Fox News' Islam problem has often led them to promote supposed experts who are in no way credible. Today was no different, as Fox News decided to promote an obscure organization's forthcoming briefing purporting to name "thousands" of U.S. members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group, Citizens for National Security (CFNS), was previously best known for its declaration that Florida's textbooks are excessively pro-Islam.
According to its press release, CFNS' briefing, titled "Homegrown Jihad in the USA: Culmination of the Muslim Brotherhood's 50-year History of Infiltrating America," will present "an unprecedented list of individual members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S., and the people and organizations with which they are associated." The report was compiled by the organization's "volunteer members"; CFNS gives no indication as to the qualifications of those members or how the list was compiled.
While Fox decided to devote a four-minute segment to the organization's report, neither anchor Bill Hemmer nor guest Erick Stakelbeck, a "terrorism analyst" for the Christian Broadcasting Network, seemed familiar with the organization:
HEMMER: The report today is done by a group out of Florida, Citizens for National Security? Are you familiar with this group?
STAKELBECK: You know, I don't know too much about the group Bill, but I will tell you --
HEMMER: Well apparently they're going to name names. Like who?
STAKELBECK: I'm looking forward to it.
So basically, Fox's standard in ascertaining credibility to a group planning to accuse thousands of Americans of being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood is "ignorance is bliss." The network made no effort to figure out if the organization is worth listening to before trumpeting its conclusions on national television.
It's not surprising Stakelbeck doesn't know what CFNS is. A Nexis search for the organization prior to this month, when today's briefing began receiving coverage, reveals about a dozen citations in local Florida outlets.
The articles largely fall into two categories. There are reports on CFNS $50-per-person public workshops on Islamic terrorism, and accounts of the group's last major report, which postulates that "the past decade has seen particularly aggressive and intense overt and stealth efforts by proponents of Islam to inject their beliefs into public K-12 classrooms via textbooks and associated material."
Here's one report on a CFNS workshop. Note the abject fearmongering at work:
Workshop participants will learn the concepts of cyber-terrorism in layperson's terms and obtain a working understanding of key techniques available to "radical Islamist" and other extremists, [CFNS chairman William] Saxton noted.
The information covered in the workshop will be of particular interest to the Jewish community, he added.
"There's more than abundant evidence that Jews are a primary target for Islamic extremists. In the simplest application of Islamist cyber-terrorism, these radicals would have no problem whatsoever in defacing, disrupting, or completely closing down synagogue and other Jewish community and Jewish-related websites," Saxton noted.
"With the technology that exists today, Jewish websites are vulnerable to undetected penetration, and subsequent acquisition and manipulation of sensitive information about people and activities within the Jewish community," he said. "Unfortunately, Jewish people that I speak to are totally unaware of this potential threat, or in denial about it."
Andrew Rosenkranz, Florida regional director of the Anti-Defamation League said he's not aware of any incidents of cyber-terrorism aimed at the Jewish community
"I'm not saying it can't happen, but we don't know of any recent incidents of that nature taking place in Florida," he noted. "But if it happens, people should contact the ADL."
And here are some examples of the "Islamic slant" CFNS claims is at work in school textbooks:
* In one third-grade textbook, Judaism isn't mentioned while other religions are, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
* In an advanced placement textbook for ninth- though 12th-graders, the book doesn't mention the "Arabs hatred of Jews," or moments in history when they created conflicts. CFNS researchers also took exception that the book's author paraphrases Bin Laden's reasons for resenting the United States.
* That one author "soft pedals the Arab countries' role in initiating hostilities in 1948."
* That in at least one instance, CFNS researchers believe Christianity is put in a negative light, whereas Islam is shown in a positive light.
As Salon.com's Justin Elliot has pointed out, the group also has a "task force" devoted to the following:
TASK FORCE 4. Identify "Islamic" businesses, social and religious organizations, schools, etc. throughout North America.
Elliot comments: "Note that's not qualified as 'extremist' or 'terrorist' -- just 'Islamic,' with inexplicable scare quotes. Can this be described as anything other than outright bigotry?"