Flashback: In 2009, Media Cringed That Fort Hood Killer Was Muslim Since It ‘Inflames’ Right Wing, ‘Makes It Much Worse’

August 6th, 2013 4:25 PM

The military trial of Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan began Tuesday, with the government arguing that the onetime Army psychiatrist was motivated by “a jihad duty to kill as many soldiers as possible,” while Hasan —  representing himself —  seemed to agree, arguing: “Evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter and the dead bodies will show the war is an ugly thing.”

But in the hours and days after the November 5, 2009 shooting that killed 13 soldiers and wounded more than two dozen others, liberal journalists resisted the idea that this episode was part of the broader war on terrorism and openly fretted about how everyday Americans would respond to news that a Muslim soldier had committed such a massacre. As NPR’s Nina Totenberg mourned at the time: “It really is tragic that he was a Muslim.”

Here are some of the quotes MRC/NewsBusters gathered at the time:

“As for the suspect, Nidal Hasan, as one officer’s wife told me, ‘I wish his name was Smith.’”
— ABC’s Martha Raddatz on World News, November 5, 2009.

“There were also reports, General, that Hasan had told family members that he had been harassed by members of the military, because of his Muslim faith. Is that common?”
— Co-host Meredith Vieira to retired General Barry McCaffrey on NBC’s Today, November 6, 2009.

“The Pentagon has made a real concerted effort to create a military that is culturally sensitive and religiously tolerant, but Muslims in uniform today face a challenge not seen since Japanese-Americans fought in World War II. They taste suspicion from some fellow soldiers who question their loyalty and resentment from fellow Muslims opposed to both American wars.”
— Correspondent Bill Weir on ABC’s World News, November 6, 2009.

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas: “I cringe that he [Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan] is a Muslim. I mean, because it inflames all the fears. I think he’s probably just a nut case. But with that label attached to him, it will get the right wing going and it just — I mean, these things are tragic, but that makes it much worse.”...
NPR’s Nina Totenberg: “It really is tragic that he was a Muslim.”
Inside Washington, November 6, 2009.

“It’s looking more and more like he was just, sort of, a religious nut. And you know, Islam doesn’t have a majority — the Christian religion has its full, you know, full helping of nuts, too.”
— CBS’s Bob Schieffer to Senator Lindsey Graham on Face the Nation, November 8, 2009.

Anchor John Roberts: “The massacre at Fort Hood has many people fearing a backlash against America’s Muslim soldiers....Our Carol Costello live in Washington this morning with an ‘AM Original.’ And army leaders, even the President, are worried about a potential backlash here, Carol.”
Correspondent Carol Costello: “They are, John. The army’s chief of staff is worried about backlash against Muslim soldiers. General Casey saying as great as tragedy as it was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty, as well. It’s something that deeply worries many Americans who are Muslim and have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
— CNN’s American Morning, November 9, 2009.

“How disturbing is it to you that it looks like various agencies failed to connect the dots on Major Hasan?...We know from the beginning of the Iraq war, the escalation in number of cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. The other fact is, is that the more people go back to these fields, these theaters of war, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, it multiplies the incidence of these kinds of things occurring.”
— CBS’s Harry Smith questioning Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on the November 11, 2009 Early Show. Hasan never served in Iraq or Afghanistan.