Follow the leader: Media figures go along with administration labeling of "war with Islamic fascists"

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

Several members of the media have complied with the Bush administration's efforts to rebrand the "global war on terror" by adopting the administration's newest catchphrase: Islamic fascism.

As several articles have noted, President Bush and members of his administration have recently changed their rhetoric about what they previously called the "global war on terror" to the "war with Islamic fascists," and several members of the media have complied by adopting the administration's newest catchphrase, despite the fact that the enemy has stayed the same. The most recent recasting of the conflict is the administration's reference to Islamic terrorists as "fascists," recalling the Allies' World War II victory over the Nazis and fascism. While it was not the first time an administration official had used the phrase, President Bush apparently launched the newest wave when, during an August 10 speech in response to the foiled London terror plot, he labeled the conflict a "war with Islamic fascists." On August 29, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld referred to a "new type of fascism," and compared those who have called for U.S. troops to be redeployed from Iraq to Nazi appeasers. On August 30, the Associated Press referred to "fascism" as the GOP's new "buzzword," adding that White House press secretary Tony Snow "has used variations on the phrase ["Islamic fascists"] at White House press briefings." On August 28, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told the Pennsylvania Press Club: "Some say we're at war in Iraq. I disagree. Some say we're at war in Afghanistan. I disagree. We're at war with Islamic fascism, and Afghanistan and Iraq and Southern Lebanon and every country around the world is a front."

A Media Matters for America review found several instances of media figures using the same language as the administration:

  • On the 4 p.m. ET August 31 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, guest host and CNN chief national correspondent John King referred to Bush's speech earlier that day at the American Legion convention and "what he calls Islamic fascists." A little more than a half-hour later, King had adopted the phrase: "The Bush administration, in effect, declaring war on Islamic fascists." The text on the screen throughout the report read: "War on 'Fascism.' "
  • An August 31 editorial in Investor's Business Daily called former President Jimmy Carter "the nation's leading appeaser of Islamic fascism" and adopted the administration's new phrase: "Some diplomats talk about the 'destabilizing' influence the U.S. war on Islamic fascism has had on the Mideast."
  • On the August 30 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, nationally syndicated radio host Neal Boortz said: "It is a war against Islamic terrorism. Iraq is a front. Afghanistan is a front. It is just part of a global war against Islamic fascism. And the people of this country need to get behind it."
  • On the August 17 edition of CNBC's Kudlow & Company, host Lawrence Kudlow said: "If Islamic fascists continue their war against America -- oops, I guess that's a controversial phrase, 'Islamic fascists,' but I am in good company, because President Bush used it."
  • In his August 17 column in the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia-based radio host and frequent MSNBC guest Michael Smerconish wrote: "What I have learned since 9/11 about the absence of profiling in America's war on Islamic fascism has filled two books that I have authored."
  • Fox News host Sean Hannity used the phrase on two different occasions on Hannity & Colmes. On August 10, Hannity said that "every corner of the world has felt the impact of Islamic fascism and terrorism, which is what this war is really all about." He later added that "our enemy is Islamic fascism and that their goal is the destruction of innocent life." Hannity invoked the phrase again on August 11: "The president came under fire today for using the term yesterday 'Islamic fascism.' That is what we're battling. We are at war with Islamic fascists, people that believe it's OK to strap bombs on their children and send them out to kill innocent people."

From the August 31 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

KING: President Bush draws new battle lines against what he calls Islamic fascists. It's 2 p.m. in Salt Lake City, where Mr. Bush looked to the past to try to rally support for the Iraq war. Will Americans buy it? Top Democrats definitely are not.

[...]

KING: The Bush administration, in effect, declaring war on Islamic fascists in its latest campaign to sell the American people on the war in Iraq, and, at the same time, Mr. Bush is insisting that Iran must face consequences for what he calls its nuclear defiance.

From the August 30 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:

BOORTZ: Look, first of all, it's not a war in Iraq. It is a war against Islamic terrorism. Iraq is a front. Afghanistan is a front. It is just part of a global war against Islamic fascism. And the people of this country need to get behind it. There is a real threat there, a real threat, and we're -- life is fat and happy in the United States right now. We're whistling by the graveyard. And I don't know if it'll work, but I hope that the president is successful in waking up the American people to the threat that faces us. I mean, look, these Iranians are -- they're building a nuclear weapon right now. Are we just going to sit back and let that happen?

From the August 17 edition of CNBC's Kudlow & Company:

KUDLOW: If Islamic fascists continue their war against America -- oops, I guess that's a controversial phrase, "Islamic fascists," but I am in good company, because President Bush used it. Take a look.

From the August 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: The president came under fire today for using the term yesterday "Islamic fascism." That is what we're battling. We are at war with Islamic fascists, people that believe it's OK to strap bombs on their children and send them out to kill innocent people. People that, in the name of religion, think they're going to be rewarded in virgins -- with virgins if they blow up airplanes. This is a perversion of Islam, isn't it?

From the August 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: We really did today -- we stopped a second 9-11. You have said repeatedly that this is World War III. And basically every corner of the world has been, has felt the impact of Islamic fascism and terrorism, which is what this war is really all about. But it seems, on many levels, that there are many in the world that are still asleep today. And a lot of people don't want to face this truth, do they?

[...]

HANNITY: What's frustrating to me is we have now -- it's five years since that day that you know as well as anybody, because you were right in the midst of all this.

It seems that we still have not united and come together or come to terms with or come to grips with the fact, A, we're at war -- that our enemy is Islamic fascism and that their goal is the destruction of innocent life.

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