Fox News: Where you can bash Islam with impunity

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG & SOLANGE UWIMANA

In the wake of NPR's decision to terminate Juan Williams' contract following controversial remarks he made about Muslims on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Media Matters provides a retrospective of the many anti-Muslim statements made on Fox News or by Fox News personalities.

Recent anti-Muslim remarks follow long history of intolerance on Fox and from Fox personalities

O'Reilly: "Muslims killed us on 9-11." During an appearance on the October 14 edition of ABC's The View, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was asked by co-host Whoopi Goldberg why building an Islamic cultural center near ground zero was "inappropriate." O'Reilly responded: "Because Muslims killed us on 9-11." The remark prompted Goldberg and co-host Joy Behar to walk off the set. O'Reilly later said, "If anybody felt I was demeaning all Muslims, I apologize." Appearing on Fox News' Glenn Beck later that day, O'Reilly claimed that "every opinion poll in the Muslim world" shows that "most Muslims don't believe 9-11 was even committed by Al Qaeda." Following the controversy over O'Reilly's View remarks, Fox News hosts and commentators rushed to his defense.

Brian Kilmeade: "[A]ll terrorists are Muslims." On the October 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade defended O'Reilly's View comments by claiming the show's hosts "were outraged that somebody was saying there's a reason -- there was a certain group of people that attacked us on 9-11. It wasn't just one person. It was one religion. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims." Kilmeade later repeated the false claim that "every terrorist is a Muslim" on his radio show. He also asked if "Americans have a right to look at moderate Muslims and say, 'Show me you're not one of them,' " referring to terrorists. On October 18, Kilmeade said: "I misspoke. I don't believe all terrorists are Muslims. I'm sorry about that, if I offended ... or hurt anybody's feelings. But that's it." He also revised his remarks on the October 18 edition of his radio show.

O'Reilly: "[T]here is a Muslim problem in the world." On the October 18 edition of his Fox News program, O'Reilly stated that "folks are fed up with politically correct nonsense. There's no question there is a Muslim problem in the world" and "most Americans well understand the danger coming out of the Muslim world." His on-screen text read: "The Muslim Dilemma." The next day, O'Reilly repeated the claim that there is "a Muslim problem in the world."

O'Reilly: "Our liberal media" are "buying into the genteel Islam." On the October 5 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly said that "our liberal media ... now are buying into the genteel Islam. You saw that with the mosque controversy. See, they now are taking the European media approach -- 'Oh, wait a minute. You have to give peace a chance. You can't be stirring up trouble because they're Muslim people. You have to give them what they want.' "

Fox News figures baselessly claimed Islamic center would be a "command center for terrorism." On the September 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer said of the Park51 Islamic center, "It could also be the first stop for a radical jihadist who comes to America who wants to go pray." On the August 18 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Dick Morris said of Park51: "These Sharia mosques ... have become the command centers for terrorism," adding, "So this one would be, too." The next day, Morris made similar remarks on Fox & Friends; during the show, Fox Business host Eric Bolling also claimed that Park51 "may be a meeting place for some of the scariest minds -- some of the biggest terrorist minds." Kilmeade later said of Park51: "The next Hamburg cell could be right downtown."

Peter Johnson Jr.: New York Muslims should "give up their rights" in order to be "good neighbors." Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. stated on the August 20 edition of Fox & Friends that the issue of the Park51 Islamic center is "about neighbors becoming good neighbors." He added: "Any American can assert a right. Great Americans give up their rights to help those they share nothing else with but a love of this country." On September 3, Johnson repeated that those building the Islamic center should "give up their First Amendment rights."

Beck asked: "[A]fter you've killed 3,000 people, you're going to now build your mosque?" On his August 18 radio show, Glenn Beck said of Park51: "You look for things that are uniting, and I'm sorry, but the Cordoba Project is not uniting. If you wanted to unite people, you don't spit in their face. You don't spit in their face. On the 10th anniversary, after you've killed 3,000 people, you're going to now build your mosque on -- there, really?" Beck has repeatedly falsely claimed that Park51 was scheduled to open on September 11, 2011. He has also referred to the Islamic center as "the 9-11 mosque" and has wondered if it is "a possibility" that Park51's location is about "inoculation."

Fox hosted Walid Shoebat, who previously called Islam "the devil." On August 18, Fox & Friends hosted Walid Shoebat, a born-again Christian who dubiously claims to be a former PLO militant and who has reportedly called Islam "the devil." Shoebat has also asked: "If Islam is not playing the major role in Antichrist spirit, why do you think the devil wants to appoint somebody connected to Islam in the White House?" During his Fox appearance, Shoebat claimed Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim leader spearheading the Park51 project, expresses his "support for terrorism" in the Arabic press but pretends to support peace when speaking to Americans. Two Islamic studies experts told Media Matters that Shoebat's claim was false. Fox News also hosted Shoebat to attack the Islamic center on August 23 and August 27, according to Nexis.

Gingrich compared Islamic center to "Nazis" putting a "sign next to the Holocaust museum." On the August 16 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich said: "Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There's no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."

Fox News guests opposing Islamic center outnumber supporters 35 to 11. An August 13 Media Matters review of Fox News' evening coverage of the planned building of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero found that, since May, the shows have hosted at least 47 guests to discuss the project, nearly 75 percent of whom opposed the center.

Fox repeatedly hosted anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Pam Geller. Fox News repeatedly hosted Atlas Shrugs blogger Pam Geller to discuss the controversy over Park51 despite the fact that she has made outrageous statements about President Obama and Islam and has pushed false conspiracy theories. On the August 11 edition of Fox & Friends, Geller compared building the Islamic cultural center near ground zero to building a Ku Klux Klan "shrine" near a black church in Alabama.

Kilmeade asked if the "Islamic community" is "gloating" by building Park51 near Ground Zero. On May 26, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said: "Six-hundred feet from World Tower 1, World Trade Center 1 stood -- is this gloating on the part of the Islamic community?" Guest Andrew McCarthy said that this was "Islamist supremacism" and that "well-meaning people would understand that this is an affront to common sense." Kilmeade had previously described the Islamic center plans as "an outrage" and accused Muslims of "taunting" 9-11 victims. Geller has a long history of making outrageous accusations and getting the facts wrong.

Fox News figures defended Franklin Graham after Pentagon rescinded invitation due to his anti-Muslim rhetoric. Following the 9-11 attacks, evangelist Franklin Graham said: "We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. ... The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion." During an interview with The Washington Post's Sally Quinn, Graham said that he "never backed down from" his controversial comments that Islam is a "very evil and wicked religion." He added: "True Islam cannot be practiced in this country, OK? It cannot. If you were my wife, I can beat you, OK, because you didn't want to have sex with me or whatever."

When the Pentagon rescinded Graham's invitation to speak on the National Day of Prayer, numerous Fox News figures came to his defense, and Fox & Friends hosted Graham to respond. During the show, Graham urged Muslims to convert to Christianity and said: "I want them to know that they don't have to die in a car bomb; they don't have to die in some kind of holy war to be accepted by God, but it's through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone."

Fox News' Crowder: "The truth is that Muslims tend to be more violent than Christians." In discussing the Army's decision to rescind Graham's invitation to speak on the National Day of Prayer, Fox News contributor Steven Crowder declared: "The truth is that Muslims tend to be more violent than Christians."

Fox hosted Michael Graham, who previously called Islam "a terrorist organization." To comment on Franklin Graham and the controversy over his attacks on Islam, America's Newsroom hosted conservative radio host Michael Graham despite the fact that he was reportedly fired by WMAL-AM "after he refused to soften his description of Islam as 'a terrorist organization' on the air." The Washington Post reported on August 23, 2005: "According to WMAL, Graham said 'Islam is a terrorist organization' 23 times on his July 25 program. On the same show, he also said repeatedly that 'moderate Muslims are those who only want to kill Jews' and that 'the problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam.' "

Fox & Friends baselessly suggested two Muslim scholars are "terrorists." On March 30, Fox & Friends baselessly suggested that Muslim scholars Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib -- who were both denied entry into the United States under the Bush administration but had the ban lifted by the Obama administration -- are "terrorists." However, both have denied engaging in terrorist activity, neither was ever charged with any crime, and media accounts have noted that they "were denied admittance after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy." Co-host Steve Doocy said: "President Bush banned these two guys from the United States because of alleged ties to terror, but Hillary Clinton invited them back and now they're speaking to college kids about their life story. What's that about?" An on-screen graphic included the text: "Terrorist to Lecture?"

Coulter: "If all Muslims would boycott airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether." On the March 25 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, frequent Fox News guest Ann Coulter claimed that "if all Muslims would boycott airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether." Coulter defended her position on racial profiling by saying "it's insane, when you have limited resources, to be searching every single person at airport security."

McInerney: "If you are an 18- to 28-year-old Muslim man, then you should be strip-searched." On the January 2 edition of America's News HQ, Fox News contributor retired Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said that "we have to use profiling. And I mean be very serious and harsh about the profiling. If you are an 18- to 28-year-old Muslim man, then you should be strip-searched. And if we don't do that, there's a very high probability we're going to lose an airliner." After host Julie Banderas noted that profiling would be "essentially singling out people because of a religious group," McInerney responded, "If that age group doesn't like it, then what are they doing to stop this jihad against the West?"

Kilmeade: Muslims "have to understand" being profiled because of "the war that was declared on us." On the November 10, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said to Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham: "You get a chance to talk to a lot of Islamic experts, and Muslim experts, and people who understand the Quran, and I asked him one time, off camera, I said, 'How do you feel about the extra scrutiny, clearly, you're getting at the airports?' And he said, 'I'm all for it, because I want to get home to my family, too.' And that's really got to be the attitude. So, if you're Islamic, or you're Muslim and you're in the military, you have to understand."

Peters: "I am sick of hearing that Islam is a religion of peace. ... I haven't seen a lot of Southern Baptist suicide bombers." On the September 10, 2009, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that "the elite liberal media in America does not want to continue to whip up anti-Islamic fascism sentiment." Fox News contributor Ralph Peters responded: "No, they'd rather whip up anti-Israeli sentiment." Peters added: "I am sick of hearing that Islam -- well, Islam is a religion of peace. Well, if Islam is a religion of peace, fine, start acting peacefully. But I haven't seen a lot of Southern Baptist suicide bombers lately, and I will not stand for moral relativism. 9-11 wasn't our fault -- it was fanatics who attacked our country because they hate what we stand for."

Peters on Fort Hood shooting: "It's clear that the problem is Islam." On the November 10, 2009, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Peters criticized Obama's remarks on the Fort Hood shooting, in which Obama called the act "incomprehensible," saying: "No, it wasn't hard to comprehend and it's not now. It was the act of an Islamist terrorist" who "believed he was doing the will of Allah in accordance with the Quran. Not hard to understand -- the evidence is there." Peters concluded: "It's clear that the problem is Islam." Peters also alleged that the shooter was a "protected species" who was "running around in his little Islamist suit."

Fox hosts, guest blame Fort Hood shooting on "political correctness," call for "special debriefings" of American Muslims. Right-wing media figures used the shooting at Fort Hood as an excuse to attack Islam and American Muslims, in particular. Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin blamed the shooting on "political correctness"; Gretchen Carlson asked: "Could it be that our own military is so politically correct right now ... to be careful about treatment of Muslims that they would have allowed this to go by?" and Kilmeade suggested that "it's time for the military to have special debriefings" for Muslim American soldiers to prevent future attacks.

Doocy: "All of the people who try to blow airliners out of the sky pretty much look alike." On the February 16, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, former Homeland Security research analyst Michael Hoffman claimed that "if you want to prevent another airline being blown up, you're gonna have to do full-body imaging or full-body patdowns, coupled with profiling. Otherwise, we're going to blow another airline up." Doocy responded: "Every time we go through, my wife and I, go through airport, she gets a full-body patdown ... even though she does not look like what we have presumed the people who want to blow up airlines look like." He added: "Critics argue, when you think about it, for the most part, all the people who try to blow airliners out of the sky pretty much look alike."

Bo Dietl: We have to profile "guys that look like Aba Daba Doo and Aba Daba Dah." On the August 7, 2007, edition of Fox News' Your World, Fox News contributor Richard "Bo" Dietl asserted: "We know there's a war by fundamentalists and terrorists to kill us. So we have to be able to profile. And I'm sorry, if I see two guys that look like Aba Daba Doo and Aba Daba Dah, I'm gonna pull 'em over, and I wanna find out what you're doing." Dietl had previously said that if a Muslim detonated a nuclear bomb in the United States "you think the president of the United States would make a statement if there's another nuclear bomb, we're going to bomb Mecca, we're gonna bomb the most religious places. This is a holy war." He has also said on Fox News that "Muslim Turks" are trying to "overpopulize" Germany.

Hannity suggested Rep. Ellison's use of Quran for swearing-in was like using "Nazi bible" Mein Kampf. On the November 30, 2006, edition of Hannity & Colmes, host Sean Hannity claimed that Rep. Keith Ellison's reported intention to use a copy of the Quran during the ceremonial photo op on the day he was to be sworn in "will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones." He also suggested that using the Quran for a swearing-in is comparable to using "Hitler's Mein Kampf, which is the Nazi bible."

Doocy: "Islam turned violent" and "proved the pope's point" about "Islam and violence." On November 28, 2006, Doocy asserted that when "Islam turned violent" following controversial comments by Pope Benedict XVI's about the religion, it "essentially proved the pope's point." In a speech, Pope Benedict quoted "the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus," as the pope described him, saying, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Pope Benedict later apologized, saying "he was 'very sorry' about the reaction to his remarks," adding: "In no way did I wish to make my own, the words of the medieval emperor. ... I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together."

Beck to Rep. Ellison: "[W]hat I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' " On the November 14, 2006, edition of his then-CNN Headline News program, Beck interviewed then-Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, who became the first Muslim ever elected to Congress on November 7, and asked Ellison if he could "have five minutes here where we're just politically incorrect and I play the cards up on the table." After Ellison agreed, Beck said: "I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' " Beck added: "I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way."

O'Reilly advocated profiling of all "Muslims between the ages of 16 and 45," but not "racial profiling." On the August 16, 2006, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly argued extensively for "profiling of Muslims" at airports, saying that detaining all "Muslims between the ages of 16 and 45" for questioning "isn't racial profiling," but "criminal profiling."

Beck: Muslims who have not "lin[ed] up to shoot the bad Muslims in the head" will face dire consequences. On the August 10, 2006, broadcast of his radio program, Beck warned that "[t]he world is on the brink of World War III" and that "Muslims who have sat on your frickin' hands the whole time and have not been marching in the streets" will face dire consequences. Beck directed his comments toward Muslims who he claimed "have not been saying, 'Hey, you know what? There are good Muslims and bad Muslims. We need to be the first ones in the recruitment office lining up to shoot the bad Muslims in the head.' "

Beck presented segment mocking Egyptian students' names. On the August 9, 2006, edition of his CNN Headline News program, Beck aired a segment mocking the names of several missing Egyptian students in which the announcer said that one "may or may not be accompanied by his camel." The segment showed pictures of crowds and pointed to random, unidentifiable people as the missing Egyptians. It ended with a reading of the students' names in quick succession followed by the announcer pretending to gag as he struggled to pronounce them. The announcer then said: "If you know the whereabouts of these men, please call the FBI immediately. If you know how to correctly pronounce their names, well, call us."

Coulter: Islam is "a car-burning cult." In a column commenting on the recent violence linked to the Danish cartoons that satirized the Prophet Muhammad, Coulter suggested that Islam is "a car-burning cult" and wrote that Muslims have "a predilection for violence."

O'Reilly: Closing public schools for Muslim holiday "absurd in a Judeo-Christian country." On the October 27, 2005, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly called the idea of closing public schools for the observance of Muslim holidays "absurd in a Judeo-Christian country." O'Reilly was discussing the decision by the Hillsborough County, Florida, school board to keep public schools open on Yom Kippur and Good Friday during the 2006-2007 school year following a request by Hillsborough County Muslims to close schools on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr. Instead of giving students the day off on Eid Al-Fitr, however, the school board voted to keep schools open on Yom Kippur and Good Friday during the 2006-2007 school year.

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