting stands on the issue betray that this debate “is riskier for him than for his predecessors.” Stolberg wrote this is because his enemies want to live in a white, Christian-dominated country:
From the moment he took the oath of office, using his entire name, Barack Hussein Obama, as he swore to protect and defend the Constitution, Mr. Obama has personified the hopes of many Americans about tolerance and inclusion. He has devoted himself to reaching out to the Muslim world, vowing, as he did in Cairo last year, "a new beginning."
But his "new beginning" has aroused nervousness in some, especially those who disagree with his counterterrorism policies, or those more comfortable with a vision of America as a white and largely Christian nation, and not the pluralistic melting pot Mr. Obama represents.
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:
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."
Joe Scarborough on Monday bashed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for saying the building of the Ground Zero mosque would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.
Scarborough was responding to the following from Sunday's New York Times:
Mr. Gingrich said the proposed mosque would be a symbol of Muslim "triumphalism" and that building the mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks "would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum."
The next day on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Scarborough let Gingrich have it:
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.
Jim Pinkerton on Saturday cited a Culture and Media Institute article about the hypocritical reporting of the proposed Ground Zero mosque.
On Thursday, CMI's Alana Goodman noted in a piece cross-posted at sister site NewsBusters:
Ground Zero mosque organizer Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been described by the media as a "moderate" and a "bridge-builder." But not too long ago, the same news outlets gave identical labels to a radical Virginia mosque that has been linked to some of the most infamous Islamic terrorist attacks in recent years.
When the discussion on Saturday's "Fox News Watch" moved to the Ground Zero mosque, Pinkerton brought this up (video follows with transcript):
When reporting on the nationality of a criminal from another country who has already been arrested, it normally would be considered unnecessary or even uncalled for to take the extra step of explicitly identifying the suspect’s ethnicity or religious affiliation as well. But, given that Israelis, the vast majority of whom are Jewish, often face sharp criticism and negative press reaction over conflicts with their Arab neighbors – inflaming anti-Semitic sentiment – if an Israeli citizen who is non-Jewish is implicated in a violent crime, informing viewers that he is non-Jewish would seem to be in order.
But so far in the media coverage of serial stabber Elias Abuelazam’s arrest, some major news shows on both broadcast and news networks have avoided explicitly informing viewers that he is not a Jewish Israeli, while others have been more upfront with viewers on the subject. CNN’s The Situation Room, the NBC Nightly News, FNC’s Fox and Friends, and CBS’s The Early Show all have directly relayed to viewers at least once that Abuelazam is an Israeli Arab. But ABC’s World News, the CBS Evening News, FNC’s Fox Report, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN’s American Morning and NBC’s Today show have all avoided such a direct identification of ethnicity.
Ground Zero mosque organizer Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been described by the media as a "moderate" and a "bridge-builder." But not too long ago, the same news outlets gave identical labels to a radical Virginia mosque that has been linked to some of the most infamous Islamic terrorist attacks in recent years. And it celebrated in the same terms a "prayer-leader" who is now one of the most wanted Al Queda terrorists in the world.
The Washington Post reported on the Dar al-Hijrah mosque 30 times from Sept. 11, 1983, to Sept. 11, 2001, and the big news stories about the prayer center were its popular summer camp, its charitable activities and its joyful celebrations of Muslim holidays.
But to federal investigators and watchdog groups, the big news about the Dar al-Hijrah mosque was that it was a magnet for some of the top names in terrorism - most recently including the Sept. 11 hijackers and the Fort Hood shooter.
The mosque's former imam, Anwar Al Awlaki has been tied to numerous terror attacks in the U.S., and is now serving as a top Al Qaeda leader in Yemen. Al Awlaki will be shot on sight if he is tracked down by the U.S. military, under an order given by President Obama this past April.
CNN's Rick Sanchez bizarrely wondered on Tuesday's Rick List whether investigating the funding behind the planned mosque near Ground Zero would lead to investigations into Catholic and/or Mormon funding: "If you start going into who is giving money...you've got to go to Rome and start asking where the money is going into Rome....and you have to go the Mormons and ask...what are they doing with their money? [audio clips available here]
Sanchez posed that vaguely morally relativistic question as he interviewed former New York Governor George Pataki during the prime-time edition of his program 14 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour. Before bringing on his guest, the CNN anchor inquired whether the opponents of the proposed Islamic center/mosque had become extreme: "Are those against this Islamic center/mosque in New York City going too far these days? I want to you decide as you look at this new ad that's going to be running on city buses in New York. On one side, as you look at this, you will see that there's a picture of a mosque- on the other side, a shot of a plane that's slamming into the Twin Towers, and it poses this question: why there? The ad is being sponsored by a group that's called The American Freedom Defense Initiative."
After noting former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and current mayor Michael Bloomberg's support for the mosque, Sanchez introduced Pataki and first asked him, "Why are they [Koch and Bloomberg] wrong and why are you right?" After the Republican explained his opposition, the anchor gave his first hint to his later Catholic/Mormon question: "Once you start telling someone you can't worship here because it affects the sensibilities or sensitivities of someone else, you're starting to go down a slippery slope, and then a lot of people would ask- well, which religion is next? Who else are we going to not let worship where they want, how they want?"
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."
More in sorrow than in anger, I'm about to record a personal blogging first: airing a gripe about Willie Geist. When writing of the Morning Joe sidekick, my habit is to append adjectives such as "affable." Willie is indeed a likable guy, patently comfortable in his own skin. And while I don't suspect him of being a closet conservative, neither is he anything of a raging liberal, typically striking a regular-guy's middle ground on most issues.
All of which makes his comment of today that much more surprising—and regrettable. Geist was commenting on an ad by an anti-Ground Zero mosque group to be displayed on NYC buses, which shows a plane flying into one of the WTC towers. Although defending the anti-mosque group's rights, Willieopined that it's "always in bad taste to show the plane flying into the building." Really?
The ad was illuminating for another, chilling, reason . . .
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."
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.
Time magazine's Joe Klein has a penchant for self-righteous bluster in his writing, particularly, it seems, when he's smacking around adherents of his Jewish faith who happen to disagree with him politically. Klein can't seem to let his wrath take a respite, as witnessed by a sabbath-day posting on Time's Swampland blog.
Klein lit into Abraham Foxman of the ADL in a Saturday morning blog post for his opposition to a planned Islamic center just blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan (emphases mine):
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.