Here's a fact you're not likely to see on tonight's evening news broadcasts: According to a recent poll, Arabs living abroad are more likely to be opposed to the "Ground Zero Mosque" than the American media are.
According to a recent survey by the Arabic online news service Elaph (Arabic version here), 58 percent of Arabs think the construction should be moved elsewhere. And according to a Media Research Center study released last week, 55 percent of network news coverage of the debate has come down on the pro-Mosque side.
The MRC study also found that on the question of whether opposition to the mosque demonstrated a widely held "Islamophobia" among Americans, 93 percent of network news soundbites answered ion the affirmative. In contrast, when asked whether the United States is a "tolerant" or "bigoted" society, 63 percent of Elaph respondents chose the former.
Disgraced former White House correspondent Helen Thomas will be receiving a lifetime achievement award next month from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Coming roughly three months after Thomas was forced to resign from Hearst Newspapers for disgustingly telling Israeli Jews to move back to Germany and Poland and "get the hell out of Palestine," this is clearly going to raise a lot of eyebrows especially with all the media's recent hyperventilation over so-called Islamophobia.
Consider how the following report from The Hill is going to play in an environment where the press are accusing Americans of being anti-Muslim (h/t Hot Air headlines):
This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America and offered a softball question to Hillary Clinton about her daughter's wedding. After discussing Middle East peace, Amanpour gushed, "And of all of the things you have undertaken over the last several months, was your daughter's wedding- where does that fit in there? And hard? Difficult?"
The ABC host was previewing a longer interview scheduled for Sunday's edition of This Week.
GMA co-host Robin Roberts cheered, "From the politicians hoping to make history in November, to one politician trying to make history right now."
Amanpour speculated as to whether Tea Party nominees would derail the administration's efforts in the Middle East: "Is it possible to have the President's foreign policy agenda, you know, furthered, even if a lot of Tea Party candidates do end up being the candidate [sic]?"
Appearing as a guest on Saturday’s Huckabee show on FNC, actor Jon Voight condemned Time magazine for the cover on its September 13 issue which provocatively displays the words "Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace" in the middle of a Star of David made from daisies. Voight charged that there must be anti-Semitism at Time magazine if such a cover could be devised. Voight:
Listen, if Israel falls we all fall. Did you see the Time magazine, did you guys see the Time magazine cover? Cover? It was amazing. Here's a cover with a Star of David on it, and it says Israel doesn't care about peace. ... But this is anti-Semitism. This is, who are the anti-Semites who are running Time magazine? And their prior cover, you know, they alluded to the Islamophobia, they're calling America Islamophobic.
As previously documented by NewsBusters, Time managing editor Richard Stengel bizarrely seemed to see a down side to fewer terrorist attacks against Israelis when he appeared on the Thursday, September 2, Morning Joe on MSNBC, as he suggested that it was a "sad truth" that the low level of recent violence from terrorists -- including the "Hamas folks" -- had made Israelis feel less urgency about negotiating with Palestinians. Stengel:
On Sunday’s syndicated Chris Matthews Show, after host Matthews asked if electing a President whose middle name was "Hussein" had "opened a door to better relations with the Arab and Islamic world. Or has it opened a door to more xenophobic American negativity?" the panel mostly agreed that Obama’s election was more of a "net plus" for America’s relations with the world's Muslim population. The Washington Post’s David Ignatius had a dissenting view that "President Obama raised expectations that there would be a different kind of America. That in itself could be dangerous."
After former CBS News anchor Dan Rather argued that "I think it's opened the door to both, but, on balance, and in the main, it's still a net plus in terms of the country's reputation," the BBC’s Katty Kay agreed and implicated President Bush in damaging America’s relations with the Muslim world. Kay: "I agree that it's a net plus, particularly when you compare it with what came before and the invasion of Iraq and how much of a problem that was for America's relations with the Middle East."
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell concurred: "I agree because after the invasion of Iraq and with this President and his multicultural background, it is a net plus."
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius then weighed in with a more pessimistic take:
Tuesday's Washington Post offered this study tidbit: "President Obama received far more favorable coverage from Arab television networks than on American newscasts during the first 18 months of his term."
Academics Stephen Farnsworth, Robert Lichter, and and Roland Schatz found the coverage on five Arab networks (including al-Jazeera and al-Arabiyah) was 7.9 percent more positive than negative, compared to 2.6 percent more positive on European networks and 7.9 percent more negative on the ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox evening newscasts.
"Reporting on the president's character was a major part of international news reports on Obama, and was an area where Obama was highly regarded," the study proclaims.
ABC's Claire Shipman waxed ecstatic over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday's Good Morning America, as she reported on Mrs. Clinton's efforts in the Middle Eastern peace process. Shipman exclaimed how the Secretary had a "distinct, quite public moment of triumph" in her meetings with leaders from both sides, and noted how Clinton has become an "international political celebrity."
Anchor George Stephanopoulos, former communications director for President Bill Clinton, introduced the correspondent's report, which aired 44 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour. Stephanopoulos noted past administrations' failure "to broker a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians" and then proclaimed how it was Mrs. Clinton's "turn to try to make diplomatic history." Shipman began by highlighting how Hillary "remains one of the most popular members of the administration" and how she was now "squarely center stage" with the possibility of bringing "something different to this Middle East process."
In Time Magazine Managing Editor Rick Stengel's mind, it's really "sad" that the wall between Israel and the West Bank - intended to keep murderous terrorists in the Palestinian territory - has been a success. Stengel apparently considers Isreali deaths worthwhile if they lead to more productive peace talks.
In a "Morning Joe" segment yesterday titled "Why Israel doesn't care about peace" - after the upcoming Time cover story - Stengel posited that the lack of violence in Isreal is responsible for that country's supposed reluctance to reach a peace deal. Stengel stated (video below the fold - h/t Jim Hoft):
They haven't had a car bombing in two and a half years. And the sad truth really is that the wall with the West Bank has actually worked. I mean, most Israelis in the course of their lives don't come into contact with any Palestinians at all. The wall is functioning. And the Gaza strip is so small and so isolated they feel that those folks, the Hamas folks are not that big of a threat...
I mean, the Israelis feel like, you know what? The status quo isn't so bad and we don't mind is there is no peace at all.
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, responding to conservatives who wanted President Obama to give more credit to President Bush for apparent successes in Iraq, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann sarcastically thanked the former President and charged that the war in Iraq was Bush’s "false war." He went on to claim that, "The neocons lied about Iraq to get us in there."
Guest Jeremy Scahill of the left-wing "The Nation" magazine joined in slamming President Bush and "neocons" for the Iraq war, claimed the troop surge did not play a significant role in stabilizing the country, and ended up asserting that Bush administration members who supported the invasion "shouldn't be able to leave their houses without being confronted with the death and destruction that their lies caused."
And, even though various news outlets reported on the presence of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Zarqawi in the country years before the 2003 invasion, Scahill claimed that "it was the Bush administration's policy in Iraq that created an al-Qaeda presence in that country."
But, as previously documented by NewsBusters, back in January 2003 and again in March 2004, the NBC Nightly News relayed claims that the Bush administration had "passed up several opportunities to take [Zarqawi] out well before the Iraq war began."
While MSNBC host Keith Olbermann was recently dismissive of conservatives for highlighting radical Islam’s persecution of homosexuals in some countries, the Countdown host also has a history of showing more interest in mocking conservatives who complain about the persecution of women by radical Muslims than of actually reporting on such mistreatment.
Last July, Olbermann ignored a story about an Iranian woman accused of adultery who was sentenced to death by stoning – a story carried by the NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News – but on September, 28, 2007, when conservative activist David Horowitz mistakenly cited an image from a movie as if it were taken from an actual stoning, the MSNBC host pounced to slam Horowitz, calling him a "right-wing fringer," naming him "Worst Person in the World," as he sarcastically mocked the conservative activist’s attempt to draw attention to such persecution. Olbermann:
The image is actually from a 1994 film made in Holland... [The actress] has made at least three appearances on Dutch TV since. Evidently she’s okay. But keep plugging away, Mr. Horowitz. Let’s keep spending billions of dollars to stoke up religious hatred and send our kids to their deaths on the battlefield so we can prevent Dutch actresses from having to do scenes in which their characters are buried alive in a movie. Right-wing water carrier David, "I saw it in the movies, it must be real," Horowitz, today’s "Worst Person in the World!"
By contrast, on July 8, 2010, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams set up a report about a woman who was awaiting the sentence of stoning to death in Iran, and treated the issue with the seriousness that it deserves:
Defenders of controversial imam Feisal Abdul Rauf have been touting his past efforts in offering counterterrorism advice to the FBI as a way to illustrate his bridge-building intentions. Much like other reports, they tend to gloss over the more controversial aspects of Rauf's statements. But, as is typical with the Ground Zero mosque imam, it can be demonstrated that he is frequently speaking with a forked tongue.
There is no doubt that Rauf has made some questionable and incendiary comments regarding America and her role in the Muslim world. Perhaps these statements fit the imam's overall rhetoric involving U.S. complicity in the attacks of 9/11. As does the following statement to the FBI, which is conveniently omitted from media reports defending Rauf.
Bridge-building imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was giving a crash course in Islam for FBI agents in March of 2003. When asked to clarify such terminology as ‘jihad' and ‘fatwa', Rauf stated (emphasis mine throughout):
"Jihad can mean holy war to extremists, but it means struggle to the average Muslim. Fatwah has been interpreted to mean a religious mandate approving violence, but is merely a recommendation by a religious leader. Rauf noted that the U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks could be considered a jihad, and pointed out that a renowned Islamic scholar had issued a fatwah advising Muslims in the U.S. military it was okay to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan."
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used a clip of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Tim Osborn, stationed in Iraq, commenting on how he had previously felt that the war in Iraq "wasn’t ever going to stop," to fit into the Countdown host’s suggestion that American troops had remained in Iraq too long. But what Olbermann did not show his viewers is that Staff Sergeant Osborn had also expressed strong support for the war effort in a clip which was shown earlier that evening on the NBC Nightly News during a piece which correspondent Richard Engel filed from Iraq:
RICHARD ENGEL: He tells me his greatest accomplishment: giving Iraqis a chance.
STAFF SERGEANT TIM OSBORN, U.S. ARMY: If what was going on here was going on in America, I wouldn't want my kids to grow up in that world. I would want somebody else to come in and help. And if it took them doing what we did here, then I would welcome that.
But Olbermann was apparently only interested in using a clip of Staff Sergeant Osborn that would fit into the MSNBC host’s characteristic anti-war shtick:
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."
So there was Robert Gibbs on the White House lawn, defending to Mika Brzezinski the letter from the Obama administration saying it favored a compassionate release of the Lockerbie bomber over a prisoner transfer. Oh, wait. That wasn't the White House press secretary—it was Chuck Todd. Sorry about that. But when you view the video I think you might forgive my error. Todd certainly came across like a paid administration flack . . .
In the course of his conversation with Mika on today's Morning Joe, Todd labelled "outlandish" the depiction by the Sunday Times of London of the US position as "double-talk." As Mika continued to press the case, suggesting the US could simply have expressed its implacable opposition to any form of release, Todd complained that it was "easy to back-seat drive" the Obama admin's handling of the matter. Perhaps most laughably, Todd defended the Obama admin's "delicate" diplomacy by claiming "any administration" would have done the same and raising the what-if of another country trying to tell our government what to do. You mean, like Pres. Obama's moves to close Gitmo and take other measures weakening US national security because other countries have complained about them?
Mango diplomacy, maybe. Mango defense, not so much.
It would be much less disconcerting to say the above headline is a joke, ripped from the headlines of The Onion. But alas, it is frighteningly accurate.
Hillary Clinton recently lauded the benefits of Pakistani mangos in a discussion of better trade cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As Reuters reports, "Hillary Clinton has lots to worry about in Pakistan, but she has found one thing she can wholeheartedly embrace: Pakistani mangos ... Clinton suggested mangos might be one place to start when discussing benefits of better trade cooperation, including Pakistani requests for improved market access."
But an analysis (emphasis mine) of Clinton's economic recovery efforts via CNN's Reza Sayah, defies explanation, and require a tremendous leap in logic from economic benefits, to military benefits (h/t Weasel Zippers via Michelle Malkin):
Well, I think the U.S., the Obama administration, is convinced that this is the right approach. In addition to the military approach, you have to have an economic approach. They say it's an interesting project here. If Mrs. Clinton has her way in the months and years to come, Pakistan will export more of its delicious and very juicy mangoes. Americans will eat them. It will all be a part of the fight against militants.
The Israeli commandos who intercepted a flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip on May 31 were cleared of wrongdoing by a military inquiry into the matter. The same panel faulted the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for "mistakes that were made in decisions, including some taken at relatively high levels," according to retired Israeli Major General Giora Eiland.
While we at NewsBusters have taken Reuters to task before for their biased coverage of the Middle East, the news wire actually broke from the pack a bit in its portrayal of the story, focusing on the conclusion that there was no wrongdoing by the Israelis in the now infamous raid.
By contrast, the Washington Post and Associated Press opened their stories focused on the negative. Below are the lede paragraphs for the respective news agencies:
CNN fired an editor for expressing "a lot [of] respect" for a Hezbollah leader the US had designated a terrorist. So how has ABC dealt with someone with similar views? By hiring her and awarding her the prestigious plum of host of This Week.
So what's the difference between Octavia Nasr and Christiane Amanpour? Not much, says Cal Thomas, when it comes to their views. It's just that Amanpour is too smart and sophisticated to stick her views on a Tweet.
Thomas shared his insight on this weekend's editon of Fox News Watch.
AOL News contributor Paul Wachter launched an inflammatory attack on Pope Benedict XVI in a Thursday post where he also defended recently-fired CNN editor Octavia Nasr for her eulogy of Hezbollah's spiritual leader. After hinting that the network "overreacted," Wachter suggested that CNN should also fire "anyone who speaks highly of the pope, who...has contributed to the deaths of millions from AIDS."
Wachter began his commentary, "Octavia Nasr Firing: Should CNN Also Ax Anyone Who Praises the Pope?," by recounting the former Middle Eastern affairs editor's Tweet where she expressed how she was "sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot." He then echoed Nasr's own synopsis of the Hezbollah spiritual leader: "Fadlallah left a complex legacy. He was staunchly anti-Zionist, a defender of suicide bombings and approved of the suicide attacks on American barracks in Beirut during the United States' ill-fated intervention in Lebanon during the country's civil war. But he also championed women's rights under Islam and spoke out against honor killings."
The writer, who also contributes to left-leaning publication such as New York Time Magazine, The Atlantic, and The Nation, then launched his attack on the Pope, and lumped in Jerry Fallwell, for good measure, at the end:
Here's Bauder's fourth paragraph wherein he described the Lebanese cleric that Nasr had praised as "[o]ne of Hezbollah's giants [she] respects a lot" (emphasis mine):
Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died Sunday after a long illness. He was staunchly anti-American and linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans, a charge he denied.
Here's Bauder's lead paragraph:
NEW YORK -- Octavia Nasr has been fired. CNN fired the editor responsible for Middle Eastern coverage after she posted a note on Twitter expressing admiration for a late Lebanese cleric considered an inspiration for the Hezbollah militant movement.
Wouldn't a better lede incorporate elements of the fourth paragraph? Something like:
Both CNN and CNN.com have punted on the firing of Octavia Nasr, the network's senior editor of Middle East affairs, after she mourned the death of Islamist cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, "one of Hezbollah's giants," to use her own phrase, on Twitter. None of CNN's on-air programming nor the website has mentioned her "leaving the company" since the news broke on Wednesday afternoon.
CNN's senior editor of Middle East affairs on Sunday publicly expressed regrets for the death of Hezbollah's Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah the cleric that possibly orchestrated the 1983 bombing of two Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
According to the New York Times, he also "justified suicide bombings and other tactics of asymmetrical warfare by arguing that if Israel and its allies used advanced weaponry, Islam permitted the use of any weapons in retaliation."
But before we get to Fadlallah's background, here's what CNN's Octavia Nasr tweeted on July 4 (h/t Weekly Standard via Seton Motley):
Catching up on an item from last week on the Tuesday, June 8, NBC Nightly News, correspondent Tom Aspell portrayed the residents of Gaza as living through a life prison sentence imposed by Israel: "Israel's blockade on Gaza isn't just about preventing goods from getting in, it's about preventing 1.5 million Palestinians from getting out. It sentences them to life inside a 140-square-mile prison." Anchor Brian Williams set up the piece: "We are back now with a rare look inside a place 1.5 million people call home. The Israelis call it a hotbed of terrorism, but the people who live there say they are prisoners of poverty and misery."
As Aspell asserted that dire conditions exist for those in Gaza, he barely mentioned reports to the contrary, and placed the burden of blame squarely on Israel as, even though Egypt actively takes part in the blockade, the NBC correspondent only indirectly alluded to Egypt’s participation as he mentioned that tunnels that lead from Egypt to Gaza are illegal, and related that "some supplies" are "smuggled through hundreds of illegal tunnels under the border from Egypt." But last February, FNC’s Mike Tobin devoted a report to the construction of underground walls by Egypt in an attempt to keep up its end of the blockade by closing off the tunnels: "With each elongated piece of steel Egyptians drive 20 yards into the ground down to the water table, they get closer to completing the iron curtain which will close Gaza's smuggling tunnels. When construction began a month ago, Palestinians in the Gaza strip rioted killing an Egyptian soldier."
During an interview on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, Rabbi David Nesenoff, known for exposing Helen Thomas’s anti-Semitic views, informed viewers that, up until now, he has considered himself to be a liberal Democrat – who even opposed the Iraq War and supported Barack Obama – but now asserts that "I have to really reevaluate liberal and conservative and really find out where I stand because I think I've been a little blind."
As Nesenoff recounted that he had previously agreed with Thomas in her opposition to the war in Iraq, and her challenging of President Bush on the matter, he now sees himself as unknowingly being allied with people who think that "Israel and the Jewish people don't have a connection." Before being interrupted by host Howard Kurtz, Nesenoff began to explain his evolution of thought:
They’re accusing me of being some right-wing ambusher, and it really rocked my world because I have to reevaluate my life and my standing in the agendas because, yeah, I’m a New York Democrat Jewish liberal supporter of Obama, donated to his candidacy for a year, said give him a chance ... watched all these liberal media, and now I have to reevaluate ... I have to now speak to people with all different agendas because if I was part of a team where their agenda was that Israel and the Jewish people don’t have a connection – which is exactly what Helen Thomas said – there’s no connection, why are they even there-
On Friday’s Countdown show, after having decided not to include Helen Thomas as a nominee in his "Worst Person" segment for her anti-Semitic declaration that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany and Poland, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann included Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace in his "Worst Person" segment for suggesting that it would be "poetic justice" if Fox News were to be given her seat in the White House briefing room.
Olbermann went on to claim that FNC personalities are guilty of making comments that are similarly racist as compared to Thomas’s attack on Israeli Jews: "Wallace thus implying that a far right entity that occasionally says indefensible and even racist things should replace a far left entity that occasionally said indefensible and even racist things."
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, Olbermann had similarly found a reason to include as a nominee in his "Worst Person" segment the rabbi who exposed Thomas’s anti-Semitism, even though Thomas herself was never featured in the segment.
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann included Rabbi David Nesenoff – famous for exposing Helen Thomas’s anti-Semitic beliefs in a video of her posted on his Web site – for inclusion in his "Worst Person in the World" segment because Rabbi Nesenoff’s site also includes a video which the MSNBC host viewed as being racist toward Mexicans.
As he explained who Nesenoff is, Olbermann also misstated the severity of Thomas’s declaration that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine," as many in the pro-Palestinian movement consider all of Israel to be part of "Palestine." But Olbermann suggested that she was only referring to Israeli Jews who live in settlements in the Palestinian territories: "Runner up, Rabbi David Nesenoff. He is the man who precipitated the end of Helen Thomas’s career, got the video of her saying Israelis in settlements in Palestine should go home to Poland and Germany and the U.S. It was sad. It was narrow minded. I can`t defend it. On the other hand, Rabbi Nesenoff doesn`t exactly have clean hands."
Notably, the Countdown host had passed on featuring Helen Thomas in his "Worst Person" segment for her anti-Semitic remarks, explaining on Monday that he was thinking of "reluctantly" including her in that night’s "Worst Person" list but chose not to because she had resigned from her position at Hearst. Olbermann, on Monday, introducing the "Worst Person" segment: "But first, with a thank you to Helen Thomas for doing the right thing and bowing out before I had to reluctantly put her out this list, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight`s 'Worst Persons in the World.'"
As other media outlets have given Helen Thomas the kid glove treatment in light of her "trailblazing" career, media consumers may be forgiven for assuming that Helen Thomas's anti-Israel, arguably anti-Semitic comments were an aberration in an otherwise unblemished career of assertive but fair journalism.
To his credit, Washington Post's media reporter Howard Kurtz made note of other incidents, such as the time Thomas blamed Israel for inspiring "99 percent" of terrorism and the time in 2002 when she exclaimed "Thank God for Hezbollah," the Iran-backed terror group that murdered 241 U.S. servicement in 1983 and has plagued Israel for decades.
As the excerpt below shows, it's not just conservatives who have had complaints about Thomas (emphases mine):
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, and Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday’s “The Daily Rundown” were in “anguish” over the forced retirement of Helen Thomas, but showed little sympathy for the Israelis that the Hearst columnist so odiously disrespected.
“I think a lot of people feel some anguish about this because the comments were beyond the pale,” lamented Guthrie. “And yet it tarnishes a career that otherwise people would be celebrating because she was indeed a trailblazer.”
Glossing over the longtime reporter’s comments that Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany or Poland, Mitchell lauded Thomas’s career as “storied” and proceeded to hearken back to a time when Washington was an “all-male town” and Thomas was blazing the trail for women.
“When I first arrived here, after dinner, at political dinners, women went to one room, men went to another to smoke cigars and have brandy,” recalled Mitchell. “This was a very traditional place–not like New York or other East Coast cities.”
In an attempt to make excuses for Thomas while appearing to condemn her remarks, contradictions ran rampant. First up, Mitchell:
On Monday’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, as host Behar led a discussion of long-time journalist Helen Thomas’s recent anti-Israel remarks with guest Jonathan Alter – of Newsweek and MSNBC – and comedian Robert Klein, Alter admitted that, as a Jew, he was offended by her words, but, although he claimed that "I`m not rationalizing it, Joy, I'm not trying to excuse her," he pinned some of the blame on "senility" and suggested that, because of her Lebanese background, her remarks are not necessarily anti-Semitic: "But she`s Lebanese. She`s a Lebanese American. And you do have to understand, you know, some of the history of the region and the feelings in the region, and not necessarily judge somebody who thinks of Israel as an occupying power as by definition an anti-Semite because they think Israel is occup-"
He also expressed his hope that Thomas’s rant would not tarnish the memory of her journalistic career, as he credited her with "asking the tough questions" to President Bush after 9/11, which he asserted other journalists were not willing to do: "I just wish that her whole career is not judged by this. ... I have known her for a long time, and she held many Presidents` feet to the fire at a time when nobody in the Bush press room would say boo about George W. Bush after 9/11, she was already asking the tough questions. And I just, you know, I like to see people be judged in the largest context of their career, not in their senility."
On the bright side, Behar complained that Israel "gets a bum rap a lot," sparking agreement from both Alter and Klein, with Alter observing that there is a "double standard":