Earlier tonight, Bill O'Reilly pledged to defend his Fox News colleague, Glenn Beck, against "the people generating the attacks" against him -- which, they both agreed, "are gonna get worse" -- saying, "I have your back." Well, later on in the show, O'Reilly proved true to his word and did defend him -- by obscuring Beck's own statements that his rally would "reclaim the civil rights movement," which he said has been "corrupted" by progressives.
During an exchange with Al Sharpton, O'Reilly repeatedly deflected Sharpton's comments about how Beck promoted his rally as an effort to take back the civil rights movement from those he claims have "perverted" it. O'Reilly wanted to discuss solely what happened at the rally, rather than how Beck had previously tied it to the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy. When pressed by Sharpton, O'Reilly countered that Beck said "[h]e wants" the civil rights movement "for everybody" and that "[h]e says it every day on his radio show that Dr. Martin Luther King is not the sole property of African-Americans. That's the whole theme."
While Beck has repeatedly asserted that "Whites don't own Abraham Lincoln" and "Blacks don't own Martin Luther King," it is not the "whole theme," as O'Reilly suggested. Beck hasn't simply said he wants to share or join the civil rights movement -- he has said he wants to "reclaim" it, and that him and his followers are "the inheritors and the protectors of the civil rights movement," while people like Sharpton "are perverting it."
Sharpton went on to say to O'Reilly:
Laura Ingraham's December 2009 comments in which she speaks approvingly of the Park51 project are becoming quite the thorn in her side. During tonight's edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham tried -- again -- to explain her evolving position on the proposed Islamic community center to be built in Lower Manhattan.
Ingraham has previously said that her reversal was due to the "legitimate questions" that had arisen, which, as we pointed out, were nothing but the same smears and falsehoods that conservative pundits have been pushing for weeks. Tonight, Ingraham trotted out those same falsehoods and suggested that back in 2009, she had merely "supported assimilation," not the actual project itself.
However, Ingraham's guest, Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer, pointed out what Ingraham had said last year. Stringer stated that Ingraham "supported this," saying, "You told Daisy Khan -- you told them, on this show, in December 2009, you said, 'You're doing the right thing. You're doing great work.' ... You actually started this, Laura." Stringer went on to say:
STRINGER: You supported this -- and then you know what you did? You left the studio. ... You then left the studio and said, what did I -- what did I do? I didn't stick to the talking points. I have to now go back and reverse myself 'cause I need ratings. You agreed -- you agreed with them.
Two recently released polls show that an increasing number of Americans believe the falsehood that President Obama is a Muslim. According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of people who believe this false claim cite the media as the source of that information -- and, indeed, the right-wing media have incessantly promoted this lie.
As Talking Points Memo reported, former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson today expressed support for building an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, saying, "[I]t may not make me hap-- popular with some people, but I think probably the president was right about this."
Olson, as TPM noted, lost his wife, the late conservative author and activist Barbara Olson, on the day of the attacks. She was on board the hijacked plane flown into the Pentagon. Appearing on today's edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Olson said:
OLSON: Well, it may not make me popular with some people, but I think probably the president was right about this. I do believe that people of all religions have a right to build edifices, or structures, or places of religious worship or study, where the community allows them to do it under zoning laws and that sort of thing, and that we don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith. And I don't think it should be a political issue. It shouldn't be a Republican or Democratic issue, either. I believe Governor Christie from New Jersey said it well -- that this should not be in that political, partisan marketplace.
While hosting an iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan on August 14, President Obama stated: "As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable."
As we documented, Obama was roundly attacked by conservatives for his comments, with right-wing commentator Pamela Geller asserting that Obama "has, in effect, sided with the Islamic jihadists." Conservatives also responded to Obama's comments by falsely claiming that opponents of the proposed community center had not talked about restricting Muslims' religious freedom, when in fact they had.
Watch Olson's comments:
Conservative media have continued to accuse the imam leading the initiative to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan of being a "secret radical," pointing to his remark that "the United States' policies were an accessory" to the 9-11 attacks. In fact, Rauf has condemned terrorism and has been widely described as "moderate," and his comments on 9-11 are not outside the mainstream.
The right-wing media have found yet another way to keep their controversy surrounding a Manhattan Islamic center front and center -- by loudly trumpeting Hamas' apparent endorsement of the proposed mosque and thereby showing that the terrorist organization is on the same side as President Obama (the secret Muslim who -- as Pam Geller put it -- "has, in effect, sided with Islamic jihadists.")
In an interview aired Sunday on talk radio, Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar reportedly said that Muslims "have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy places." Zahar continued: "We have to build everywhere."
Predictably, conservative media quickly seized on the news: the New York Post -- "Hamas big backs mosque"; the Drudge Report -- "Mosque Mess Monday"; Fox Nation -- "Hamas Leader: Ground Zero Mosque must be built"; Atlas Shrugs' Pam Geller -- "Genocidal Hamas Backs Obama and Rauf on Ground Zero Mosque"; and, of course, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News' Glenn Beck.
But let's be clear: Hamas hardly "jumped" into the controversy, as the New York Post breathlessly claimed. It was cleverly dragged into it by none other than anti-Obama author Aaron Klein, the Jerusalem bureau chief of right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com -- the same website that has repeatedly suggested that Obama was born in Kenya and promoted a fraudulent Obama "Kenyan birth certificate." It was on Klein's WABC radio show that Zahar appeared.
Conservative media have falsely warned that a provision in the Wall Street regulatory reform law institutes racial quotas for hiring and used that claim to revisit the smear that lending to minorities caused the economic crisis. In fact, the law sets no racial or gender quotas for hiring or lending.
On his syndicated radio show last night, conservative talker Hugh Hewitt asked listeners to forgo marches between now and November, imploring them instead to donate that money to "candidates who support the right things." Hewitt said: "I know some of you are planning on going to marches between now and then. I sure wouldn't spend a dollar on going to a march. I really wouldn't. That's money. That's real, cash money that could be given to a candidate." Hewitt listed various Republican candidates to give money to including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, "a great governor," and Jane Norton of Colorado, whom he has especially endorsed.
But the most important conservative rally all year is Glenn Beck's upcoming "historic" Restoring Honor Rally on August 28 -- well, at least from Beck's perspective. For the past few months, we've been treated to the relentless refrain that this march -- this "turning point" in American history, rather -- "will be remembered as the moment America turned the corner." This is not just a "rally," you see; this is going to be "an iconic event" that will "reclaim the civil rights movement." Keep the rally "in your prayers," he has even asked.
Fox hosts are falsely claiming that a provision in the financial reform legislation gives a "complete pass" to the Securities and Exchange Commission from complying with the Freedom of Information Act. In fact, the provision reportedly only protects proprietary information gathered from regulated firms during the course of examinations or investigations, which mirrors exemptions that exist for bank regulators.