Media Amplifies Voices of Hate in Ground Zero Mosque Debate
Interview with Peter Hart, director of activism, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, conducted by Scott Harris
Controversy over the location of a proposed Islamic community center two blocks from ground zero in New York City, erupted into a late summer firestorm with possible political consequences in this November's midterm congressional election. Plans for the building include a culinary school, an auditorium, a swimming pool, a basketball court, and space for prayer. The Park51 project, as it's known, is being led by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a Suffi Muslim, who was selected as an emissary to the Middle East on behalf of the Bush administration in 2007 -- and continues to participate in State Department trips abroad to foster better understanding of religion in U.S. society.
Opponents of the Islamic center assert that the site is too close to hallowed ground where more than 2,700 people were killed during al Qaeda's Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Supporters of the project respond that condemning all of Islam for the 9/11 attacks is based on ignorance -- and back the Imam's stated goal of building bridges across religious lines. But inflammatory media coverage of the controversy has amplified the voices of hate and intolerance with, for example, Fox News commentator Dick Morris condemning the building project as a "command center for terrorism," and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich comparing Islam with Nazism.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Peter Hart, Activism Director with the media-watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, or FAIR. Hart assesses the corporate media's coverage of the ground zero Islamic Center controversy by examining many news outlets' culpability for disseminating misinformation and a failure to forcefully respond to smears and innuendo.
Contact FAIR at (212) 633-6700 (212) 633-6700 or visit their website at fair.org.
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