Fox News' Shameless Christian Crusade
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The flip side to Fox News' embrace of Christianity is the distrustful eye it casts toward Islam, which the network treats less as a religion and more as a national security threat. Following the fatal shootings at Fort Hood by Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan, Fox News Watch demanded that the media identify Hassan as a Muslim, and link his faith to the attack. Host Jon Scott introduced a November 14 segment saying: "Details about the suspect were quick to surface, but most in the media were hesitant to link Major Nidal Malik Hasan, his Muslim faith, and the murders as a terrorist act." Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade announced that he wanted to see "special debriefings" of Muslim military officers, and frequent Fox News guest Ralph Peters said of the Ft. Hood shootings on The O'Reilly Factor: "It's clear that the problem is Islam."
On October 14, Special Report host Bret Baier credulously reported the ludicrous allegations of a few conspiracy-minded House Republicans that the Council on American-Islamic Relations was "infiltrating" Congress by "placing interns in key positions." To close out the New Year, Fox twice hosted Ann Coulter to resurrect the long-since debunked lie that President Obama was educated in a madrassa. (This is the same Ann Coulter who wrote of the Muslim world after 9-11: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.")
When not actively denigrating non-Christian faiths on its own, Fox News functions as a home and megaphone for religious bigots of all stripes. During the 2008 campaign, Sean Hannity played host to Andy Martin, whose outrageous invective against then-candidate Obama was outshined only by his venomous attacks on Jews -- he once called a judge who ruled against him a "crooked, slimy Jew, who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race." And then there's Jerome Corsi, another Hannity regular during 2008, who laid the foundation for his career of bigoted skullduggery with a series of FreeRepublic.com postings that smeared Muslims as "ragheads" and Catholics for "[b]oy buggering."
Of course, the idea that Fox News would take a clear side on any particular issue isn't exactly new -- they do a better job getting across Republican talking points than the other more official organs of the GOP. But there is something uniquely wrong about what ostensibly is a news organization taking sides on questions of faith, recruiting new members on the air, and proclaiming other faiths to be inadequate and a "problem."
Simon S. Maloy is a writer and researcher for Media Matters for America.