A truly astonishing thing happened on MSNBC Monday: three devout, liberal Obama supporters said the President is responsible for people thinking he's a Muslim.
During the opening segment of "Hardball," in a discussion about Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally and how the host and attendees view Obama's faith, Newsweek's Howard Fineman said, "Barack Obama probably should have joined a church here...some things in politics you have to do at least for the symbolism."
A bit later, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson concurred: "Howard Fineman was in the earlier segment, but I tend to agree with him. I think -- I expected that when President Obama came to town, he and the family, as he said, would look around, find a church to go to and join a church and go there regularly."
Minutes later, Matthews also agreed saying, "You`re responsible for your reputation" (videos follow with transcripts and commentary):
On Thursday's The Ed Show on MSNBC, substitute host Cenk Uygur -- also of the Young Turks -- blamed conservative opposition to the Ground Zero mosque for acts of violence against Muslims, and charged that the Republican party is the "party of hate." He soon added: "Then there's the vitriolic fight against immigrants, undocumented ones and in Arizona just people who happen to look undocumented. And, of course, there's the grand daddy of all prejudice, fear and hatred stoked up against Muslims in this country. Now, it's gotten so bad that a young man stabbed a cabbie in the neck and face Tuesday after finding out that he was Muslim."
He eventually asked: "What black person, gay guy or girl, immigrant or Muslim-American in their right mind would vote for the Republican party? They might as well hang a sign around their neck saying I hate myself."
Uygur also recited a list of violent events from the past couple of years, while also running clips of conservatives like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Bill O’Reilly in an attempt to prove that they were responsible for inciting specific violent incidents. At one point, he even used edited clips of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in such a way as to suggest that they had encouraged people to shoot Muslims or other minorities.
After recounting recent episodes of violence against Muslims, he tied in Palin and Bachmann:
Chris Matthews this weekend actually invited a real conservative on to the syndicated program bearing his name, and what transpired was a thing of beauty.
National Review's Reihan Salam did such a fabulous job of educating Matthews and his guests - especially Time's Joe Klein - that I imagine him quickly becoming a NewsBusters favorite.
The initial topic of discussion was Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally scheduled to occur after this was taped.
Between Matthews' disrespectful introduction, and Klein calling the conservative talk show host "a paranoid lunatic," one had the feeling this would have devolved into a full on hate-fest if not for Salam's presence.
Fortunately, the National Reviewer was there to set the record straight (videos follow with transcripts and commentary):
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 Sunday’s syndicated Chris Matthews show, during a discussion of a poll reporting that a majority of self-described Republicans expressed a negative view of Islam, as Time magazine’s Joe Klein recounted incidents of recent violence in America by Muslim extremists, host Matthews asked if "this [anti-Muslim] attitude against them" was to blame for "stirring them up," leading Klein to agree that anti-Muslim attitudes played a role:
JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: You’ve had over the last year, two or three major incidents of deranged Muslims, the Army doctor down at Fort Hood, the Times Square bomber, who were Americans, American citizens.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: And what’s stirring them up? This attitude against them?
KLEIN: Yeah. But I also think that there’s a small minority of Muslims in the world who believe this extremist philosophy.
After Matthews questioned whether opposition to the Ground Zero mosque and "apocalyptic talk by people like Glenn Beck" exist because the President is black, Klein painted small-town white Americans as resentful that modern America no longer has the "ethnic purity" of the past, with Matthews responding, "Well said.":
CNN on Friday disgustingly advocated for a watered-down, more politically correct version of Christianity.
Highlighted at its website was research from a Princeton theology professor on the state of Christianity among teenagers. The study found that American churches have fallen for PC feel-good morality that's afraid of confrontation - and the result is a generation unable to distinguish Christianity from simple theism.
The author of the study, Kenda Creasy Dean, said the process was "depressing" as she interviewed one Christian after another describing God as a "therapist" who exists to validate their "self-esteem." Worse yet, many of them could not give a coherent explanation of the Gospel, content with a general belief that God wants them to "feel good and do good."
And in MSM newsrooms across the fruited plain, there was much rejoicing. Incessant pressure to water down Christianity has finally paid off.
CNN reporter John Blake wrote a piece on the sad phenomenon with no introspection as to who might be causing it:
"Protesters use 'sharia' as a slur and rallying cry against Islam," reads the dismissive print edition headline for Michelle Boorstein's page A5 August 27 story. The Washington Post's online edition used different wording: "For critics of Islam, 'sharia' a loaded word."
Boorstein cited "controversial" conservative scholar Daniel Pipes warning that pro-sharia Muslims "want to implement sharia in every detail on everyone in a stringest way." For an opposing view, the Post religion writer also cited Imam Yahya Hendi, a Muslim chaplain for Georgetown University and "spokesman of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of North America," who argued that more moderate Muslims see sharia as more like a set of guidelines to guide personal and family life than a rigid code of law which must supplant secular governance.
Fair enough, yet Boorstein put her thumb on the scale by lamenting that "the word has become akin to a slur in some camps... an alarming development to many religious and political leaders."
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tied together Republican opposition to same-sex marriage, the Ground Zero mosque, and illegal immigration, as he charged that "the Republican method" for electoral success is "hate." The MSNBC host opened the show: "The Republican method for winning elections is hate. Hate somebody. Anybody will do. We have seen it this year with immigrants and now, Muslims. And now, in our fifth story tonight: for the first time, we have a former head of the Republican party confirming that, yes, his party does it. They do it to win and did it in 2004 and 2006 against gay Americans. He said this even though he himself is no longer denying that he, too, is gay."
Without evidence, Olbermann also blamed the stabbing of New York City cab driver Ahmed Sharif on those who oppose construction of a mosque near Ground Zero. Although he later admitted that the mosque was not mentioned by the suspect, the MSNBC host suggested a link as he teased the show:
CNN's Deborah Feyerick joined the media guessing game as to the motivation behind the stabbing of Muslim taxicab driver in New York City, emphasizing the possibility it may have been "connected to this big Ground Zero controversy, where we're hearing so much anti-Muslim sentiment." Feyerick raised this hypothesis during reports on Thursday's Rick's List and The Situation Room.
The correspondent's first report on the attack aired 12 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of Rick's List. Anchor Rick Sanchez played a clip from victim Ahmed Sharif's press conference on Thursday before introducing Feyerick. She began by stating that when "Michael Enright, the suspect, was arrested, he had numerous journals and notebooks on him, all of them filled with writings, some of it completely illegible. That is now with authorities, all of that being vetted and looked through to see whether, in fact, there was anything indicating that he had undergone some sort of a mental or emotional change."
Feyerick did mention that Enright "ironically...was a volunteer working for a non-profit organization that promotes peace," but didn't mentioned that the organization, Intersections International, actually supports the planned mosque near Ground Zero. She continued with the speculation over the possible motivation of the attack, including the "anti-Muslim" charge:
So AP writer Allen Breed begins his recent mosque piece by defining the word, "tolerance." It's a traditional rhetorical device, one learned back in sixth grade while plagiarizing the Encyclopedia Britannica.
His piece focuses on religion, of course, - but not Islam, Christianity or even my favorite, "the universal life force of the Grand Unicorn."
His all powerful religion? Tolerance.
Of course, for him, tolerance can only play one way. As Yanks we must kneel before the alter of acceptance, while everyone else uses us as a footrest.
Is it a case of removing the plank from your own eye before removing the speck from your brothers - or political correctness run amok?
In a tweet Aug. 26, ABC "20/20" anchor Chris Cuomo told his 987,000 followers not to condemn Muslim violence because other religions have perpetrated violence in the past.
"To all my christian brothers and sisters, especially catholics - before u condemn muslims for violence, remember the crusades....study them," Cuomo tweeted around 9:30 am.
So does past violence justify modern violence? If so, maybe Cuomo should take his own advice and study the Crusades. Even a brief study would reveal a much more complicated situation than Cuomo's tweet suggests about who struck first.
Never mind the personal feelings of people, which they're entitled to have, over the notion of a mosque being built in close proximity to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Those sensitivities have nothing to do with what's really going on. It's really all about President Barack Obama and his political opponents according to New York Times columnist Frank Rich.
On MSNBC's Aug. 26 broadcast of "The Rachel Maddow Show," host Rachel Maddow admitted she was befuddle that anti-Islam sentiment has seemingly peaked in the past few weeks and wondered why it has suddenly been brought to boil, with the mosque in question at the forefront.
"For all the bad decisions made post-9/11, we really didn't see a national, like, open partisan two-minutes hate toward Muslims the way we are seeing now about this mosque debate," Maddow said. "Why is it happening now?"
Former New York Governor George Pataki on Wednesday got into a heated discussion with Chris Matthews over the Ground Zero mosque and the Republican opposition to it.
In the middle of his second "Hardball" segment on MSNBC, Matthews played a clip of Rush Limbaugh saying on the radio earlier in the day, "If this is a nation that is Islamophobic, how do we elect a man whose name is Barack Hussein Obama?"
This led Matthews to ask his guest, "What do you think of guys that keep putting out lies like that?"
Over the course of the next five minutes, Pataki basically took over the show not only putting Matthews in his place, but also doing the same to his other guest, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Still more slanted coverage in the New York Times of the controversy over a proposed mosque at Ground Zero: First in Saturday's story by intelligence reporter Scott Shane, fretting that public opposition voiced to the speedy approval and building of a giant Islamic cultural center topped by a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero would somehow make radical Muslim extremists, who despise the very existence of America, hate the U.S. even more: "Anti-Islam Protest in U.S. Bolsters Extremists, Experts Say" (Note: This article was compiled from three separate articles prepared for Times Watch).
Some counterterrorism experts say the anti-Muslim sentiment that has saturated the airwaves and blogs in the debate over plans for an Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan is playing into the hands of extremists by bolstering their claims that the United States is hostile to Islam.
Opposition to the center by prominent politicians and other public figures in the United States has been covered extensively by the news media in Muslim countries. At a time of concern about radicalization of young Muslims in the West, it risks adding new fuel to Al Qaeda's claim that Islam is under attack by the West and must be defended with violence, some specialists on Islamic militancy say.
For centuries, theological seminaries minted trained and licensed ministers of their respective religious traditions. They took seriously their creedal and confessional commitments to their respective faiths and denominations. While comparative theology may have been taught, it was with a view to understand and critically evaluate them as rival truth claims, not equally valid truthful claims. But those dark, backwards days may be behind us if Claremont School of Theology successfully paves the way.
Dias's 10-paragraph-long August 22 article portrayed Claremont president Jerry Campbell as a "classic American" entrepreneur who took a novel approach to the school's "low enrollment and in-the-red" balance sheet: "end isolated clerical training" by "bring[ing] toegether Claremont, the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) and the Academy for Jewish Religion California."
Of course, religious training deals in matters of eternal verities, not marketplace commodities, so that sort of approach is unwise, religious conservatives would argue. Yet Dias excluded any dissent from her examination into the newly inclusive Methodist seminary.
Time magazine's Joe Klein yesterday did what he does best: take one paragraph from a neoconservative's column and blow it out of proportion and out of context in order to go on an extended screed bashing conservatives in general and neocons in particular.
Writing for his magazine's Swampland blog yesterday, Klein addressed Bill Kristol's editorial for the August 30 Weekly Standard print edition entitled, "He's No Muslim, He's a Progressive."
Klein started off with a backhanded compliment:
Well, it's good to learn that there are limits to Bill Kristol's tactical skeevery. He clearly states here that Barack Obama is not a Muslim. No winks, no nods, no gratuitous McConnellesque "If he says he's not, that's okay with me."
With that out of the way, Klein dove into his screed:
Mowjood? As Alana Goodman of the Business and Media Institute reported earlier this month, Sharaf Mowjood is a former lobbyist for the Council on American Islamic Relations, an interest group that strongly supports the mosque. Mowjood coauthored a glowing Dec. 9, 2009 article on the mosque with reporter Ralph Blumenthal and also contributed to a sympathetic story by Barnard August 11 about public relations missteps by the mosque sponsors.
Barnard began with an anecdote about a Rauf lecture in Cairo where the imam (with a voice the Times describes as "soft, almost New Agey") was accused by radical Islamists of being an American agent (a story which of course bolsters Rauf's moderate credentials). Barnard seemingly took it as her mission to rebut charges of extremism against Rauf.
In his absence -- he is now on another Middle East speaking tour sponsored by the State Department -- a host of allegations have been floated: that he supports terrorism; that his father, who worked at the behest of the Egyptian government, was a militant; that his publicly expressed views mask stealth extremism. Some charges, the available record suggests, are unsupported. Some are simplifications of his ideas. In any case, calling him a jihadist appears even less credible than calling him a United States agent.
[Updated] Good Morning America co-host Bianna Golodryga on Saturday chided the Reverend Franklin Graham, complaining that "one of the country's leading evangelicals is adding to the confusion" over Barack Obama's religion.
Reporter Jake Tapper then played a clip of Graham being interviewed on CNN: "He was born a Muslim. His father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father. He's renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ."
Yet, the New York Times struck a very similar tone in a May 12, 2008 op-ed. Contributor Edward Luttwak wrote, "As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant."
Those familiar with the Washington Post know that the paper is a staunch defender of a very liberal vision of the separation of church and state. For example, the paper's editorial board was heavily critical of the Supreme Court's Mojave cross ruling.
But when it comes to the supposed dearth of Muslim chaplains at Virginia prisons, Sunday's Metro section went into full hand-wringing mode. "Inadequate Funds for Chaplains," complained a subheader for the page B1 story by staffer Kevin Sieff.
Of course, it wasn't until paragraph 27 that Sieff noted that "[n]either Catholic nor Jewish chaplains have sought funding from corrections officials." As Sieff explained early in his article, "a 200-year-old interpretation of the state constitution... bars Virginia from doing any faith-based hiring" and "is the only state where prison chaplains are contractors, not state employees." Sure, "Muslim chaplains could visit correctional facilities to minister to Virginia's 32,000 inmates," Sieff explained, "but they received no funds from the state" until a $25,000 grant was given to Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia last July.
Bob Schieffer on Sunday blamed the internet for the growing number of Americans that think Barack Obama is a Muslim.
Namelessly referring to last week's Pew Research Center poll finding that eighteen percent now believe this, the "Face the Nation" host concluded Sunday's program saying that "in the internet age, ignorance travels as rapidly as great ideas."
He continued, "Now, not only great minds can find one another and compare notes, so too can the nuts and the perverts and those who are simply looking to validate their prejudices."
And continued, "So despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, a new poll tells us a growing number of Americans, most of them on the right, believe Barack Obama is a Muslim. No doubt, due in part to the fact that stories to that effect have gone viral on the internet" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, during a discussion of the Ground Zero mosque controversy, after Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson recommended that the mosque be moved as a compromise, NPR’s Michel Martin – formerly of ABC News – compared relocating the mosque to similarly treating a Catholic church after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Even though McVeigh -- who described himself as "agnostic" despite his Catholic parents -- timed the bombing to coincide with the second anniversary of the Waco disaster to signal that he was motivated by revenge, Martin ridiculously responded: "Did anybody move a Catholic church? Did anybody move a Christian church after Timothy McVeigh – who adhered to a cultic, white supremacist cultic version of Christianity – bombed the Murrah building in Oklahoma?"
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange from the Sunday, August 22, Reliable Sources on CNN:
"Is President Obama good for the Jews?" asked New York Times columnist Charles Blow Saturday.
His answer was quite surprising: "For more and more Jewish-Americans, the answer is no."
In his piece marvelously titled "Oy Vey, Obama," Blow referred to Thursday's Pew Research Center report finding "33% of Jewish voters identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, up from 20% in 2008."
From there, Blow went where a liberal columnist for the New York Times typically dares not:
CNN's T. J. Holmes brought back Time's Bobby Ghosh on Friday's Newsroom for more promotion of his "Islamophobia" cover story, and added two Muslim guests who largely agreed with his thesis that anti-Islamic sentiment was "coming into the mainstream," and how this was apparently a "reason for alarm." Holmes asked softball questions, and no one with an opposing viewpoint appeared during the segment.
The anchor had the three on for a panel discussion at the bottom of the 10 am Eastern hour about Ghosh's "Is America Islamophobic?" article, as well the controversy over the planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. Before introducing his guests, Holmes held up two examples of apparent "Islamophobia" in the country and seemed to sympathize with the apparent plight of Muslims in the U.S.:
HOLMES: Two-and-a-half million Muslims live, work and pray in America- not always easy. Case in point: protests in California- check that out- marching against a proposed mosque in their area, holding signs with slogans such as, 'Muslims danced for joy on 9/11'- or how about the planned Islamic center and mosque near New York's Ground Zero? More than 60 percent of Americans are opposed to that center being built. But the scope is bigger than that, according to a Time magazine poll. More than 3 in 10 Americans would say no to a mosque in their neighborhood. Then there are statements like this one from evangelical leader Franklin Graham.
During the 10 a.m. ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Chris Jansing spoke with Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf Hanson about the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, who proclaimed: "I think there's a lot of fear....there has been a concerted effort by a certain segment. It's a very small minority, but their powerful and vocal, to demonize the Muslim community."
Yusuf was on to discuss his founding of Zaytuna College in California, the nation's first Islamic higher education school. However, Jansing introduced the segment by placing the college in this context: "...the [mosque] controversy prompted Time magazine to ask, Is America – if America is Islamophobic. A Time poll found that 46% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence against nonbelievers. And a small college in Berkeley, California, may become the new battleground in America's uneasy relationship with Islam."
After briefly discussing the college, Jansing turned to the mosque: "Do you understand the unease among many Americans, and we are seeing a lot of it come out with this mosque controversy?" After denouncing opponents of the project, Hanson defended the imam involved: "Feisal Abdul Rauf, who's the imam there, is an extremely gentle person and to frame him as an extremist means that the whole community is mad...these are people that have spent their life in interfaith dialogue..." Rauf claimed the United States was an "accessory" to the September 11th attacks during a September 2001 60 Minutes interview on CBS.
Thus reads the page A2 headline for Michael Shear's August 20 Washington Post story that reads like an extended Obama White House campaign press release.
Shear opens with a story about how Obama prayed with "three Christian pastors" over the phone as he flew to Chicago to celebrate his 49th birthday. "As he celebrated his birthday, he was in a reflective mood," Shear cooed. "He told them he wanted to pray about the year that had passed, what's really important in life and the challenges ahead," the Post staffer added before cuing up Joel Hunter, "an evangelical pastor who ws on the call and who is part of a small circle of spiritual advisers who frequently talk to Obama by phone."
Hunter served up the argument of Shear's article, that because Obama is private about his Christian faith, it's no wonder polls show a growing number of people unsure of his faith, with some even thinking he's a Muslim. "You know what happens with a vacuum?" Hunter asked, before answering his own question, "It gets filled."
On Thursday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty questioned the motives of the planners behind the proposed New York City mosque near Ground Zero: "The developer... has said the proximity of the planned mosque and center is not an issue. Really?...It's simply unrealistic to think you can build a Muslim house of worship two blocks from where this awful thing happened, and not get a negative reaction."
Cafferty raised the mosque controversy during his 5 pm Eastern hour commentary: "Sometimes no answer can be an answer. When asked if a portion of the $100 million needed to build the mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero here in New York City might come from either Saudi Arabia or Iran, the developers refused to comment. This only adds to the already heated controversy surrounding this project."
The CNN personality, after noting that "15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September the 11th, came from Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. considers Iran to be a sponsor of terrorism," applauded New York Governor David Paterson's effort to find a compromise over the planned mosque's site, labeling him "one of the few rational voices in the conversation."
CNN's American Morning and Newsroom programs on Thursday brought on Time magazine's Bobby Ghosh to highlight his "Is America Islamophobic?" article and help promote his accusation that "hate speech" and "bigotry" have "come out into the mainstream" during the course of the debate over the proposed New York City mosque near Ground Zero.
During his American Morning appearance, anchor Kiran Chetry hailed Ghosh's article, which is the cover story of the upcoming August 30th issue of Time, as "a very thoughtful piece." Anchor Ali Velshi, who conducted the second interview of the Time deputy international editor, went further than his colleague: "Okay, you're American- Time magazine is required reading....Bobby Ghosh...wrote the Islamophobia piece that I think everybody is going to have to read because if you are in this country, it's part of the dialogue that we are involved in at this point."
But only days earlier, in an August 3 Time.com article about the imam behind the mosque, Ghosh stated that the "last legal hurdle to the proposed Islamic center near the site of the World Trade Center has been removed, but ignorance, bigotry and politics are more formidable obstacles....Criticism [of the mosque] spans the gamut, from the ill-informed anguish of those who mistakenly view Islam as the malevolent force that brought down the towers to the ill-considered opportunism of right-wing politicians who see Islam as an easy target." So the "thoughtful" Time editor whose latest is "required reading" even had the gall to criticize the families and the friends of those who died on 9/11, or who are generally emotionally-touched by the carnage of the attack.
Speaking to conservative commentator Ann Coulter on Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill seemed to hope the Ground Zero mosque controversy had run its course: "Does it go away or does this continue through November?"
Hill's question to Coulter followed fellow guest, Democratic strategist Tanya Acker, ranting: "...the notion that in the United States of America we would deny people the right to have a religious edifice is simply – like, that's just not – it's unconscionable....I think that smart Republicans, fair Republicans, fair people of all political persuasions need to look – are looking at this really as a constitutional issue and really as a freedom issue. It should not be this political question that it's become." Picking up on Acker's argument, Hill turned to Coulter: "So, it shouldn't be a political issue. Though is it going to continue to be one as we head to November?"
In her response, Coulter fired back at Acker: "I will say Tanya's absolutely giving the Democratic position. America, you want a mosque at Ground Zero, you vote for the Democrats." Acker angrily replied: "No. No, I'm giving – I'm giving the American position, Ann. I'm giving the American position because my constitution says that-" Hill then interrupted, notifying both guests that they were out of time.
[Update; Thursday, 7:10 pm Eastern: Simmons admitted his error about the '93 World Trade Center bombing on his Twitter account: "Made critical error on CNN last nite. Was thinking of last major terrorist attack on US soil in OKC by McVeigh & mispoke"]
Russell Simmons, founder of the hip-hop label Def Jam, bizarrely and inaccurately claimed during an interview on Wednesday's Larry King Live on CNN that the perpetrators behind the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 were Christians: "If you're blaming Muslims for the attack on 9/11, then you need to change your mind. We didn't- did we blame Christians at the first World Trade attack? We didn't" [audio clip available here].
Host Larry King brought on Simmons to discuss the controversy over the New York City mosque near Ground Zero. He appeared immediately after an interview of New York Governor David Paterson, who attempted to negotiate with the planners behind the mosque in order to get its site moved. King first asked the entrepreneur to respond to the governor's efforts. He unequivocally supported the proposed worship space: "We should make every effort not to move it. I think it's critical that we recognize that we built this country on religious tolerance and on religious freedom. And so, if we want to penalize the two billion Muslims because of the actions of a few, then we have to examine the way we look at each other and all religions. So I think it would be a terrible idea to move the mosque."