REPORT: Fox provides megaphone to NYC mosque opponents

Nearly 75 percent of guests hosted to discuss cultural center opposed it

A Media Matters for America review of Fox News' evening coverage of the planned building of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero found that, since May, the shows have hosted at least 47 guests to discuss the project, nearly 75 percent of whom opposed the center. Just nine of the guests who appeared on the evening programs supported the building, and one guest remained neutral.

Nearly ¾ of Fox guests opposed the Islamic center

Islamic center opponents outnumbered supporters 35 to 11. A Media Matters review of Nexis transcripts of Fox News' evening programming from May 13 to August 12 showed that nearly three times the number of guests who opposed the construction of the center than those who were supportive of such efforts.

Guests who opposed the center were counted as opponents. Guests who expressed support of the plans to build the center in New York City near Ground Zero were counted as supporters. Guests who did not take a position on the issue were counted as neutral. Guests who did not express an opinion about the construction of the center but rather commented on Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's philosophical beliefs and past statements were not included in the results:


Below are the names of the guests, the Fox News shows on which they appeared, and their position on building the Islamic center.


Fox News has repeatedly misinformed in coverage of NYC “mosque”

Fox News continues to advance misinformation about Islamic center. Fox News has repeatedly pushed the falsehood that the Islamic cultural center was “plan[ning] to launch” on “9-11.” However, Daisy Khan, executive director of one of the organizations leading the project, told Media Matters that the allegation is “absolutely false” and that “the timeline has yet to be determined.”

Fox also hosted a GOP candidate to baselessly suggest that “terrorist groups” are funding the center. On the August 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Peter Johnson Jr. hosted George Demos, a Republican candidate in New York's 1st congressional district, to baselessly suggest that “terrorist groups” are funding the Islamic community center.

Fox promoting GOP candidate's petition, i.e. campaign website, against NYC Islamic center. On August 12, Fox & Friends hosted Republican congressional candidate Randy Altschuler and aired his ad comparing the Islamic center to the “Japanese government” erecting a “shrine to its World War II emperor in Pearl Harbor.” Fox & Friends directed viewers to Altschuler's campaign website to sign a petition against building the center.


Media Matters reviewed Nexis transcripts of all original Fox News evening programming from May 13 to August 12 between 5 p.m. and 10:59 p.m. ET. (Fox News airs a repeat of The O'Reilly Factor at the 11 p.m. ET hour.) Transcripts of Fox News' evening program, Fox Report, are not available in Nexis, and therefore, the show was not included in the study.

Media Matters counted all guests who appeared in segments that involved a discussion of the controversy about building the New York City Islamic community center near Ground Zero. Each guest's position on the issue was derived from statements made during that guest's appearance. In some cases, guests expressed personal opposition to the mosque but acknowledged that the organizers had a right to build there. For instance, on the August 8 broadcast of Hannity, Juan Williams said, “I happen to agree with you [Sean Hannity] about the idea that they shouldn't build the mosque,” later adding, “But that doesn't mean that we, as Americans, can say to him, 'No, you can't build here.' That's wrong.” These few guests were categorized as “against” the mosque because of their personal opposition to its construction.