On Friday in its 7 a.m. Eastern hour, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" headlined Thursday's congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims – but only played clips of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim-American who represents only one side of the issue. The show then interviewed him for nine minutes, a lengthy interview for one person on the morning show.
While Ellison received some tough questions, no clips were played of Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who is chairing the hearings, nor of Melvin Bledsoe or of Abdirizak Bihi, witnesses who testified about loved ones who were radicalized by Islamic extremists. Bihi's nephew joined a Somali Islamic militia while Bledsoe's son allegedly shot up an armed forces recruiting center in Arkansas.
Later on in the 8 a.m. Eastern hour of the show, "Morning Joe" hosted liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson to discuss the hearings. Robinson dismissed King's hearings in his March 11 column entitled "A Modern-Day Witch Hunt."
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, following a report that portrayed congressional hearings on radical Islam as bigoted political theater, correspondent Seth Doane profiled a Muslim family in Tennessee and suggested they were indirect victims of the testimony on Capitol Hill: "The Sbenaty family is getting tired of defending their religion."
Anchor Katie Couric introduced Doane's report this way: "...most of the more than two and a half million Muslims living in this country want it known they are patriotic Americans." As if the hearings somehow accused all American Muslims of being unpatriotic. Doane began by proclaiming: "Every morning at his Murfreesboro, Tennessee, middle school 14-year-old Salim Sbenaty honors his country [by saying the Pledge of Allegiance]. But today, while he was taking his English exam, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were examining extremists within his religion, Islam."
Amid the media's vilification of Rep. Peter King, their continuing coverage of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison's "tearful struggle" stands in stark contrast.
"Amid the raw feelings of Thursday's House hearings on domestic Islamic radicalization, Rep. Keith Ellison could not fight back the tears" as he recounted a story about Mohammed Salman Hamdani. Rep. Ellison "choked up and spoke haltingly of how some tried to 'smear' Hamdani because of his faith," declared the Minneapolis Star Tribune on March 10. The manner in which Hamdani was defamed, and the identities of the guilty, has remained ambiguous to date.
Echoing Rep. Ellison's Twitter post "America is big enuf for all of us," USA Today declared "Rep. Keith Ellison" has made it clear "America is big enough for us all." Cursorily noting that "Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y. vowed not to bow to 'political correctness,'" it went on to give an in-depth reaction provided by a talk show host based out of Minnesota: "As I was wiping my tears," she said, "I was thinking what is it about my faith that is not being accepted as an American? My faith? My scarf? My ethnicity?"
Absent from all of the media's coverage of Rep. Ellison's weeping is the Title 1 of Section 102 in the Patriot Act passed by Congress after 9/11:
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes implied that the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims was simply a political show put on by committee chairman Peter King: "Ignoring calls from Democrats to cancel his hearing...King embarked on the inquiry in a room newly decorated with fiery images from 9/11."
Cordes later declared that "King's own past assertion that most U.S. mosques are run by radicals" resulted in "poisoning the atmosphere" of the hearing. She remarked on how King's "relations with Muslim leaders there [in his Long Island, NY district] deteriorated after 9/11." A sound bite was then featured of Dr. Faroque Kahn of the Islamic Center of Long Island, who labeled King a "Muslim-basher."
Two men testified yesterday before a U.S. House of Representatives panel about how their loved ones were radicalized by Islamist extremists and how local mosque leaders did nothing to help alert U.S. authorities of the potential danger.
Yet accounts of their testimony were buried in the Washington Post's front page March 11 story about the Homeland Security Committee's March 10 hearings formally entitled an inquiry into "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response."
CNN's Deborah Feyerick performed a cut-and-paste job on Thursday's Newsroom by partially re-running a biased report from September 2010 on the apparent rise of "Islamophobia" in the United States. Just as before, all but one of Feyerick's sound bites during her report came from those who were worried about the supposed "intensifying hostility and rise in hate speech" against Muslims.
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux introduced the correspondent's report, which ran 40 minutes into the 12 pm Eastern hour, by putting it in the context of Rep. Peter King's hearings into the radicalization of American Muslims: "King says his radicalization of Islam hearing is going to help protect America from a terrorist attack. Well, critics, they call it a witch hunt. One of the concerns is that it is going to cause more Americans to fear and hate Muslims. Our Deborah Feyerick reports Islamophobia is on the rise." A chyron echoed Malveaux's last sentence: "Islamophobia on the Rise."
As NewsBusters has been reporting since last week, the media have been in full panic mode over hearings the House Homeland Security committee was scheduled to have concerning the radicalization of American Muslims.
At the conclusion of the first hearing Thursday, Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) gave a brief statement criticizing what he called the "mindless hysteria" of the press in the weeks leading up to this day (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MSNBC's "panel" on today's hearings about radicalization of Muslim-Americans featured liberals Carl Bernstein and Cenk Uygur – with MSNBC's Richard Lui moderating. With no substantial conservative counterpoints to be offered, the two guests sounded their condemnations of the hearings as "cultural warfare" and bigotry.
Bernstein slammed the House inquiry as a joke and as a "debating society for cultural warfare." Referencing the institution's past for producing McCarthy-ite investigations, he compared the current hearings with the gladiatorial combat of the Roman coliseum.
"Now we have this question which is part of this coliseum-like atmosphere of cultural warfare," Bernstein spat.
Cenk Uygur turned up the invective knob to 11 when it was his turn to speak. He questioned whether Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, is a "real American."
One popular feature of "On Faith," the online religion news feature of the Washington Post and Newsweek, is the "Guest Voices" column. They are typically short blog posts written by non-staff writers about an item in the news with a religious angle.
MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell on Thursday brought the specter of bigotry into Representative Peter King's hearings on the threat of radical Islam in America. While interviewing Congressman Dan Lungren of California she awkwardly hinted, "Well, you know, you and I are both white."
The irritated Republican wondered, "What does that mean?" Mitchell lectured, "I'm just asking, get in their heads for a second and try to think about how it is to be a Muslim-American facing these kinds- this kind of testimony today. That's all I want to know."
In an earlier segment, the Andrea Mitchell Reports host casually insisted that the hearings are "a great lesson against the dangers of over-generalizing, of generalizing at all about particular groups."
An NPR correspondent recently went incognito for a sting operation aimed at exposing U.S. border agents who target Muslims for "interrogation" at the Canadian border.
Employing the same tactics used by James O'Keefe to bring down top NPR executives, counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston draped herself in a headscarf, drove to the northern border, and recorded her encounter with a U.S. border agent. [Click here for audio.]
"An agent from Customs and Border Protection was sitting in what looked like a little toll booth," recalled Temple-Raston on the March 10 Morning Edition, who gave the agent no indication that he was being recorded. "He asked me to remove my sunglasses and peered into the car. I was wearing a headscarf and so was Kathy Jamil. He asked why we'd been to Canada."
CNN seemed to fear the worst before Thursday's hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, pressing committee chair Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on his stance toward radical Islam with the shadow of Joseph McCarthy looming in the background.
CNN correspondent Dana Bash asked King, the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, if he was "obsessed" with radical Islam, and what he thought about being compared to Joseph McCarthy. Her exclusive video interview with the congressman was aired multiple times Wednesday on the network.
In a voice-over, Bash reported that the hearing appears "to some, akin to Joseph McCarthy's 1950's communist witch hunt." She then asked a question of the congressman in real-time, this much of which was included in the segment: "Peter King is the modern day Joseph McCarthy?" Bash was probably alluding to the thoughts of King's critics, and was asking him for his reaction.
On ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday, co-host George Stephanopoulos fretted over congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims being "potentially explosive" and that "Critics are already calling this a witch hunt." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Hearings on Islamic Radicals: Witch Hunt or Reality Check?"
ABC was not alone in touting the "witch hunt" accusation. On CBS's Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes described how "already foes [of the hearings] are calling them discriminatory and a witch-hunt." On NBC's Today, co-host Meredith Vieira introduced a report on the hearings by noting how "critics say it amounts to a witch hunt."
New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein made Tuesday’s front page with an attack on Brigitte Gabriel, an activist who warns against the dangers of radical Islam in the United States: “Drawing U.S. Crowds With Anti-Islam Message.”
Interestingly, the piece is datelined Fort Worth, Texas, suggesting much of the relevant reporting was done last fall – Gabriel spoke to a Tea Party event in Fort Worth in September 2010, and Goodstein’s story includes a photo of Gabriel speaking at “a Tea Party event in September.”
Did some of this story come out of the freezer? It was surely released today to intersect with Rep. Peter King’s hearings on Islamic radicalism which begin on Thursday, but which the Times already bashed in its lead editorial today. The editors pointed an accusing finger at King: “Not much spreads fear and bigotry faster than a public official intent on playing the politics of division.”
Recently, the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) released a video showing a group of protestors exhibiting anti-Muslim sentiments outside an ICNA fundraising dinner. Liberal media outlets ran with the press release as a way to highlight bigotry towards Muslims, with the video showing up on The Guardian, Think Progress, Salon, Mediaite, Huffington Post, and Hillary Clinton’s source for ‘real news’, Al Jazeera. Problem being, the video and press release is so wrought with false statements, distortions, and a cut and paste documentary style, it could have passed as a Michael Moore film.
Naturally, these news outlets casually gloss over the ICNA’s controversial ties to radical clerics, terrorist organizations, and the implementation of Sharia law. Outlined previously, the group has hosted events with such speakers as radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and one of the keynote speakers at this particular fundraiser. Additionally, the group has documented ties to Hamas, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
All facts which seemingly bear little relevance as to why there would be a protest in the first place. But even beyond an exploration of reasons behind the protest, is concern that these media outlets would present a distorted video as evidence of anything other than their own journalistic malpractice.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein decried an upcoming congressional hearing on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism Monday, saying that Christians engage in violence as well but are not investigated by Congress. Klein lambasted the investigation, led by the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), as an attention-grabbing ploy to demonize the American Muslim community.
"We've had school shootings from young Christians," Klein claimed on Monday's "Morning Joe." He added that there are "neo-Nazis who claim they're Christians. Is the Christian community in America so deeply vulnerable to neo-Nazis?"
Klein's point was not that Christians in America deserve an investigation by Congress, but rather that the Muslim community should not be singled out for acts of terrorism, and that they are not so vulnerable to be influenced by extremism from abroad. However, he failed to provide a single instance of violence that was itself motivated by a radical strand of Christianity.
Mark Potok of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center claimed on Monday's Newsroom on CNN that radical Islam wasn't "our biggest domestic terror threat," that instead, "that pretty clearly comes from the radical right in this country." Anchor Suzanne Malveaux touted Potok as "expert on extremism" from "one of the most highly regarded non-governmental operations that are monitoring hate groups."
Malveaux brought on the SPLC spokesman at the bottom of the 12 noon Eastern hour to discuss the upcoming hearings by the House Homeland Security Committee on the radicalization of American Muslims. The anchor first asked him, "From your study of tracking radical groups, potentially hate groups, what do you think of this hearing? Is al Qaeda radicalizing Muslims? Is that our biggest homegrown terrorism threat right now?"
Potok replied with his "radical right" claim, and went on to criticize the chairman of the House committee, Rep. Peter King:
Dan Gilgoff played up the Islamic community's concerns over upcoming congressional hearings on "the radicalization of American Muslims" in a Friday article on CNN.com. Gilgoff quoted Muslims 12 times in his article, versus only 3 times for Rep. Peter King, who will be convening the hearings, and omitted mentioning actual terrorist incidents from recent years that involved native-born or naturalized Muslims.
Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's federal minister for minorities and that government's only Christian, was assassinated yesterday on the streets of Islamabad. Bloomberg News is reporting that the Pakistan Taliban is claiming responsibility for the shooting:
As many as four men ambushed Shahbaz Bhatti, a 42-year-old Christian, yesterday as he left home without a security escort, Geo television reported, citing a police official, Bin Yamin. Bhatti was dead when brought to the city’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the institution’s spokesman, Azmatullah Quraishi, said by telephone.
Television channels showed leaflets found at the scene in which the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for killing Bhatti. They said he was targeted for heading a government- appointed committee to review the blasphemy law, which prescribes the death penalty for anyone convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Bhatti, a Roman Catholic and former leader of Pakistan’s main minority-rights group, was killed eight weeks after Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was shot to death by one of his bodyguards. Both men had called publicly for changes to the [nation's blasphemy] law.
ABC, NBC and CBS news programs have mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood 135 times in 17 years, but only linked them to fundamentalist Islam 37 percent of the time. Just since the unrest in Egypt began in January, they've mentioned the Brotherhood 85 times, and decreased how often they report the nature of the group - just 32 percent of those stories mentioned the group's extremism.
Declaring "jihad" against the United States. Taking credit for deadly bombings in Cairo. Sponsoring Hamas. Assassinating Egyptian leaders. Making common cause with Nazi Germany. Openly calling for shariah law. Spawning prominent al-Qaida leaders.
Only the liberal network news media could paint a group with a resume like that as "peaceful" and "moderate." But that's precisely how the broadcast networks have often portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Don Lemon helped film director Qasim Basir promote his new film "Mooz-lum," which he hopes will "clear up some of this ignorance" about Muslims and their religion. Basir, whose last project "aimed at supporting presidential candidate Barack Obama," claimed that "in an average person's mind, who does not know anybody that's Muslim, it's like you see Muslim, you think terrorist."
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux introduced Lemon's segment, which ran 39 minutes into the 12 pm Eastern hour, as part of her network's "What Matters" series, which is a partnership with Essence magazine. Malveaux played up the film's "strong African-American cast and director," and stated that her colleague "sat down with the director Qasim Basir to talk about the movie, and the state of Muslims in America." An on-screen graphic signaled the primary focus of Lemon's interview: "Religion + Intolerance: Don Lemon, Qasim Bair discuss 'Mooz-lum.'"
As the mainstream media have reported on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s beliefs, failing to pick up on contradictory claims by its leaders that the Islamist group opposes terrorism, also ignored was the role that the Muslim Brotherhood has long played in fomenting anti-Jew hatred in the Middle East. After Nazi Germany financed and helped build up the previously struggling Brotherhood in the 1930s and 1940s, the group disseminated anti-Jew propaganda and inspired the kind of persecution that sent almost a million Jewish refugees fleeing violence, confiscation of property, and expulsion in Muslim countries between the 1940s and the 1970s. Some even estimate that the land confiscated from Jewish residents in Muslim countries amounts to four times or even five times the total area of the state of Israel. A number of Muslim countries saw their Jewish populations almost completely erased, including Egypt where the number dwindled from about 100,000 Jews to only a couple of hundred.
Even somewhat recently, Brotherhood leaders have made such incendiary statements as praising Adolf Hitler to declaring that Muslims should stop fighting each other and fight against Israel instead. As previously documented by NewsBusters, an interview on CNN's Parker-Spitzer helped reveal the tendency of Muslim Brotherhood leaders to twist the meaning of words, as one leader claimed that the group opposes terrorism and violence but then suggested that Palestinian militants are not engaged in terrorism against Israel but instead "resistance," which he rationalized. He also refused to give a straight answer on whether the group would support adherence to Egypt’s treaty with Israel.
But on the January 31 NBC Nightly News, not picking up on Muslim Brotherhood wordplay, correspondent Richard Engel claimed, "The Muslim Brotherhood denounces terrorism, but supports Islamic law, is anti-Israel, and opposes U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East."
The Taliban is no longer in power, but the U.S.-supported government in Afghanistan has a long way to go towards supporting freedom of conscience for its people.
Take the plight of one Said Musa, who faces a death sentence for daring to be an ex-Muslim. The convert to Christianity most likely will suffer the death penalty for the capital crime of "apostasy." Paul Marshall at National Review Online last week noted that:
Bill Maher and Tavis Smiley got into a heated debate Friday about the difference between the treatment of women in America versus in Muslim countries.
When Smiley continually asserted on HBO's "Real Time" that women are maltreated here, Maher said, "It's such bulls--t," and eventually ended the discussion by scolding the PBS host, "When you tolerate intolerance, you’re not really being a liberal” (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
One of the largest Muslim organizations in North America is considering plans to build a summer camp on 114 acres of land in the Adirondacks. Via the Albany Times Union:
“The Islamic Circle of North America, a Muslim advocacy group based in New York City, hopes to raise money to develop a camp for children and families of all religions on land donated to it last year.”
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), based in Queens, New York, is not devoid of controversy in a history that spans over 40 years, yet there is scant mention of these controversies by the media. The Times Union article states that, “U.S. law enforcement agencies have investigated, but never prosecuted, ICNA for terrorist connections.” And there is coverage of a fundraiser involving speakers having made anti-American statements in the past, which is quickly justified by saying, “the meeting raised money for homeless women.”
But the ICNA has so much more to offer in the way of newsworthiness, including an event involving radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as a link to the presently relevant Muslim Brotherhood.
If you had to narrow it down to one person, the mainstream media's favorite evangelical Christian would probably be the politically liberal Richard Cizik.
The former National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) vice president resigned from the NAE in December 2008 after having made public statements to the effect that gay marriage and abortion were politically negotiable issues for Christians of good conscience. Before then he was actively involved in getting evangelical Christians to align with liberals on global warming-related legislative initiatives.
Over the past couple of weeks, as prominent Muslim Brotherhood members tried to sell themselves as harmless in interviews shown on the evening newscasts on ABC, NBC, and CNN, Eliot Spitzer of CNN’s Parker-Spitzer managed to coax spokesman Mohammed Morsy into defending violence against Israel by Palestinians, contradicting the Brotherhood spokesman’s claims in the same interview of being opposed to violence.
Earlier in the interview, which was first seen on the Thursday, February 3 Parker-Spitzer, Morsy had also sidestepped the question of whether the Muslim Brotherhood would support adherence to Egypt’s 30-year treaty with Israel, as he suggested that such matters would be in the hands of the parliament.
CNN correspondent Mary Snow replayed some of the interview on the next day’s Situation Room on CNN. After a clip of Morsy claiming that his organization would support freedom for all religions in Egypt, the piece continued:
On Thursday’s Last Word show on MSNBC, host Lawrence O’Donnell trashed conservatives for raising concerns about the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt as the MSNBC host claimed that, "The Muslim Brotherhood is the latest excuse for the right wing to whip up anti-Islamic hysteria, including the old standby that President Obama is secretly a Muslim." Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, who appeared as a guest for the segment, even referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as a "scarecrow," and dismissed concerns about whether a new government might adhere to the peace treaty with Israel as the Democratic Congressman asserted that, "You haven’t seen one Israeli flag. You haven’t seen one."
But, while the overwhelming majority of Egyptian demonstrators may be motivated by a desire for better economic conditions and more freedom, it would be incorrect to claim that there is a complete absence of anti-Israel sentiment. On Sunday, January 30, the NBC Nightly News showed an image of one sign held by a protester that tied then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to Israel by placing the Jewish Star of David over his face. And, on Saturday, January 29, ABC's World News Saturday showed a second sign with a similar image of Mubarak with a smaller Star of David on his forehead, as if to attack the Egyptian leader as being too friendly to Israel and Jews.
On the Friday, January 28, NBC Nightly News, correspondent Richard Engel even recounted concerns by some Egyptians that the Muslim Brotherhood would "hijack" the anti-government movement to take power:
Tuesday's "Morning Joe" featured guest Daisy Khan, wife of Imam Rauf who tried to establish a mosque two blocks away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks. The panel praised Khan and her husband as peace-making moderates, and arrogantly questioned why more Americans couldn't accept the mosque at Ground Zero.
"America is the beacon of the world," co-host Mika Brzezinski said echoing Khan's earlier words affirming American freedom. "And yet, we had such a controversy about the community center that you and your husband were trying to start blocks away from Ground Zero," she added, questioning the American "understanding" of the center.
"One of the most depressing things to me was the fact that in 2010, Americans seemed to be less accepting of Muslim Americans than they were even in the months after 9/11," co-host Joe Scarborough lamented from his soapbox. "Why do you think we Americans had such a reaction – again, in New York, a place that's supposed to be the most open-minded and pluralistic?" he asked guest Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine.