By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America
Posted on August 25, 2010, Printed on August 25, 2010
Same chorus, different song.
One month after launching a jaw-dropping campaign of racial discord and warning of a looming, Obama-led “race war,” Fox News and the far-right media have turned the page of the hate hymnal and embraced a new enemy: Muslims.
Yes, the bigotry is off the charts. Yes, the purposeful misinformation is almost too plentiful to catalog. And yes, once the again the mainstream press remains mostly mum about the upsetting spectacle being played out for all to see.
The so-called “debate” in the press about the proposed Islamic center for downtown Manhattan is not a serious one. Just like the ‘debate’ in the press about racism and Shirley Sherrod was not serious. And just like the ‘debate’ in the press about Michelle Obama’s vacation was not serious. They’re not debates. They’re hate-based witch hunts sponsored by the right wing, and reporters and pundits ought to have the guts to point that fact out.
When is the press going to acknowledge that the rules have changed, and these naked smear campaigns being launched by Fox News and the far-right press have no precedent in our politics and, more importantly, they’re changing the way our news agenda is being set?
I mean, c’mon. Pam Geller is now acting as our nation’s newsroom assignment editor?
Yes, cover the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center — it’s a legitimate story. But in the process, don’t play dumb about the proud hate rhetoric that’s driving so much of the story. Don’t play dumb about the vicious Muslim-bashing that’s front-and-center on Fox News as it rallies its base to loathe Arab-Americans, just as it seemed to rally its base to loathe African-Americans last month.
Rather than doing the right thing, the press has taken a pass and pretended the hysterical, relentless religious bigotry that’s been let loose by the GOP press isn’t newsworthy or deeply troubling. The media silence is deafening and depressing. (And yes, exceptions are noted and appreciated.)
Trust me, folks at Fox News and friends get the message: Full steam ahead!
Eric Boehlert is is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America. He’s the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006) and Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press (Free Press, 2009). He worked for five years as a senior writer for Salon.com, where he wrote extensively about media and politics.
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