Megyn Kelly Rips CAIR Spokesman: 'I'm Not Going to Let You Hijack This Segment'

Fox News's Megyn Kelly clashed with CAIR again in a taped segment that aired Thursday night on The Kelly File. Arguing over the recent uproar at Brandeis University, Kelly ripped CAIR for suing its critics and trying to "silence" them.

For those who haven't heard, Brandeis intended to honor human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali at its graduation, but pulled its invitation after backlash over her criticism of Islam as anti-women. CAIR called her a "notorious Islamophobe." The organization's spokesman then defended its stance on Thursday night, but Kelly wouldn't have it.

"I'm not going to let you hijack this segment, Mr. Hooper. It's not going to happen," Kelly insisted after Hooper interrupted her. "Chuck Schumer came out and said, and I quote, 'CAIR, we know has ties to terrorism. Prominent members of CAIR's current leadership, also – excuse me – had intimate connections with Hamas.'"

Kelly accused the organization of playing the smear card against opponents:

"Your critics say that when you hear anything negative about you, you threaten a lawsuit. And the viewers should know that you have gone after and threatened Reader's Digest, the American Medical Association, U.S. News and World Report, Atlantic Monthly, the Dallas Morning News, Fox News – we did a segment on Honor Diaries just the other week. You demanded a retraction, which you're not getting. Every time you hear something you don't like, you try to shut down the message. Whereas here in America, we like speech. Good and bad."

Hooper, meanwhile, never refuted the charge by Sen. Chuck Schumer that Kelly cited, choosing to dodge the accusation:

KELLY: Have you come to a better place with Chuck Schumer?

HOOPER: When we had our annual dinner, we had, I think, 70 different letters of support from congressman. We had congressman appear at our banquets. We have relations where, on a daily contact with the FBI on civil rights issues, on a variety of things.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

FOX
THE KELLY FILE
4/10/14
[9:01 p.m. EST]

MEGYN KELLY: We also have new developments tonight after Brandeis University caved to pressure from Muslim groups and others, silencing an outspoken champion for Muslim women. I spoke with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in an exclusive interview last night, a Somali-born women who renounced Islam and is dedicating her life to advancing the cause of women's freedom. She recently received attention for her work on Honor Diaries, a documentary on violence against women in some parts of the Muslim world.

(Video Clip)

AYAAN HIRSI ALI: A lot of it has to do with how women behave and the sexuality of women. As a woman you are stripped of all of your freedoms. For women, it becomes, I would say almost a matter of daily life.

(End Video Clip)

KELLY: Ms. Ali is critical of Islam and last night when she came on the program, she told me she is no stranger to attempts to silence her.

(Video Clip)

ALI: For the past 12 years I have systematically been condemned by Muslim individuals, Muslim organizations, relatives, any time that I bring up the treatment of women in Islam.

(End Video Clip)

KELLY: Brandeis University has not yet made anyone available to defend its decision. But the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, pushed for this move and applauded it. So we asked them, why try to silence this woman? Part one of that interview aired last night and is online on our Facebook page right now. And now, part two of my exclusive interview with the communications director of CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper.

(Video Clip)

KELL: Excuse me – now it's my turn. Sir, you just told me that the messenger matters. You just made that point. I'm giving you that. If the messenger matters, then CAIR matters, and CAIR, according to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer –

(Crosstalk)

Excuse me.

(Crosstalk)

KELLY: I'm not going to let you hijack this segment, Mr. Hooper. It's not going to happen. Chuck Schumer came out and said, and I quote, "CAIR, we know has ties to terrorism. Prominent members of CAIR's current leadership, also – excuse me – had intimate connections with Hamas."  

IBRAHIM HOOPER, Council on American-Islamic Relations: This is why you have a hard time getting Muslim representatives to come on Fox and your program, because every time somebody comes on to have a legitimate discussion, you start engaging in these smear campaigns. Again –

(Crosstalk)

KELLY: That's a U.S. Senator, sir.

HOOPER: Don't tell me what other people say about CAIR. Tell me what CAIR has said or done that you object to. We defend the Constitution on a daily basis. We are the first defenders of the First Amendment. We use the First Amendment on a daily basis.

(Crosstalk)

KELLY: You can come on and denounce hateful bigotry, but it can never be said against you because that also is hateful bigotry.

HOOPER: You can say it but I have the right to defend ourselves against this kind of smear.

KELLY: It's not me, sir. It's many people who have come on Fox News and accused you.

HOOPER: It's every hate-filled bigot on the internet.

KELLY: Stand by. Here is people from all political stripes talking about CAIR. Stand by.

(Video Clip)
 
BOB BECKEL, co-host, Fox News's The Five: It's radical Islamists we're talking about here and CAIR is a front for radical Islam.

It has connections to Hamas. It was founded by two people who are deeply connected to Hamas.

>> It actually grew out of a meeting in 1993 in Philadelphia among Hamas activists, who were confronted with the problem of how do we support Hamas without anyone recognizing that we're supporting Hamas?

(End Video Clip)
 
KELLY: Go ahead, sir.

HOOPER: Go ahead. I mean, we're used to these kinds of smears. We're a civil rights organization –

KELLY: They are all smearing. They are all lying.

HOOPER: That's life in the big city. We're used to having these kind of hate-filled smears. But again, 20 years, the most public Muslim organization in the nation, please find something that CAIR has done or said in those 20 years that you find either extreme, objectionable, intolerant, whatever. Every day we're defending the Constitution from people like Hirsi Ali who would change the Constitution so that Muslims wouldn't have civil rights.

KELLY: Alright, well how about this --

HOOPER: Do you think the Constitution – do you agree that the Constitution should be changed?

KELLY: You just challenged me. You defended PIJ, a terrorist group that killed over 100 people, including two Americans, saying, and I quote –

HOOPER: When did we defend PIJ?

KELLY: – saying and I quote, "they've never threatened anyone outside of Israel and the occupied territory." That was a quote from CAIR, okay, from you, sir, you said that. You have gone on to defend the Saudi Arabians funding the families of terrorists, of suicide bombers saying well the families didn't do anything. These are specific comments by you, sir.

HOOPER: Again, you know, when you do your oppositional research, it might be helpful to go to some place other than internet hate sites. I mean, these are the same kind of recycled slurs.

KELLY: One of the other criticisms of CAIR is that you guys go to the "you're an Islamophobe" place immediately upon hearing criticism of you. That you're very quick to allege the criticisms are wrong and anybody criticizing CAIR or radical Islam is an Islamophobe. And it sounds like you're doing that right now, you cry Islamophobia to shut down criticism.

HOOPER: We defend the image of Islam and Muslim community. We defend the image of Islam and Muslim – if you want to attack CAIR, that's fine. We get it every day, we get it from every internet hate site. We get it from every right-wing extremist –

KELLY: U.S. senators. Chuck Schumer? He's not really a right-wing extremist.

HOOPER: Look at the date on some of this stuff. Try and get something that's in this century, how about.

KELLY: Have you come to a better place with Chuck Schumer?

HOOPER: When we had our annual dinner, we had, I think, 70 different letters of support from congressman. We had congressman appear at our banquets. We have relations where, on a daily contact with the FBI on civil rights issues, on a variety of things.

(Crosstalk)

HOOPER: What's your point? Did we come on here to discuss Hirsi Ali? Or was this a bash session on CAIR?

KELLY: Your critics say that when you hear anything negative about you, you threaten a lawsuit. And the viewers should know that you have gone after and threatened Reader's Digest, the American Medical Association, U.S. News and World Report, Atlantic Monthly, the Dallas Morning News, Fox News – we did a segment on Honor Diaries just the other week. You demanded a retraction, which you're not getting. Every time you hear something you don't like, you try to shut down the message. Whereas here in America, we like speech. Good and bad.

HOOPER: It's called the Constitution. It's called the First Amendment.

KELLY: No, no, the First Amendment allows for speech, even speech you don't like.

HOOPER: You get to say hateful things about Islam and Muslims and we never get to respond?

KELLY: No, see, your problem is you don't want to respond, you want to silence.

HOOPER: No, we want to challenge hate-filled anti-Muslim extremists, and we do it quite successfully, thank you.
 
KELLY: You do. Shutting down Honor Diaries, getting the honorary degree pulled from Ms. Ali, suing people for defamation. You've been batting 1.000 lately.

HOOPER: Again, we didn't shut them down. Those who were educated about the hate-filled agenda of the producer said hey, we don't want to buy into that hate-filled agenda and we're not going to show it. And by the way, in each and every case where the Honor Diaries wasn't shown, there's now planning for real engagement on that legitimate issue with real Muslims and with members of that university community. So – and it will get addressed, it just won't get addressed in a hate-filled way.

KELLY: Understood. Hello. Brandeis University can understand tonight that it stands shoulder to shoulder with you and CAIR, sir. I'm sure they will take comfort and its students will take comfort in knowing that. Thanks for being here.

HOOPER: Thousands of supporters at Brandeis. Professors. Students, everybody.
 
KELLY: Thanks for being here.

HOOPER: Thanks for having me.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014