Wolf Blitzer attributed the "raging controversy" over Rep.-elect Keith Ellison's reported intention to use a copy of the Quran in his swearing-in ceremony to Ellison rather than those who have denounced Ellison.
On the December 21 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer attributed a "raging controversy" to Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN) for his reported intention to use a copy of the Quran as part of his swearing-in ceremony -- rather than attributing it to those who have denounced Ellison. Blitzer's comments came while reporting on a letter written by Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) attacking Muslims and Ellison. Blitzer stated that Ellison's "plans to use the Quran in the swearing-in ceremony have touched off a raging controversy." Blitzer also suggested that Ellison was "war[ring]" with Goode.
Blitzer's suggestion that Ellison was to blame echoed Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus, who, as Media Matters for America noted, said she thought it was "a little bit strange" that "we're focusing on" Goode instead of Ellison on the December 21 edition of MSNBC News Live.
Earlier, Blitzer did note that it was Goode who was stirring up controversy: "Virgil Goode is warning a soon-to-be colleague ... not to use the Quran at his swearing-in ceremony, and Goode says he wants to keep other Muslims out of the United States. Will Goode stick to his guns?" CNN correspondent Brian Todd did likewise: "Mr. Goode has generated, as you say, a lot of controversy over that particular letter." In a later report, Todd added that he visited Rocky Mount, Virginia, to see if "Representative Goode could clarify any of his recent remarks that have stirred up so much controversy."
However, in Blitzer's second comment on the issue, he said it was Ellison who "touched off controversy recently when he indicated he'd include the Quran as part of his swearing-in ceremony," while Goode "has done his best to add to the controversy." Blitzer also called the issue "a Quran controversy and a growing war of words."
As the weblog TPMMuckraker noted, the blog Waldo Jaquith posted a controversial letter by Goode saying: "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America." In the letter, Goode also attacked Ellison: "[I]f American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran."
In contrast with some of Blitzer's coverage, other media outlets have laid blame for the controversy on a conservative columnist who criticized Ellison, and not Ellison. As a December 7 article in The Christian Science Monitor noted, it was Townhall.com columnist Dennis Prager's November 28 column about Ellison's intention that "sparked a brouhaha on talk radio, in the blogosphere, and in newspapers across the country." Since the November 28 column, Prager has appeared on MSNBC's Tucker, Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, and CNN's Paula Zahn Now to talk about Ellison's intention to use the Quran.
Onscreen graphics during The Situation Room also suggested that Ellison's decision was to blame for the controversy or stated that Ellison was fighting Goode. Relevant onscreen text read: "Quran Controversy," "Goode vs. Ellison," "Ellison vs. Goode," Controversy Over Ellison's Plan to Use Quran for Swearing In," "War of Words," "Quran Oath," "Bigoted Comments?" and "Goode's Remarks Called 'Islamophobic' ":
From the December 22 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode is warning a soon-to-be colleague, Minnesota's Keith Ellison, not to use the Quran at his swearing-in ceremony, and Goode says he wants to keep other Muslims out of the United States.
Will Goode stick to his guns?
Democratic Congressman-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Muslim, touched off controversy recently when he indicated he'd include the Quran as part of his swearing-in ceremony next month.
Republican Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia has done his best to add to the controversy now, calling for immigration policies that would keep Muslims out of this country.
Let's get the latest now from CNN's Brian Todd.
He's joining us live from Rocky Mount, Virginia -- Brian.
TODD: Wolf, we're expecting to hear any moment now from Congressman Virgil Goode, the Republican from this district in southern Virginia. Up to this moment, he has stood by -- at least through his aides -- stood by comments that he made in a letter to a constituent a couple of weeks back, where he really slammed the request by incoming Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. That request by Mr. Ellison to use the Quran in his swearing-in.
Mr. Goode has generated, as you say, a lot of controversy over that particular letter.
BLITZER: Happening now, a Quran controversy and a growing war of words -- a Republican congressman is refusing to back down from remarks about Muslims many people are saying are simply offensive. And more lawmakers are now weighing in on plans by one congressman-elect to take his oath on Islam's holy book.
BLITZER: Controversy growing over the use of the Quran for a congressional swearing-in, and one lawmaker, Virginia Republican Virgil Goode, coming under fire for remarks that many people are saying are personally very offensive.
At issue -- plans by Muslim Democratic Congressman-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota to take the oath of office on the Quran in his private ceremony. Now other lawmakers are weighing in.
BLITZER: His plans to use the Quran in the swearing-in ceremony have touched off a raging controversy. One soon-to-be colleague now wants to keep Muslims out of the country. I'll have an exclusive interview with Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress.
TODD: Wolf, we came down to this small town today to see if Representative Goode could clarify any of his recent remarks that have stirred up so much controversy. Well, he certainly did clarify them. He's not only unrepentant, he's outright defiant.