To most Americans, the battle over the Ground Zero mosque is about honoring the victims of 9/11. To those in the news media, the numbers tell a different story.
For weeks on end, news outlets have parroted the most left-wing talking points – crying “racism” or “Islamophobia” in an attempt to paint mosque opponents as bigots. The media’s attack on Americans who still remember what happened on Sept. 11 2001, could be called a crusade. But that word that makes you a pro-Western bigot in their eyes.
So let’s call it what it is – jihad. An out-and-out pro-Islamist assault on American values. In a term they might understand, it’s Americaphobia.
And it’s failing miserably. The numbers tell the tale better than most network journalists. A Time magazine poll from Aug. 16-17 showed 61 percent of Americans nationwide still oppose this mosque despite the best efforts of the Washington elites of all three major political parties – Democrats, Republicans and Journalists.
And even that poll question has more spin than the top in the movie “Inception.” Here it is: “Overall, do you favor or oppose the building of the Muslim community center and mosque near where the World Trade Center stood?" That certainly embraces the media viewpoint – however inaccurate – that it’s more “community center” than mosque.
Every church I’ve ever attended has had numerous facilities – schools and gyms and cafeterias and more. Yet every one of them was called one thing – a church. Sure, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf might try to model his mosque on the Jewish Community Center, but that isn’t the issue. The mosque is.
It’s an issue that resonates with a huge chunk of Americans from all walks of life – right wing, left wing, Christian and Muslim. The only group that doesn’t believe it’s an issue is journalists. So they twist and manipulate the story in dozens of ways so it turns out their way.
Only it hasn’t. The unseen hand of journalism manipulating American democracy is no longer unseen, nor is it as effective as it once was. But that hasn’t stopped the media from trying its best.
The Associated Press “Standards Center” issued a “staff advisory on covering New York City mosque” on Aug. 19 as just one piece of that spin. “We should continue to avoid the phrase ‘ground zero mosque’ or ‘mosque at ground zero’ on all platforms.”
Since that spin memo, finding the term “Ground Zero Mosque” on network news is all but impossible. Before the memo came out, journalists like ABC’s David Kerley were allowed to use it. On Aug. 15, there was Kerley talking about Obama “trying to steer through the treacherous waters of the Ground Zero Mosque” debate. “Early Today” host Lynn Berry talked about the “Ground Zero Mosque controversy.” Other reporters echoed the term.
But AP had to choose sides. To the great spinmeisters in that organization, a building near the World Trade Center that was actually damaged in the attack isn’t at Ground Zero. Had AP headquarters been in that building, you can bet they would have covered their own damage like it had been Ground Zero. It’s the terminology game reporters and editors play. Lefty terms like “pro-choice” are OK, but don’t dare say “pro-life.” Conservatives can be “far right” but try finding liberals who are “far left.”
That’s just one of the games journalists play. They can’t claim the mosque opposition is “bigoted” if Muslims oppose it as well, so those voices are almost never heard on network broadcasts. In the past month, ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows intereviewed Muslims 10 times for their mosque stories. Nine of those interviewed supported the mosque. Only one Muslim opponent was quoted. Other critics, such as the first Muslim Miss USA and the director of Al-Arabiya, a popular Arab-language news station, were ignored. They would have interfered with the prearranged news agenda. So would showing the hateful person who cursed out an anti-mosque protester who had survived the Holocaust.
That’s a consistent theme. The controversial imam who is pushing the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a “moderate” who wants only peace and even “eulogized Daniel Pearl.” His questionable funding, a refusal to call Hamas a terror group and his many controversial statements largely get a pass in the “news media.” Remember, this is the man who said: “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.”
If Rauf were a tea party supporter and blasting Obama, his views would lead the evening news.
Thankfully, fewer and fewer people care about the spin. While journalists go one way with their coverage, Americans are going another – to the exits. Just last week, the Big Three broadcast networks recorded less than 19 million viewers. CBS “Evening News” was watched by less than 5 million people. Yes, some have turned to those shows on the Internet. More often, they have simply been turned off by them.
That is the state of American journalism. No matter what issue is seizing the news – racism, the stimulus, health care reform, tea parties, the Ground Zero Mosque and more – journalists pick the most liberal side. It’s a sad reality that at the upper levels of journalism, they simply don’t like the America that many others love. Finally, America is returning the sentiment.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His writes frequently for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.
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Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.