On the December 14 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, correspondent Mary Snow uncritically aired a clip of conservative radio host Dennis Prager asserting that he has “no problem” with incoming Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) “taking his oath [of office] on his holiest book. ... I have a problem with the Bible not being present at all. That's what I wrote. That's what I keep saying.” Snow did not mention, as Media Matters for America noted, that Prager claimed in his November 28 column that Ellison “should not be allowed” to “take his oath of office ... on the bible of Islam, the Koran.” Prager went on to compare Ellison's choice of the Quran to a hypothetical representative's choice of “Hitler's 'Mein Kampf,' the Nazis' bible, for his oath.”
Snow's report on The Situation Room focused on former New York City Mayor Ed Koch's (D) recent criticism of Prager's attack on Ellison. Snow reported that Koch is calling for Prager's removal from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, to which Prager was recently appointed and of which Koch is also a member.
From the December 14 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
WOLF BLITZER (host): In the culture wars, a controversy over the use of the Quran in a congressional swearing-in. It's leading to a virtual holy war of sorts. It has two high-profile men, both Jewish, at very public odds with each other.
Let's turn to CNN's Mary Snow. She's watching the story for us -- Mary.
SNOW: Wolf, at the heart of the controversy is the book an elected official uses when taking the oath of office. And now there's a new chapter.
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PRAGER: Well, who's going to dialogue with a bigot?
SNOW: Dennis Prager admits he's become a lightning rod in what is turning out to be a war of sorts over holy books. It started with the debate over the Bible being used during swearing-in ceremonies and is growing wider.
Prager is the conservative radio talk-show host who took aim at newly elected Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, who is planning to use a Quran during a private swearing-in. Prager says America, not Ellison, should decide the book used.
PRAGER: I have no problem as such with his taking his oath on his holiest book. I have a problem with the Bible not being present at all. That's what I wrote. That's what I keep saying.
SNOW: But Prager is now coming under fire himself from former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
KOCH: This particular act, which was a stupid act, is certainly a bigoted act.
SNOW: Koch serves alongside Prager on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which oversees the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. He wants Prager removed from the board.
KOCH: We will not tolerate, never again, animus and vitriol against a people on the basis of their religion.
SNOW: Prager insists he is not taking aim at Islam. He is Jewish and says while other Jewish lawmakers have taken the Hebrew Bible with them to be sworn in, he says he would take both the Old and New Testaments.
PRAGER: As a Jew, I do not want this country to abandon its Judeo-Christian values. I will get hurt. That so many of my fellow Jews do not recognize this is a colossal tragedy.
SNOW: As for the Holocaust Memorial Museum's position, it released a statement saying, “Talk show host Dennis Prager speaks solely for himself. His statements do not reflect the position of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, whose board is not self-appointed.”
[begin video clip]
SNOW: Members of the council are appointed by the White House. Now, the controversy is expected to come up at the council's next meeting on Monday -- Wolf.