August 27, 2010: Fair and Balanced: Did you ever marvel over the media’s occasional “fact check” pieces? Never made much sense to me. Any disinformation about a topic would have been provided by the same media that now wants to “fact check.” What makes anyone think the “fact check” piece would be more trustworthy than the original biased reporting that led to the perceived need to have a “fact check”? Seems to me if an editor or reporter wants to “fact check” something, they must be mad or upset or dissatisfied with the way most people are responding to an event, despite their most diligent efforts to manipulate that response. Being “upset” or “dissatisfied,” it would seem, does not lead to honest, disinterested reporting -- the purported ideal for journalistic integrity. As the Weekly Standard noted last fall, “it was not a disinterested devotion to the truth that led the Associated Press to assign 11 reporters to ‘fact check’ Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue—a level of scrutiny never before applied to a politician’s memoir. And by the way, don’t waste your time looking for AP’s ‘fact check’ of either of Barack Obama’s memoirs.”
At any rate, the Standard points out that during the week of August 20th, the AP put out another “fact check,” this time on the issue of the mosque proposed for Ground Zero with the following lede:
A New York imam and his proposed mosque near ground zero are being demonized by political candidates—mostly Republicans—despite the fact that Islam is already very much a part of the World Trade Center neighborhood. And that Muslims pray inside the Pentagon, too, less than 80 feet from where terrorists attacked.
Should the word “demonize” be used in something called a “fact check”? Why couldn’t opponents of the mosque simply be “criticizing” political candidates like Mayor Bloomberg or Attorney General Cuomo, who support the mosque? Does any criticism of these folks amount to “demonization”? Who determines whether someone is being “criticized” or “demonized”? And last time I checked, only around 31 percent of American’s call themselves “Republican,” but roughly 70 percent of Americans oppose the building of the mosque at the proposed Ground Zero site. So it can’t be “mostly Republicans” who are “demonizing” (mostly Democratic) political candidates who support the construction of the mosque. This is really just pure bigotry on the part of the leftist supporters of the mosque who, as Dennis Prager points out here, have spewed forth an endless stream of bile about opponents of the mosque. One definition of bigotry is to ascribe to a single group of people a set of negative characteristics actually present in significant quantities in the population at large. Some of you might remember that William F. Buckley removed Patrick J. Buchanan as a contributor to the National Review magazine after he said, in 1991 before the Gulf War to remove Sadaam Hussein's forces from neighboring Kuwait, "There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in The Middle East – the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States." In fact, polls showed roughly 85 percent of the American public supported the Gulf War at the time Buchanan made this accusation on the McLaughlin Group television show. Buckley had been considering charges of anti-Semitism against Buchanan, and decided that this statement was the final proof necessary to vanquish Buchanan from the magazine. The left, then, is guilty of bigotry in the mosque case, this time against mosque opponents and Republicans. If you think I’m wrong, here is a list of statements by left wing critics about mosque opponents collected by Dennis Prager.
Michael Kinsley, editor at large, The Atlantic: "Is there any reason to oppose the mosque that isn't bigoted, or demagogic, or unconstitutional? None that I've heard or read."
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times Blog, Aug. 19, 2010: "The far right wing has seized on the issue as an occasion for fanning hatred against Muslims."
Tony Norman, columnist, Pittsburgh Post Gazette: "... a handful of politicians who cynically conflate the religion of American Muslims with the nihilism of the 9/11 terrorists."
Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic blog: "The pursuit of power through demagoguery."
Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York (in a column titled "America Has Disgraced Itself"): "In today's GOP, even bigotry doesn't spare you from bigotry."
"GOP leaders call them (those building the mosque) terrorists because they don't share Benjamin Netanyahu's view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
"And oh yes, my fellow Jews, who are so thrilled to be locked arm in arm with the heirs of Pat Robertson and Father Coughlin against the Islamic threat."
And in a Politico column titled "Decency Lost": "Republicans are clawing over each other to demonize Muslims."
HuffingtonPost, Allison Kilkenny: "This mock piety is really a cover for Islamophobia."
"Indeed, America is extremely hostile -- not only to Islam -- but to anyone who gives off the air of being exotic, or different."
"Xenophobia is really a convenient cover for a deeper bigotry."
HuffingtonPost, James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute: "Shame. Your bigoted appeals to fear and intolerance disgrace us all and put our country at risk in the world."
HuffingtonPost, Michael Hughes: "Even more hideous is the way in which these bigots try to hide their overt prejudice in the emotional guise of love and caring, purportedly because they believe we must be 'sensitive' to the families of the victims of 9/11."
New York Times editorial: "Republican ideologues, predictably ... spew more of their intolerant rhetoric.
"The country ignores such cynicism and ugliness at its own peril."
"Too many Republican leaders are determined to whip up as much false controversy and anguish as they can."
New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof: "Why do so many Republicans find strip clubs appropriate for the ground zero neighborhood but object to a house of worship?"
"(They) are cynically turning the Islamic center into a nationwide issue in hopes of votes. ... They're just like the Saudi officials who ban churches, and even confiscate Bibles, out of sensitivity to local feelings."
"Today's crusaders against the Islamic community center are promoting a similar paranoid intolerance."
Keith Olbermann, MSNBC: "(The) country has begun to run on a horrible fuel of hatred -- magnified, amplified, multiplied, by politicians and zealots, within government and without."
New York Times columnist Frank Rich: "This month's incessant and indiscriminate orgy of Muslim-bashing."
"So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right -- abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League ..."
August 21, 2010: John Fund of the Wall Street Journal has an excellent profile of pollster Scott Rasmussen (“The Insurgent Pollster”). Rasmussen believes the questions most pollsters ask the public have assumptions built into the questions that most voters don’t agree with, and are therefore inaccurate.
“Many pollsters have asked voters whether policy makers should spend more to improve the economy or reduce spending to cut the deficit. But I found that 52% of Americans think more government spending hurts the economy and only 28% think it helps,” he says. “The trade-offs pollsters offer voters often don't make sense to them. How you frame the question often obscures the results you get.”
Rasmussen also makes the case that the divide between a shrinking “political class” and the “mainstream public” is growing. He also tells how he identifies both groups.
To figure out where people are, he asks three questions: Whose judgment do you trust more: that of the American people or America's political leaders? Has the federal government become its own special interest group? Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors? Those who identify with the government on two or more questions are defined as the political class.
Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree with the mainstream view on Mr. Rasmussen's three questions. "The major division in this country is no longer between parties but between political elites and the people," Mr. Rasmussen says.
August 20, 2010: MFP fave Charles Krauthammer reveals the fatuousness of liberal equivocation on the Ground Zero Mosque (the Associated Press is no longer calling it the Ground Zero Mosque), to wit:
At least Richard Cohen of The Post tries to grapple with the issue of sanctity and sensitivity. The results, however, are not pretty. He concedes that putting up a Japanese cultural center at Pearl Harbor would be offensive but then dismisses the analogy to Ground Zero because 9/11 was merely "a rogue act, committed by 20 or so crazed samurai.”
Obtuseness of this magnitude can only be deliberate. These weren't crazies. They were . . . the leading, and most successful, operatives of a worldwide movement of radical Islamists with cells in every continent, with worldwide support, with a massive media and propaganda arm, and with an archipelago of local sympathizers, financial and theological as in northwestern Pakistan, who protect and guard them. Read more.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer sits in his Washington office. Photo: John Shinkle
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