The Associated Press has published a fact check about some of the misleading claims promoted by conservative media about the proposed Islamic community center in Manhattan. The AP identifies all three of the claims they debunk as being promoted by Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich.
On the claim that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has links to radical Islam:
No one has established a link between the cleric and radicals. New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said: "We've identified no law enforcement issues related to the proposed mosque."
Ros-Lehtinen and King were referring to the State Department's plan, predating the mosque debate, to send Rauf on another religious outreach trip to the Middle East as part of his "long-term relationship" with U.S. officials in the Bush and Obama administrations. The State Department said Wednesday it will pay him $3,000 for a trip costing the government $16,000.
Rauf counts former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from the Clinton administration as a friend and appeared at events overseas or meetings in Washington with former President George W. Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and Bush adviser Karen Hughes.
On the notion that the center is at ground zero:
No mosque is going up at ground zero. The center would be established at 45-51 Park Place, just over two blocks from the northern edge of the sprawling, 16-acre World Trade Center site. Its location is roughly half a dozen normal Lower Manhattan blocks from the site of the North Tower, the nearest of the two destroyed in the attacks.
The center's location, in a former Burlington Coat Factory store, is already used by the cleric for worship, drawing a spillover from the imam's former main place for prayers, the al-Farah mosque. That mosque, at 245 West Broadway, is about a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center grounds.
Another, the Manhattan Mosque, stands five blocks from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site.
The article also discusses the idea that Islam seeks to undermine America:
Bush himself, while criticized at the time for stirring suspicions about American Muslims, traveled to a Washington mosque less than a week after the attacks to declare that terrorism is "not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace."
In any event, the U.S. armed forces field Muslim troops and make accommodations for them. The Pentagon opened an interfaith chapel in November 2002 close to the area where hijacked American Airlines flight 77 slammed into the building, killing 184 people.
Read the whole thing.
Bill O'Reilly isn't often the one making sense during a back and forth on his show, but that was the case tonight in this exchange he had with Bernard Goldberg:
In the segment, Goldberg rehashes the conservative argument that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's comments about 9/11 are somehow extreme and symptomatic of something sinister. As O'Reilly explained, Rauf's comments that "I wouldn't say the United States deserved what happened. But the United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened," are similar to the views of many (including the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission) on the role U.S. foreign policy had with regard to the attacks.
As Media Matters has pointed out, Fox News' own Glenn Beck has said "When people said they hate us, well, did we deserve 9-11? No. But were we minding our business? No. Were we in bed with dictators and abandoned our values and principles? Yes. That causes problems."
To O'Reilly's credit, he explained to Goldberg that the imam's comments weren't the extremist statement Goldberg made them out to be. But Goldberg wanted no part of it. He told O'Reilly he was "tired" of hearing such arguments about U.S. foreign policy, and that if a Christian minister made similar comments "the media wouldn't call him a moderate."
On Fox News today, Glenn Beck decided that the entire religion of Islam would be a good target of mockery.
Conservative media figures have repeatedly claimed or suggested that it would be unprecedented and "corrupt" for Democrats to address "controversial" issues during Congress' lame duck session following the 2010 elections. But in 1998, Republicans impeached President Clinton during such a post-election congressional session.
Glenn Beck informed his viewers today that President Obama recently played basketball with NBA star LeBron James, a sure sign that the president is out of touch, right?
Fox Nation says "Speaker Pelosi Jumps the Shark" and repeats the claim on their home page:
The problem with this assertion is that the story they've linked to doesn't actually contain those words or that sentiment. The story Fox Nation links to, from Politico, shows Speaker Pelosi describing what she feels the Republican party's role is in the most recent unemployment report. The story says nothing about sharks or any sort of jumping. That element is purely the invention of the editors or whoever cranks out the headlines at Fox Nation. The story doesn't even mention the Fonz.
If you thought Rush Limbaugh would simply be content to just echo his fellow conservatives in a misguided and counterfactual attack on Michelle Obama by comparing her to and calling her "Marie Antoinette" you would be very wrong. Today, he added to that smear the racially charged rhetoric that he's employed for years.
Of course, neither side of the media divide gets it right 100% of the time, and Hall specifically cites the already infamous Shirley Sherrod case, in which conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart edited video to imply that Sherrod, an African-American former USDA official, had withheld aid from a white farmer.
Sherrod was asked to resign, and now plans to sue Breitbart. "[The media] should be ashamed of ourselves at what happened. Even though it was a certain blogger that started an irresponsible journey, we didn't stop it," Hall confesses. "But I think that's part of the learning curve, the 'teachable moment.' It was a real kick in the gut for credible journalists."
Of course, before the entire Sherrod episode, it was clear that Andrew Breitbart's work wasn't to be trusted. Whether it was attacking ACORN, smearing Kevin Jennings, or even Maoist Christmas tree ornaments, Breitbart's m.o. was clear before he targeted Sherrod. The media should never have carried his water. Hopefully they won't do so in the future, but it's not the best track record.
Earlier this week Media Matters noted Rush Limbaughs comments about the use of chemical dispersants in the Gulf oil spill: "God and the ocean can handle the dispersants." Today Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) responded during a hearing for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, calling Limbaugh's comments "callous" and "irresponsible":
In response to a column by Simon Greer of Jewish Funds for Justice that criticized Glenn Beck's attacks on social justice and said "to put humankind first is to put the common good first," Beck said that to do so "leads to death camps" and that "a Jew, of all people, should know that." According to Michael Calderone of Yahoo! those comments reportedly prompted a meeting between Greer and Fox News executives (including network president Roger Ailes), in which the executives acknowledged Beck had "crossed the line":
Simon Greer, chief executive of Jewish Funds for Justice, told The Upshot that when Greer approached them, Ailes and senior vice president Joel Cheatwood agreed that Beck crossed the line in comparing Greer's worldview to that of the Nazis and promised to speak with Beck about the matter.
Two days later, Greer said he received a handwritten letter from Beck.
The Upshot learned of the July 26 meeting and Fox's response to Beck's comments through an email Greer sent to key supporters and allies of his organization. Greer confirmed the authenticity of the email which was passed along to The Upshot by a source.
It's noteworthy that with all the smears, attacks, and violent imagery produced by Beck on a regular basis, this is one of the few times any sort of network action appears to have taken place. Indeed, Newscorp executives did not denounce -- and in the case of CEO Rupert Murdoch, at times endorsed -- Beck's claim that President Obama is a "racist."