Fox News is attempting to downplay Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s remarks that President Obama is a founder of ISIS by likening them to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s comment that Trump “is being used to essentially be a recruiter” for terrorists. However, numerous national security experts have explained that Trump’s rhetoric is “the best thing the Islamic State has going for it” and Trump’s rhetoric has actually been featured in terrorist propaganda.
Donald Trump Insists His Claim That President Obama “Founded ISIS” Was “No Mistake”
Trump: President Obama Is “The Founder Of ISIS.” On August 10, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed that President Barack Obama is the “founder of ISIS” and said that Hillary Clinton is the “co-founder.” The following day, Trump refuted conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s attempt to clarify Trump’s comments, saying “No, it’s no mistake. Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it.” Trump has since said he was being sarcastic. [Media Matters, 8/11/16; The New York Times, 8/12/16]
Fox News Attempts To Provide Cover For Trump By Saying Clinton Made A “Similar” Accusation Of Trump
Fox Host Steve Doocy: “Why Wasn’t The Left Hyperventilating When Hillary Referred To Donald Trump As The ‘ISIS Recruiter?’ Double Standard?” Fox News’ Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy asked why people did not condemn Clinton when she “referred to Donald Trump as the ‘ISIS recruiter,’” suggesting that there is a “double standard” in coverage on comments regarding ISIS between Clinton and Trump:
STEVE DOOCY(CO-HOST): What's interesting and -- while the left, hyperventilates, why wasn't the left hyperventilating when Hillary referred to Donald Trump as the “ISIS recruiter?" Double standard?
CLAYTON MORRIS (CO-HOST): Of course, he fired back after that. And there wasn't that reaction that we had this week from Donald Trump's comments.
MORRIS: And yet when we looked into this to find the videos that she was talking about, there was no evidence of it. The only evidence came after, and we actually saw videos of Bill Clinton as a recruiting mechanism.
DOOCY: Right. That's embarrassing.
MORRIS: There wasn't a video, we couldn't find a video that was being used as a recruitment tool by ISIS. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/12/16]
Fox Host Clayton Morris: “There Wasn’t This Outrage When Hillary Clinton … Pointed Out That Donald Trump Was The Recruiter For ISIS.” Fox & Friends co-host Clayton Morris said “there wasn’t this outrage when Hillary Clinton, during one of the debates, in fact pointed out that Donald Trump was the recruiter for ISIS,” insisting that “there was no evidence to” suggest ISIS was “using videos of Trump” in their propaganda. Morris’ co-host Ainsley Earhardt called Clinton’s claim “ludicrous” called condemnation of Trump’s comments “[h]ypocrisy at its best”:
CLAYTON MORRIS (CO-HOST): This outrage over the past few days about Donald Trump's comments, and you can quibble over how he described them as the founders and what exactly he was saying, to Sebastian Gorka's point. But there wasn't this outrage when Hillary Clinton, during one of the debates, in fact pointed out that Donald Trump was the recruiter for ISIS, that they were using videos of Donald Trump when there was no evidence to that. Remember this?
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): I mean, that's ludicrous. They're saying that what Trump was saying about President Obama and Hillary Clinton being the founders is ludicrous. That is too. That's ridiculous.
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Are you saying there's a double standard?
EARHARDT: Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Hypocrisy at its best. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/12/16]
Fox’s Sandra Smith: “Hillary Clinton At The Democratic Debate In December Said [Trump] ‘Is Becoming ISIS’s Best Recruiter.’ I Mean, Isn’t That Similar?” Fox’s Sandra Smith noted that “Hillary Clinton at the at the Democratic debate in December said [Trump] ‘is becoming ISIS' best recruiter,’ suggesting the comparison to Trump’s assertion that President Obama is the “founder of ISIS” is “similar” to Clinton’s claim against Trump:
SANDRA SMITH (HOST): You have the use of the same rhetoric on the left. Hillary Clinton, in addition to what you just heard from President Obama, Hillary Clinton at the Democratic debate in December said [Trump] “is becoming ISIS' best recruiter.” I mean isn't that similar? [Fox News, The Kelly File, 8/12/16]
Fox’s Abby Huntsman: “It Didn’t Seem Like The Media Reacted To [Clinton’s] Comments Like They Have About These Current Trump Comments.” Fox host Abby Huntsman claimed that “it’s interesting” that “it didn’t seem like the media reacted to [Clinton’s] comments like they have about these current Trump comments,” to which her guest, Tony Sayegh, agreed, saying, “Absolutely. Reality is, there is a double standard”:
ABBY HUNTSMAN (HOST): What's interesting is this is not the first time we have heard something like this, David. On the other side, Hillary Clinton and President Obama have both said at different times that Donald Trump's rhetoric is in part to blame for the rise of ISIS, let's play that.
Tony, it didn't seem like the media reacted to those comments like they have about these current Trump comments.
DAVID GOODFRIEND: Because they're different.
HUNTSMAN: Hold on, I'm going to give that one to Tony.
TONY SAYEGH: Absolutely. Reality is, there is as double standard. Donald Trump is the first candidate on the Republican side who has effectively confronted this double standard and will call the media out and will say it was a sarcastic statement, it was a figure of speech. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 8/12/16]
But Media Figures And National Security Experts Have Said Trump’s Words Actually Help ISIS
MSNBC Terrorism Analyst Malcolm Nance: “Donald Trump Is The ISIS Candidate.” MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance called Donald Trump “the ISIS candidate,” saying Trump “inflames the passions of people in the West to perform Islamophobia” which “make[s] [ISIS] say ‘this is what America is. They're willing to compromise all of their values in an effort to come and kill us.’" From the July 1 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball:
MALCOLM NANCE: We have already seen ISIS use Donald Trump in their propaganda directly. I will go so far as to say Donald Trump is the ISIS candidate. He inflames the passions of people in the West to perform Islamophobia, to draw recruits to them, to make them say “this is what America is. They're willing to compromise all of their values in an effort to come and kill us.” Believe me, what they don't want is they don't want a real politik, coordinated, global assault on their caliphate. They want someone to go off into space and inflame the other 1.6 billion Muslims so that they can come off the fence and join ISIS and other groups. He is really, really speaking off the hip. [MSNBC, Hardball, 7/1/16]
The Washington Post’s David Ignatius: “Trump’s Polarizing Rhetoric On” International Terrorism “May Be The Best Thing The Islamic State Has Going For It.” In an op-ed penned in the aftermath of the Orlando terrorist attack in June, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote, “The strongest remaining force that propels the Islamic State is the Islamophobia of Trump and his European counterparts, argue senior intelligence strategists for the U.S.-led coalition.” Ignatius continued, noting that “Trump doesn’t seem to understand that the real danger for the West is not the isolated acts of terror by disaffected youths … The bigger nightmare happens if Muslims, as a whole, conclude that their community is under threat and respond as a group.” From The Washington Post’s June 13 op-ed:
Trump’s polarizing rhetoric on this issue may be the best thing the Islamic State has going for it, according to some leading U.S. and foreign counter-terrorism experts. The group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq is imploding. Its Syrian capital of Raqqah is surrounded and besieged; the gap in the Turkish-Syrian border that allowed free flow of foreign fighters is finally being closed; Sunni tribal sheiks who until recently had cooperated with the Islamic State are switching sides. The group’s narrative is collapsing — with one exception.
The strongest remaining force that propels the Islamic State is the Islamophobia of Trump and his European counterparts, argue senior intelligence strategists for the U.S.-led coalition. Inflammatory, xenophobic statements about Muslims reinforce the jihadists’ claims that they are Muslim knights fighting against an intolerant West. Trump unwittingly gives them precisely the role they dream about.
Trump doesn’t seem to understand that the real danger for the West is not the isolated acts of terror by disaffected youths, such as Mateen’s massacre in Orlando. That’s a threat to Americans, but one that can at least be mitigated some with better security and intelligence. The bigger nightmare happens if Muslims, as a whole, conclude that their community is under threat and respond as a group.
Trump displays a level of irresponsibility that should worry Americans, not just because his statements are immoral and unconstitutional, but because they put the country at greater risk. [The Washington Post, 6/13/16]
The Economist Intelligence Unit Ranked A Trump Presidency Third On Its Global Risk Forecast Because Trump “Would Be A Potent Recruitment Tool For Jihadi Groups,” Among Other Reasons. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, Trump has “taken an exceptionally punitive stance on the Middle East and jihadi terrorism, including, among other things, advocating the killing of families of terrorists and launching a land incursion into Syria to wipe out IS,” which, the Intelligence Unit writes, “would be a potent recruitment tool for jihadi groups, increasing their threat both within the region and beyond”:
Although we still do not expect Mr Trump to defeat Ms Clinton, there are risks to this forecast, especially given the terrorist attack in Florida in June. Thus far Mr Trump has given very few details of his policies - and these tend to be prone to constant revision - but a few themes have become apparent. First, he has been exceptionally hostile towards free trade, including notably NAFTA, and has repeatedly labelled China as a “currency manipulator”. He has also taken an exceptionally punitive stance on the Middle East and jihadi terrorism, including, among other things, advocating the killing of families of terrorists and launching a land incursion into Syria to wipe out IS (and acquire its oil).
His militaristic tendencies towards the Middle East (and ban on all Muslim travel to the US) would be a potent recruitment tool for jihadi groups, increasing their threat both within the region and beyond, while his vocal scepticism towards NATO would weaken efforts to contain Russia's expansionist tendencies. [The Economist, 7/20/16; August, 2016]
Former CIA, NSA Director Michael Hayden: Trump’s Rhetoric Is “In Essence” A “Tactical Success For Our Enemy.” Former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden stated that Trump’s suggestion to waterboard suspected terrorists is “in essence” a “tactical success for our enemy” and “they can claim strategic success” for the words coming from the Republican presidential nominee. Hayden has concluded that he “could not support Trump for president” because Trump has proposed “courses of action that [Hayden believes] would be destructive for our country and our allies and the world.” [Politico, 6/30/16]
Atlantic’s ISIS Expert Graeme Wood: Trump’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Would “Hurt The Fight Against ISIS And Would Confirm One Of ISIS’ Main Narratives.” The Atlantic’s ISIS expert Graeme Wood explained that Trump’s proposed Muslim ban would “hurt the fight against ISIS and would confirm one of ISIS' main narratives.” From the June 13 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): More talk of Muslim bans. More talk of exclusion. More talk, again, that has made many people believe, from Donald Trump, people believe that a lot of his words, a lot of his rhetoric, actually is playing into the ISIS playbook.
WILLIE GEIST (CO-HOST): As we started our coverage yesterday morning, we heard from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Donald Trump's first tweet, anyway, was relatively measured by his standard. “Thoughts and prayers for victims” and things like that. But as the day went on, he talked again about the Muslim ban. He's going to talk about it today and this week. He's apparently going to double down on that.
GRAEME WOOD: Obviously, the talk of a ban of Muslims in the United States would hurt the fight against ISIS and would confirm one of ISIS' main narratives. One of the things that ISIS always says is that “Muslims, you'll never really be at home in the west. You'll never really be American. You'll always be, in some way, a second-class citizen.” So to have one of the major party candidates confirming that is not good. One thing that I've seen over and over again is that if there is an American, if there is a European, a Belgian, a Brit who joins ISIS, that there's often a trace that's found in the activities of that person at a mosque, that you find the imams of the mosque will remember the person for being a troublesome figure, coming to the mosque and telling people how to do their business. So if you want those mosques, those imams to have communities that feel like they are part of the United States, of Belgium, of the UK, and that they can tell authorities that they've got these troublesome people, who need to be watched. And that's one of our absolute best security guards against this kind of an event, is having those communities turn in members who seem to be going crazy. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 6/13/16]
United Nations’ Refugee Chief: Donald Trump-Style Rhetoric “Are The Best Allies” Of Extremist Groups.” The Guardian highlighted UN High Commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres, who responded to anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric pushed by Donald Trump stating that "[t]hose that reject Syrian refugees, and especially if they are Muslim, are the best allies of the propaganda and the recruitment of extremist groups." [The Guardian, 12/21/15]
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]
Donald Trump Was Featured In Extremist Propaganda
PolitiFact: “Two Different Terror Groups Have Used Trump’s Words In Propaganda Videos. We Rate” Clinton’s Claim To Be “True.” PolitiFact wrote that while “Clinton’s initial statement in December” that Trump is helping ISIS recruitment with his rhetoric “wasn’t the case,” after “two different terror groups have used Trump’s own words in propaganda videos,” Politifact has changed its rating of Clinton’s claim that “[w]e now do have evidence” that Donald Trump is being used in terrorist propaganda, to be “true.” [PolitiFact, 5/20/16]
ABC: Somalia-Based Militant Group “Al-Shabaab Releases Recruitment Video Featuring Donald Trump.” On January 1, ABC News reported that the al Qaeda-affiliated Somali militant group Al-Shabaab released a recruitment video online highlighting Trump's previous anti-Muslim remarks:
The militant group Al-Shabaab -- Al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia -- has released a recruitment video featuring GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
The more-than 51-minute propaganda video comes on the heels of a war of words between Trump and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton over her suggestion that the real estate mogul's controversial remarks about Muslims would be used to recruit jihadis.
The video includes a clip of Trump calling for a “shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the [bleep] is going on,” Trump says in the clip. The group bleeps out Trump's use of the word “hell.” [ABC, 1/1/16]