WashPost's Milbank: Imam Rauf "exploiting" Ground Zero controversy by defending himself. Or something

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

According to Dana Milbank, it's Feisal Abdul Rauf who's causing all the trouble by giving so many media interviews about the Islamic community center he's proposed building near Ground Zero. (He seems to "crave" the spotlight.) It's Rauf who's leading the media circus. How? By apparently defending himself from relentless and often false right-wing media attacks.

From Milbank [emphasis added]:

He claims he wishes to improve the standing of Muslims in the United States, to build understanding between religions, and to enhance the reputation of America in the Muslim world. But in the weeks since he -- unintentionally, he says -- set off an international conflagration over his plans to build an Islamic center near the scene of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York, he has set back all three of his goals.

See, it was Rauf who set off the media fireworks in recent weeks. And it's been Rauf who's been "exploiting" the controversy."

Of course, the truth of the matter is the Islamic center was essentially approved by the city of New York in late 2009 and when The New York Times ran an A1 story on its Metro Section about the project last December, the reaction at the time was near total silence. Even Fox News' Laura Ingraham went on the air and announced she couldn't find anyone who objected to the center's construction.

But now Milbank tells us it's Rauf who recently "set off an international conflagration" (not Fox News
and the GOP Noise Machine). Good to know.

Milbank also portrays Rauf as a publicity hound:

Still, there is another cause that has flourished during the controversy -- that of Feisal Abdul Rauf. Here he is on the Larry King show; there he is writing an op-ed in the New York Times; that's him, again, on ABC's This Week. On Monday morning, he addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (I listened in via conference call), offering many thoughts on what appears to be his favorite topic.

The imam, by Milbank's count, has given at least two television interviews and written a single op-ed. (Ego much??) Of course, what Milbank fails to mention is that while Rauf was strutting around giving at least two TV interviews, the mainstream press has produced more than 10,000 news items and columns this summer referencing the debate about the imam's construction plans. That, according to a search of Nexis.

But take Milbank's word for it; it's the imam who's "exploiting" the story.

The Washington Post
Dana Milbank
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