WaPo Builds 'Panic' on Hearing on Radical Islam: 'Some Compare Hearings to McCarthyism'

The dominant front-page story in Monday's Washington Post is headlined "Hearings on Muslims trigger panic: Some fear that a coming House inquiry into alleged hidden radicalism will inflame prejudice." The headline on the inside page is 'Some compare hearings to McCarthyism." William Wan's story added in the third paragraph, smack dab on the front page: "Angry op-eds have compared the congressional inquiry to McCarthyism and the World War II persecution of Japanese Americans."

Can anyone recall the Post leading a "panic" against a hearing a Democrat had yet to begin? The target of all this "panic" is Rep. Peter King, a moderate Republican from Long Island. Nowhere in this story were mentions of Fort Hood or the Christmas Day bomber, which might define "hidden radicalism." Wan focused his story on a Long Island mosque where King used to appear, and how those local Muslims feel betrayed by King after 9/11.  But King isn't holding hearings into his local mosques. He's focusing on a national issue of homeland security. But Wan focused on King's turning his back on his own constituents:

"He used to come to our weddings. He ate dinner in our homes," said the mosque's chairman, Habeeb Ahmed, a short medical technologist with graying hair sitting near the front. "Everything just changed suddenly after 9/11, and now he's holding hearings to say that people like us are radical extremists. I don't understand it."

Wan did note that several local Muslims initially refused to believe that 9/11 was a Muslim plot, but suggested the Israeli government had more to gain from the mass murder of Americans. (See the little-Muslim-girl picture the Post used to illustrate King's "trigger panic" story online?)

Finally in paragraph number 43, Wan acknowledges something that should be obvious, that we have a radical-Islam domestic terrorism problem:

Few take issue with King's assertion that homegrown terrorism is rising dramatically.

In the past two years, according to Justice Department statistics, nearly 50 U.S. citizens have been charged with major terrorism counts - all of them allegedly motivated by radical Islamic beliefs.

But many law enforcement leaders disagree with King's allegation that most Muslim leaders do not cooperate with authorities. In the past, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has praised the community. And in a speech last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said: "The cooperation of Muslim and Arab-American communities has been absolutely essential in identifying, and preventing, terrorist threats. We must never lose sight of this."

Experts also point to a string of recent terrorism cases that were foiled or reported by Muslim leaders.

Does the Post assume that King or his fellow members of Congress would not discuss or acknowledge Muslim cooperation in apprehending radical terrorists? Or does the Post simply want to paint a picture that the new Republican majority in Congress is extreme and full of Islamophobia?

Wan's story fails to report the Post's own poll from last fall that found "roughly half the country (49 percent) holds an unfavorable view of Islam," and two-thirds opposed the building of the Ground Zero mosque. That would suggest King's hearings are more in the "mainstream" than The Washington Post. Wan also failed to acknowledge that the Post has previously erred in finding Muslim "moderates" that weren't moderates.

If it's unfair that Americans hold a negative view of all Muslims or Muslim clerics when only a few are criminals or radicals, then perhaps the Post could feel the same sympathy for the Catholic church, but there are no stories about anti-Catholic prejudice, when stories routinely parrot the church is forever "dogged" by sex abuse allegations.

On Friday, Jeff Stein of the Post's Spy Blog said Muslim activists and "some mainstream papers" were suggesting McCarthyism: Rep. Peter King's plan for hearings on Muslim 'radicalization' draws criticism from all sides.

"Mainstream papers" don't "trigger panic" and compare hearings that haven't even begun yet to "McCarthyism and the World War II persecution of Japanese Ameicans."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis