Last night, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) appeared on Fox News’s The Sean Hannity Show. While Ellison was prepared to debate a variety of issues from current affairs, Hannity used the opportunity to confront the congressman about comments he had previously made accusing the network of inciting racial and ethnic animosity and Islamophobia. Ellison at first tried to say that he didn’t want to get into an argument about Fox News, but eventually said that the station tries to always associate terrorism with Muslims, failing to appease Hannity, who said it was “offensive” to say Fox incites religious or ethnic animosity:
HANNITY: Well, you actually called out Fox News. You said in a BBC interview, you said that I think that if you listen to Fox News, the station 24/7 is trying to incite and divide Americans along religious lines, scapegoating the Muslim community, and this is a sort of a well-worn, right-wing tactic. Can you give me a specific example?
ELLISON: Well you know Sean, I tell ya, you know you do this show, you know what you guys broadcast all the time, I mean, I stand by the statement. [...]
HANNITY: This is an incredible charge, this is a charge of bigotry! [...] I’m offended by what you say, and if that’s an accusation of religious intolerance, we’re scapegoating the Muslim community, nothing is further from the truth, and I’d like one example. [...]
ELLISON: I’ll give you one example. One example is that after the King hearings, the hearings that Peter King did, you referred to, you talk about, every time you talk about terrorists and radicalization, you always attached the word Muslim to it, or Islamic.
In response to Hannity’s claim that it is “nothing further than the truth” to say that Fox incites religious intolerance, here’s a far from comprehensive list of some of Fox News’s worst moments of inciting racial and ethnic animosity:
- Fox Host John Gibson Said We “Need More Babies” Because The Majority Of Americans May Be Hispanic In 25 Years [5/12/06]
- Fox Host Steve Doocy Claimed Barack Obama Went To A “Madrassa” And Was Possibly A Muslim Extremist [1/19/07]
- Fox News Managing Editor Said Barack Obama Had “Fairly Controversial” Views About “The White Race” [3/28/08]
- Fox News Host Brian Kilmeade Suggested “Special Screenings” For Muslim American Soldiers After The Fort Hood Shootings [11/7/09]
- Fox News Host Blamed Desecration Of A Tennessee Mosque On The “Stubbornness” Of Muslims Building A Community Center In New York City [8/24/10]
- Fox News Immediately Hired Disgraced NPR Commentator Juan Williams, Who Was Let Go For Making Insensitive Comments About Muslims [10/21/10]
- Fox Host Glenn Beck Said The 3/5 Compromise Was A “Way To Take A Step To Abolish Slavery” [1/6/11]
- Fox Host Glenn Beck Claimed That The Pro-Democracy Movement In Egypt Was Evidence Of A Muslim-Marxist Conspiracy To Establish An Islamic Caliphate [2/11/11]
All of this racially and ethnically insensitive broadcasting may have had a negative effect on the views of the station’s audience. A recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute found that there is a “a significant correlation between trust in Fox News and negative attitudes about Muslims.”
Former Think Progress staffer Matt Corley points out this interview with Fox head Roger Ailes where he engaged in a bit of Islamophobia himself: “He went on, “Nowhere in the Time magazine interview do they say, ‘Mr. Chirac, do you have any business dealings with Iraq? Mr. Chirac, is there a one-hundred-and-twenty-billion-dollar oil contract with Iraq? Mr. Chirac, weren’t you the guy that went over and set up a nuclear reactor?…How about the seven million Muslims down the street that are going to blow up the Eiffel Tower? Does that bother you?’ There are a few other questions that a few other good journalists would work into the interview.”