The right-wing media is predictably hyperventilating over comments Speaker Nancy Pelosi made in which she questioned the funding of organized Park51 opponents. Most have taken her comments to the extreme, suggesting or outright claiming that she was calling for some sort of government investigation into "those who stand in opposition of the Ground Zero mosque." Of course, Pelosi did no such thing, as she made clear she was simply calling for transparency both in the funding of the Park51 project and for transparency in the funding of groups that are opposed to the mosque.
During an interview with San Francisco's KCBS radio, Pelosi was repeatedly asked about her position on Park51. Pelosi, who was speaking outside of an event to transfer the San Francisco Bay area man-made island Treasure Island from the Navy to the city of San Francisco, marveled that what is "a zoning issue in New York City" had become such national issue that "two of the first three questions" she's asked after inking the Treasure Island deal, which took decades to accomplish, are on this topic. She said, "There is no question there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some. And I join those who have called for looking into how ... this opposition to the mosque is being funded." As Greg Sargeant noted, "it was a bit unclear what she was referring to," (perhaps because KCBS only provided a short audio clip of her comments), but Pelosi's office quickly clarified "what she meant":
"The freedom of religion is a Constitutional right. Where a place of worship is located is a local decision.
"I support the statement made by the Interfaith Alliance that 'We agree with the ADL that there is a need for transparency about who is funding the effort to build this Islamic center. At the same time, we should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.'
"For all of those expressing concern about the 9/11 families, we call upon them to join us in support of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act when Congress returns in September."
Clearly, as Sargent noted, "Pelosi doesn't seem to be calling for some kind of government investigation into the mosque's critics, as thrilling as that would be to some on the right." She's simply calling for transparency in who is funding Park51 and who is funding the attacks against it. Many conservatives have taken issue with that element in particular by suggesting that there is no organized opposition to Park51, just a bunch of concerned citizens, like themselves. This conveniently ignores groups like Liz Cheney's "Keep America Safe," Center for Security Policy, and Pam Geller's "Stop Islamization of America" who have been at the forefront of the opposition to Park51, creating ads, hosting rallies, and initiating bus banner campaigns against the project-- initiatives that have been widely celebrated across the right-wing media.
Of course, Pelosi's clarification and the obvious fact that there is at least some element of organized opposition to Park51 isn't going to get in the way of a full scale right-wing media freak out.
Hot Air's Allahpundit calls Pelosi the "nuttiest Democrat in America" for her comments, and claims, "Apart from a few 527 ads, there's no organized opposition to the mosque. Who is there to investigate?" Allahpundit adds, "Has there been any dumber statement uttered by a major American politician this year than Pelosi calling for mosque opponents to be investigated for their thoughtcrime?"
Drudge is linking to a Washington Times story on Pelosi's comments under the following banner:
Bill O'Reilly devoted his Talking Points Memo Pelosi's comments, saying "Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling for an investigation of who is opposing the mosque." After airing an audio clip of Pelosi's original comments, O'Reilly said, "Well, FOX News pays me. So you can save the taxpayer a lot of money, you want to investigate. That's who pays me. I'm opposed to it."
Glenn Beck, too, opened his show by attacking Pelosi's comments. He said:
BECK: So, let me start -- instead of in history, let me start here with Nancy Pelosi today. She is now calling for an investigation in to those who stand in opposition of the Ground Zero mosque.
Wait a minute. What?
She wants to know how this opposition is being funded to make it a political issue.
Beck went on to tie this to some sort of conspiracy about the government and religion coming together through commerce. I'll be the first to admit that he lost me there.
Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft gleefully informs me that on Special Report, Charles Krauthammer pretended that organized opposition to the mosque didn't exist, said Pelosi's comments were "sheer lunacy", and complained that he wasn't getting any money to "oppose the mosque." From Special Report:
KRAUTHAMMER: I spent the afternoon wrapping my mind around Pelosi's remark about looking into the finances of those who oppose the motion. I want to join with others. I'd like to know who the others are. Are any of them non-institutionalized?
And then I'm trying to decide if the statement was out of malice or sheer lunacy. And being the general soul I am, I go with lunacy. After all, the implication is that Debra Burlingame, the sister of one of the pilots who died on 9/11, would have to be secretly paid to express her anguish over the establishment of a monument to Islam in a place where 3,000 were massacred in the name of Islam is obscene.
Looking in to the financing of the mosque is logical. We know there is history in this country of fake charities which are funneling money to terrorist organizations. They've been investigated. We've had -- this is a real issue. It's not hypothetical, it's not a can-be.
But the idea that those who oppose the mosque are some kind of conspiracy or funding ought to be looked at is absurd. Look, I oppose the mosque. No one is offering me a penny. What am I, chopped liver? I need a new roof.
And, Karl Rove, of course, was all over Pelosi's comments on last night's Hannity. Complete with his whiteboard, Rove claimed that Pelosi was calling for a federal investigation. He needed his whiteboard to illustrate why her comments were "silly."
The Fox & Friends crew picked up right where Rove left off, repeatedly highlighting his so-called analysis, with Doocy opining, "What she said was chilling. Not only was it stupid and silly, as Karl Rove said, it was chilling. I mean, in this country, shouldn't you be able to speak out--I see something I don't like, I'm going to speak out against it. She's doing the Speaker smackdown, where she said, 'I don't like that so let's investigate.' I don't care if it is a federal investigation, or if it's the Department of Justice or the FBI, just for her to insinuate, hey, that guy's talking bad, you know, trying to make political hay, let's investigate."