On today's edition of Happening Now, Fox News obscured language in Islamophobic billboards created by conservative blogger Pam Geller's American Israel Defense Initiative, deeming the language “so inflammatory we're not going to show it to you.” While Fox seems to have finally drawn a line on Geller's bigotry, the network has promoted her for years.
The ads, currently posted in NYC subway stations, read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel/Defeat Jihad.” Fox blurred the word “savage” when showing the ad to viewers:
The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority initially refused to run the ads, on the grounds that it violated their policy against accepting advertising that demeans individuals or groups on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin. Geller's group sued the MTA and in July a federal judge ordered the agency to run the ads, saying that the content was protected speech.
During the segment, Fox's panelists agreed that they “hate” the message in the ads, while they avoided mentioning the obscured text. Despite Geller's claims to the contrary in the accompanying video package, Fox described the billboards as “anti-Muslim” in their on-air chyron.
It seems odd that Fox would suddenly exhibit this sort of sensitivity. The network has regularly featured anti-Islam commentary as a part of its regular programming and has often invited Geller as a guest despite her long and well-documented history of bigotry.
While she was campaigning against plans to build the Park51 Islamic community center in New York, Geller appeared on Fox several times to make bigoted comments about the center and Islam.
She described the center as a “mosque” that “basically embodies the very ideology that inspired those attacks on 9-11.” She also said “I don't know why” the developers of the center “want to stab Americans in the eye with that.” Geller also compared construction of the center to building a “Ku Klux Klan shrine” near a black church in Alabama.
Fox also gave Geller a platform to promote her book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America and was given airtime to promote and fundraise for her campaign suggesting that honor killings and terrorism are representative of the Islamic faith. During one of the appearances, she claimed that President Obama “was giving seminars in sharia finance” a week “after he nationalized some banks.”
Fox networks have also hosted Geller to push bizarre conspiracy theories. Hours after Obama released his long-form birth certificate last year, Geller appeared on Eric Bolling's now-defunct Fox Business program to analyze a poster-sized version of the document and decide whether it was “Photoshopped.” (Sample analysis from Geller: “This whole border is suspect.” )
And that's just what she's said on Fox. Geller has a long history of bigoted and hateful comments: describing Democrats as “National Socialists,” claiming that “Jews refuse to get on Obama's trains,” describing President Obama as an “anti-semite,” and alleging that he “was involved with a crack whore in his youth.”
Fox is not new to the world of Pamela Geller and their sudden sensitivity -- after playing a substantial role in mainstreaming her bigotry -- rings hollow.