CNN's Fareed Zakaria made it quite clear last summer that he supported the construction of the Ground Zero mosque. He was much more neutral in an interview with the mosque's developer Sunday, but was content to let his guest tell his side of the story without any scrutiny from the CNN host.
Although the once-proposed mosque is no longer making headlines, Zakaria decided anyway to feature the mosque's developer Sharif El-Gamal for a soft interview one year after the controversy ignited. El-Gamal received fawning coverage by CBS and NBC last summer for his work.
Conservative radio host Steve Malzberg on Monday called Steve Pelley a louse for his puff piece about the Ground Zero mosque aired on CBS's "60 Minutes."
As NewsBusters previously reported, "In a Sunday 60 Minutes story that gave a glowing portrayal of the real estate developer and imam behind the Ground Zero mosque, CBS anchor Scott Pelley also used the opportunity to smear opponents of the project."
"Scott Pelley has just earned the Bob Schieffer 'I Don't Give a Rat's About Anything' Journalism Award," scolded Malzberg on his WOR radio program the following day.
"Do you hear this louse?" he asked. "Take your journalism degree, Scott, and put it at the bottom of your dog the next time he crouches down because that's what your journalism degree is worth you pathetic fool" (audio follows with partial transcript and commentary):
In a Sunday 60 Minutes story that gave a glowing portrayal of the real estate developer and imam behind the Ground Zero mosque, CBS anchor Scott Pelley also used the opportunity to smear opponents of the project: "...a national controversy with anger, passion, and more than a little misinformation. Opponents whipped up a fury, calling the project a grotesque mega-mosque tied to terrorism."
Pelley began by touting how building developer Sharif El-Gamal was simply trying to improve a "dingy block in lower Manhattan" and that he "thought his project would be a step up for a seedy part of downtown." Pelley described how "the community enthusiastically agreed. The plan was endorsed by the Mayor, the borough president, and the community board." He then emphasized the distance from Ground Zero: "You can't see Ground Zero from here, but when you make the corner...you can see the cranes where the new World Trade Center buildings are going up....It took us another two minutes to walk to the edge of what the government officially designates as Ground Zero."
Pelley highlighted El-Gamal's multi-cultural background: "...you're a Muslim who married a Christian girl. Your mother is Catholic. And you joined the Jewish community center on the West Side of Manhattan." However, he then turned to mosque opponent Pamela Geller, whom he characterized as "a former New York media executive who writes a politically far Right blog that mixes news, opinion, and conspiracy theories."
Could Scott Pelley possibly be this naive, or was he willingly playing the role of MSM cheerleader for the developer of the Ground Zero Mosque?
In the course of a chummy interview of GZM developer Sharif El-Gamal aired on Sunday's 60 Minutes, Pelley produced a pearl. Instead of asking a probing question, the CBS "reporter" served as an advocate for El-Gamal's position when it came to the siting of the mosque.
Pelley, on his own initiative, asserted:
"You don't have your choice of putting this anywhere you want to. There aren't many spots."