Hillary Clinton said during the December 19 Democratic presidential primary debate that ISIS is using Donald Trump's inflammatory anti-Muslim comments “to recruit more radical jihadists.” Although experts say that ISIS and other terrorist groups are using Trump's remarks to attract recruits on social media, journalists have ignored that fact and fixated on Clinton's specific statement that the terrorists use Trump's comments in recruitment “videos” to suggest that Clinton “made the stuff up about Trump and ISIS.”
Clinton Noted Trump's Islamophobic Rhetoric Helps ISIS Recruitment
Hillary Clinton: ISIS Is “Showing Videos Of Trump Insulting Islam And Muslims In Order To Recruit More Radical Jihadists.” During the December 19 Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said that ISIS is using videos of Donald Trump's inflammatory rhetoric about Muslims as a recruitment tool, Donald Trump ISIS's “best recruiter”:
HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I was a senator from New York after 9/11, and we spent countless hours trying to figure out how to protect the city and the state from perhaps additional attacks. One of the best things that was done, and George W. Bush did this and I give him credit, was to reach out to Muslim Americans and say, we're in this together. You are not our adversary, you are our partner.
And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America's interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry. [Democratic Debate Transcript, 12/19/15]
Clinton Campaign Clarified That She “Didn't Have A Particular Video In Mind,” Was Referencing ISIS Social Media Activity. Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and spokeswoman Jennifer Pamieri expounded on the candidate's statement on Sunday morning political talk shows the next day, explaining that Trump's comments may not appear in public recruiting videos but are circulating on jihadists' social media as a recruiting tool:
Sunday morning also saw Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri work to walk Clinton's statement back. Appearing on ABC's This Week, Palmieri said that Clinton “didn't have a particular video in mind” but was instead referring to jihadists' social-media activity, a line Podesta echoed on NBC's Meet the Press, where he insisted that “if you look at what's going on [on social media], they are definitely pointing at Mr. Trump.” The Clinton campaign has also highlighted comments from the SITE Intelligence Group's Rita Katz, who told NBC News earlier this month that across ISIS's social media, which SITE tracks, “They love [Trump] from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric ... They follow everything Donald Trump says. When he says, 'No Muslims should be allowed in America,' they tell people, 'We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.'” Katz then subsequently confirmed to the Washington Post that “ISIS didn't feature Trump in a video, but ISIS supporters and recruiters have used Trump's rhetoric to promote ISIS' ideas and agenda.” [New York Magazine, 12/20/15]
NBC News: “Donald Trump's Muslim Bashing Aids Cause Of Terror Networks, Say Experts.” NBC News previously reported that experts say Trump's “controversial proposal for barring all Muslims from entering the United States is being used by the head-chopping fanatics and other terrorist groups like al Qaeda to attract recruits by painting the land of the free as opposed to Islam,” citing the use of his comments in ISIS social media. From the December 8 article:
Donald Trump's call for closing America's door to Muslims is opening a window of opportunity for groups like ISIS, counter-terrorism experts and human rights advocates say.
The Republican presidential candidate's controversial proposal for barring all Muslims from entering the United States is being used by the head-chopping fanatics and other terrorist groups like al Qaeda to attract recruits by painting the land of the free as opposed to Islam, experts told NBC News on Tuesday.
“They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric,” said Rita Katz with the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the social media activities of Islamic terrorist groups. [NBCNews.com, 12/8/15]
Media Ignore Facts, Fixate On Clinton Identifying Video As The Medium For ISIS' Recruiting Tactics To Claim She “Made The Stuff Up”
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: “Apparently It Hasn't Happened. It's Not An ISIS Video.” Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough said that it was “not a great weekend for Hillary Clinton” because “she made the stuff up about Trump and ISIS.” Co-host Mika Brzezinski also said that Clinton's statement “appears to have not been true.” They ignored ISIS' reported use of Trump's comments to recruit via social media. From the December 21 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (HOST): It appears to have not been true. I know Jen Palmieri was on This Week this morning and she was really nervous trying to answer the question. Extremely nervous.
JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST): Apparently it hasn't happened. It's not an ISIS video.
SCARBOROUGH: Not a great weekend for Hillary Clinton. She made the stuff up about Trump and ISIS. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 12/21/15]
CNN Anchor Costello: Clinton “Did Assert That ISIS Is Using Trump To Recruit, Even Though There's No Evidence Of That.” CNN anchor Carol Costello claimed that Clinton “did assert that ISIS is using Trump to recruit, even though there's no evidence of that.” CNN contributor Athena Jones said that Clinton is “not in a good position” to “have Donald Trump fact-checking” her statement, concluding, "[T]here is no evidence so far that such a video is actually being shown of Donald Trump by ISIS to potential recruits." From the December 21 edition of CNN Newsroom:
CAROL COSTELLO (ANCHOR): In this political season, sometimes it's just good to laugh, because, yes, Clinton did assert that ISIS is using Trump to recruit, even though there is no evidence of that.
ATHENA JONES (CORRESPONDENT): It's a strong line, a strong assertion from Clinton there. The problem is there is no evidence of that. She didn't cite any evidence. Her campaign staffers were asked about this in the spin room after that debate on Saturday night. They cited an NBC News report, they cited an expert who tracks some of the ISIS's communications in social media, but the problem is neither the expert nor the NBC News actually cited an actual video.
JONES: There -- very strong response from Trump. Not only in that interview. He also gave an interview over the weekend and he's on Twitter demanding an apology, saying there never was a video. So it's not a good position for Clinton to be in. It's an unforced error really to be talking about a video and having Donald Trump fact-checking you. It may be true. Certainly administration officials and others have said that Donald Trump's rhetoric on Muslims is not helpful to the fight against ISIS and could, in fact, help ISIS. The problem here is there's no evidence so far that such a video is actually being shown of Donald Trump by ISIS to potential recruits. [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 12/21/15]
New York Post: Trump Says "He Wouldn't Soften His Brazen Statements" Even If This “Hillary Lie” Were True. A December 20 New York Post article highlighted Trump's assertion that Hillary Clinton “just made up [the ISIS recruitment video claim] out of thin air.” The Post also emphasized Trump's comments on NBC's Meet the Press that “even if [Clinton's claim] were true, [Trump] wouldn't soften his brazen statements.” The paper did not mention that experts say ISIS is using Trump's comments to recruit on social media:
Trump has riled the world for proposing a temporary ban on all Muslims from entering the US as way to stop terrorism. During Saturday's Democratic primary debate, Clinton called Trump ISIS's best recruitment tool and insisted the bloodthirsty jihadists were already using videos clips of Trump insulting Islam to entice more would-be jihadists, which fact-checkers have been unable to prove.
“It's just another Hillary lie,” Trump told NBC's “Meet the Press ”She lies like crazy about everything. ... She just made it up in thin air."
But Trump said even if it were true, he wouldn't soften his brazen statements.
“No, because I think that my words represent toughness and strength,” Trump said.
Clinton campaign chair John Podesta said the former Secretary of State stands by the statement that ISIS is using Trump's statements to lure radicals. [New York Post, 12/20/15]
CNN Ignored ISIS Social Media Use In Reporting Trump's Criticism That “It's Just Another Hillary Lie” And “She Lies Like Crazy About Everything.” In a December 20 article, CNN.com reported that Donald Trump criticized Clinton, “knocking her as a 'liar' and 'weak.'” The article reported Trump's accusation that Clinton “lies like crazy about everything”:
Republican front-runner Donald Trump fired back at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton after she said ISIS was using video of his comments about Muslims and Islam as a recruiting tool.
On NBC's “Meet the Press,” Sunday, Trump dismissed Clinton's criticism, knocking her as a “liar” and “weak.”
“It's just another Hillary lie,” Trump said. “She lies like crazy about everything -- whether it's trips where she was being gunned down in a helicopter, or an airplane. She's a liar and everybody knows that.” [CNN.com, 12/21/15]
But The Media Is “Playing Donald Trump's Game” By Diminishing And Ignoring Damaging Effect Of Trump's Damaging Rhetoric And Fixating On Clinton's Comments
Media Matters' David Brock: By Glossing Over Trump's “Statements That Are Endangering Our Lives,” The Media Is “Playing Donald Trump's Game.” On the December 21 edition of CNN's New Day, Media Matters' David Brock explained that Donald Trump “wants to evade the story by calling Hillary Clinton a liar” and that “the real story is that [Trump's] helping terrorists.” Brock further stated that the media is “playing Donald Trump's game here by focusing on a video when in fact it's his statements that are endangering our lives”:
ALISYN CAMEROTA (HOST): What she said was not accurate.
DAVID BROCK: So counterterrorism experts who for a living follow ISIS, and they follow ISIS on social media as well, told NBC News that what ISIS does is take Donald Trump's statements, put them out on social media. They love what Donald Trump is saying and, ISIS says to people, okay, here's proof that Americans hate Muslims. And what's the proof? The proof is Donald Trump's words. So that statement was absolutely correct. He's being used as a recruitment tool. And he wants to evade the story by calling Hillary a liar. The real story -- that he's helping terrorists. People who want to kill us.
CAMEROTA: Except that those counter terrorism experts who have spoken to NBC as you point out, they say that terrorists will surely use Donald Trump's words in the future. They may even make a video. There is no video that anyone can cite that is actually being used. She said it in the present tense.
BROCK: What ISIS is doing is all over social media right now. The New York Times fact-checker says it's all over Twitter. So, if we want to get into what the social media content is, is it they're transcribing his statements on Twitter, or they're using a video. That's a meaningless nit. The real issue here is Donald Trump, what he's doing. And it's not just Hillary Clinton bringing this up. Senator Rubio yesterday on Sunday morning said look the impact of this on patriotic Muslim-Americans whose support we need to win this fight.
CAMEROTA: Is Hillary Clinton going to apologize for saying there's a video that people can't find right now?
BROCK: I don't know but I don't think she should. I've given you the citation. I think what she said was accurate. And I think that we're playing Donald Trump's game here by focusing on a video when in fact it's his statements that are endangering our lives. [CNN, New Day, 12/21/15]
And Media Have Previously Acknowledged That Trump's Rhetoric “Feeds Into The ISIS Narrative” And “Increases The Chances That” Moderate Muslims “Will Turn Into Radicals”
NBC News' Richard Engel: Trump's Policy “Just Feeds Into The ISIS Narrative,” And Presents “A National Security Issue.” In a December 7 appearance on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel slammed Trump's proposal to ban foreign Muslims from the United States, saying it “feeds into the ISIS narrative,” and “it is a national security issue.” Engel explained that ISIS claims “the world is against Muslims and we, ISIS, are defending Muslims. So here comes Mr. Trump and says ISIS is right”:
RICHARD ENGEL: This is not small ball, actually. It would be interesting to say oh this is just fun. This is just more,you know,he's trying to score a few points. But the world watches this. The world sees the leading political candidate from one party making these kind of statements and still doing well and having these rallies. And those vox pops you showed where people are saying, yes, we need to do them. Send them back home. Those are going around the world right now, and people realize this person is leading in the polls. That must be what Americans think. I was today with an ambassador from the Middle East. Today. And we were talking exactly about this subject. And he said, well, people in our country watch what is going on, and it makes us very concerned. So from the world perspective, it is absolutely an image, an impression, a black spot on our collective foreign policy and our conscience. And it also just -- it feeds into the ISIS narrative. It is a national security issue.
RACHEL MADDOW: That's what I wanted to ask you about. The reaction is this is what ISIS wants to hear. You hear that a lot.
ENGEL: Of course it is.
MADDOW: How does that work? How, spell that out, why this is good for ISIS.
ENGEL: ISIS says, join the ISIS cause because the world is against Muslims and we, ISIS, are defending Muslims. So here comes Mr. Trump and says, ISIS is right. Join the ISIS team or join other radicals, or you're going to be deported, or you're going to be kicked out of the country. I kept saying, thinking to myself while he was making these statements, what exactly would this look like? I spend a lot of time on planes. So you come to the airport. Are there people standing there asking you questions? Are you a Muslim? How exactly do you prove it? Do you prove a negative? What do you know about Islam? Tell me what you think about Mohammed. Does that mean people from Indonesia, people from every corner of the Muslim world, over a billion people, including U.S. citizens?
MADDOW: The idea that U.S. citizens would have nowhere to come home to.
ENGEL: I don't understand where it's even coming from. I understand there is a fear. I understand there is a concern about ISIS. But to say that's it, no member of a particular faith in the country. It's irresponsible from a national security point of view. [MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/7/15]
New York Times' Frank Bruni: Trump “Has Given The Islamic State ... A Piece Of Propaganda As Big As Any Of His Resorts.” In a December 8 op-ed, New York Times opinion columnist Frank Bruni stated that Trump's policy proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States “has practically collaborated with the enemy by playing into a narrative of Muslim persecution”:
But what Trump just did took pressure off the president by redirecting the conversation from his tentativeness to Trump's insane overreach. We should tell him that, and we should add that he has practically collaborated with the enemy by playing into a narrative of Muslim persecution and a grand war between civilizations.
He has given the Islamic State and other barbarians a piece of propaganda as big as any of his resorts and as shimmering as any of his office towers. [The New York Times, 12/8/15]
American Prospect's Robert Kuttner: “Every Time Trump Disparages Muslims Who Are Not Radicals, He Increases The Chances That Some Will Turn Into Radicals.” In a December 8 article, American Prospect co-founder and editor Robert Kuttner called out Donald Trump for disparaging Muslims, writing that his “collected speeches are like an ISIS recruiting video”:
[T]here is a second way in which Donald Trump and other right-wing Republicans are ISIS's best friends. Every time Trump disparages Muslims who are not radicals, he increases the chances that some will turn into radicals. Trump's collected speeches are like an ISIS recruiting video.
Take a close look, and none of the right-wing bravado adds up to a serious program for containing or destroying Islamist radicalism, either in the Middle East or at home. But with Americans increasingly afraid, it may have more appeal than rational leadership. [American Prospect, 12/8/15]
ThinkProgress: Trump's “Rhetoric Bolsters The Message Of Extremist Groups Like ISIS.” In a December 8 article, ThinkProgress' Justin Salhani explained that “experts say [Trump's] rhetoric bolsters the message of extremist groups like ISIS.” Salhani wrote that Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy proposals help “ISIS gain support by convincing vulnerable youths prone to ideological radicalization that the west has an aversion to Islam”:
Trump's latest proposal is driven with national security in mind. A couple in San Bernardino, California went on a killing spree last week, killing 14 people. ISIS later claimed the couple as followers, while authorities say the wife pledged allegiance to the group on her Facebook page prior to the attacks. In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting and with the Paris attacks still fresh in mind, Trump claims that Muslims pose a “dangerous threat.”
While Trump assumes that stopping Muslims from entering the U.S. would boost domestic security, experts say such rhetoric bolsters the message of extremist groups like ISIS and, in correlation, increases animosity and potential retribution attacks against the U.S.
“This is precisely what ISIS was aiming for -- to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims,” Arie Kruglanski, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland who researches what motivates people to become terrorists, told the Washington Post. “Then ISIS will be able to say, 'I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.'”
One of ISIS' primary talking points is about eliminating the “grayzone” of coexistence between Muslims and western society. ISIS gains support by convincing vulnerable youths prone to ideological radicalization that the west has an aversion to Islam and, by extension, their families, their various cultures and societies, and them as individuals.
“Muslims in the West will soon find themselves between one of two choices,” the group published in their online magazine, Dabiq. [ThinkProgress, 12/8/15]
MSNBC Analyst And Counterterrorism Expert: “We Are Standing By Right Now To See An ISIS Video Come Up With Donald Trump.” On the December 8 edition of MSNBC's MTP Daily, MSNBC analyst and counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance explained to host Chuck Todd how Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric is helping ISIS jeopardizing U.S. intelligence missions:
CHUCK TODD (HOST): And before I let you go, how serious is -- I always hear that, you know, be careful what these politicians say of Donald Trump, it could be used for -- as ISIS propaganda. And some of the criticism of Trump has noted that. Some of the -- how much does ISIS use our political debate, maybe about rhetoric on Muslims, in their own propaganda?
MALCOLM NANCE: They use it extensively. As a matter of fact, I think we are standing by right now, to see an ISIS video come up with Donald Trump, you know, saying his rhetoric about blocking Muslims or banning Muslims from coming from coming to the United States. And saying, we told you this, the khalifa, you know, the caliphate is here for you, this is not your world. That is the land of the kufr. We are the land of the loyalists. And by doing that -- they not only compromise the, you know, people who may want to radicalize the United States and push them off the fence -- there are intelligence missions which are being carried out by officers in a covert role that are being compromised right now. We have allies who may look at us and say, do you really believe this? You know, you're Central Intelligence Agency officer --
TODD: You feel like there is a little bit of sideways looking going on now for everybody?
NANCE: Absolutely. They're looking sideways at them. And we on the ground, our soldiers are endangered by this kind of rhetoric. They need to stop it. And they need to understand that the defense of this nation stops, you know, at the water's edge. [MSNBC, MTP Daily, 12/8/15]