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Fox News vice president accused of making Islamophobic comments in the newsroom oversaw the network’s anti-Muslim coverage of numerous terror attacks

A fired Fox staffer claims he was retaliated against for his complaints about Greg Headen, who allegedly linked Muslims with terrorism. Headen managed coverage of terror attacks in Paris and other cities.

Fox News’ vice president of news coverage, Greg Headen, is named in a recent wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that while serving as the head of the foreign news desk, he “repeatedly demonstrated prejudice towards Muslim people and made a handful of remarks at work associating Islam with terrorism” — including specific remarks in response to terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. 

According to a 2021 Fox News press release, Headen managed coverage of numerous terror attacks, including in Paris, during his tenure as the head of the foreign news desk. Fox News’ on-air coverage of the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels included fearmongering about admitting immigrants into the United States from heavily Muslim countries which is similar to Headen’s alleged anti-Muslim rhetoric.

  • A lawsuit alleges that Headen, who managed Fox’s coverage of international news, made “remarks at work associating Islam with terrorism,” including after terror attacks in Paris and Brussels

    • Former Fox assignment editor Tariq Khan filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that he was fired earlier this year for raising complaints — beginning in 2016 — about his supervisor Greg Headen using anti-Muslim language in the workplace. The lawsuit alleges that while Headen was running the foreign news desk and was Khan’s direct supervisor, Headen “repeatedly demonstrated prejudice towards Muslim people and made a handful of remarks at work associating Islam with terrorism in the presence of Mr. Khan, who practices Islam.” [The Daily Beast, 11/14/23]
    • The lawsuit alleges that Headen made Islamophobic comments after the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016, respectively. According to the lawsuit, “In November of 2015 after the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, Mr. Headen made an offensive comment that the attacks were ‘par for the course for Islamic state motherfuckers.’” The lawsuit further alleges that in March of 2016, “Mr. Headen commented in the Newsroom that ‘motherfucking Muslim terrorists’ were to blame for the terrorist attacks in Brussels.” [The Daily Beast, 11/14/23]
    • A 2021 Fox News press release announcing Headen’s promotion from “director of the network’s international desk” to vice president of news coverage noted that Headen had “managed bureau moves and the network’s coverage of worldwide news,” including “terror attacks in London, Barcelona, Paris, Nice, Munich and Istanbul.” The press release stated that Headen had also “produced the network’s War on Terror coverage in Islamabad, Pakistan and during Operation Iraqi Freedom thereafter in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey,” and “has had a hand in all of the network’s international and domestic news coverage since 1996.” [Fox News press release, 4/29/21]
    • In his current role as vice president of news coverage, Headen is “overseeing both the domestic and international assignment desks’ operations.” Headen also “manage[s] planning and logistics for news coverage around the world, providing material to all FOX News Media platforms.” [Fox News press release, 4/29/21]
  • Fox News’ on-air coverage of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks featured anti-Muslim language like Headen’s alleged rhetoric and fearmongered about Muslims entering the US

    • Fox News anchor Shannon Bream reacted to the terror attack in Paris by suggesting that certain skin tones are more typical of “bad guys” than others. Bream said: “If we know they were speaking unaccented French and they had ski masks on, do we even know what color they were, what the tone of their skin was? I mean, what if they didn't look like typical bad guys?” [Media Matters, 1/7/15]
    • Then-Fox host Tucker Carlson claimed that the Paris attack was “a direct result of [France’s] immigration policy” and fearmongered that the Obama administration was also “importing the threat.” Carlson claimed that “the Obama administration” is “importing the threat.” He added: “Isn't that the lesson of France? You have massive numbers of totally unassimilated people who hate the culture they live in and seek to destroy it.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/19/15]
    • Responding to the Paris terror attack, Fox's Brian Kilmeade declared that “we cannot continue to have this open-borders attitude” because the U.S. government “can’t run background checks” on refugees. He claimed that “they might be a bunch of saints or a bunch of ISIS members.” [Media Matters, 11/16/15]
    • Covering the Paris attack, Fox’s Bret Baier cited anonymous “concerns about the vetting process” to question acceptance of refugees from the Middle East. [Media Matters, 11/16/15]
    • Discussing the terror attack in Brussels, Kilmeade asserted that “when you're tolerant” of refugees coming into the United States, “a lot of times your neighbor becomes your terrorist or your bomber.” [Media Matters, 3/22/16]
    • Fox guest Zuhdi Jasser used the Brussels terror attack to endorse profiling Muslims. Jasser asserted that there are some “Muslims who are going to embrace democracy versus those who embrace theocracy. It's a front in homeland security in that we have to knock off and not be afraid to profile and follow ideas.” [Media Matters, 3/23/16]
    • Discussing the attack in Brussels, Kilmeade suggested that all recent terror attacks are carried out by Muslims. Kilmeade claimed that in Belgium, “after screaming out an Arabic phrase, shots went out, and a bomb blew up. That starts the last 5,000 terror attacks that we opened up our show with over the last 12 years.” [Media Matters, 3/22/16]
    • Then-Fox contributor Rob O'Neill used the Brussels terror attack to claim terrorists are “going to be crossing” the southern border with Mexico. [Media Matters, 3/23/16]
  • Anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment was also prominent in Fox’s coverage of other terror attacks that Headen managed, including in Barcelona, London, Nice

    • After a terror attack in Barcelona, Fox hosted Jim Hanson, the former leader of an anti-Muslim hate group, who smeared refugees and promoted then-President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. During a Fox interview, Hanson, the former vice president of the Center for Security Policy — which the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a hate group and “a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States” — blamed Spain’s immigration policy for the attack and endorsed Trump’s planned Muslim ban. Hanson said that Spain had “brought in ... boatloads of people who don't share their values. And now those people are, unsurprisingly, conducting attacks.” He also claimed during the interview that Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. would make sure people “who have jihadist ties” and “Islamist tendencies” would not be let into the country. [Media Matters, 8/18/17; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 11/17/23]
    • A month later, after a terror attack in London, Fox again turned to Hanson, who used the attack to endorse Trump’s Muslim ban. Hanson also hyped the supposed threat of “second generation” Muslim immigrants, whom he claimed make up “a lot of the bombers … and the knifers and the truck drivers” who attack civilians. [Media Matters, 9/15/17]
    • After a terror attack in Nice, Fox interviewed Trump and he fearmongered about refugees fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East. During the interview, which came in the immediate aftermath of the attack, the then-presidential candidate said that he “would not allow people to come in from terrorist nations” and fearmongered that under Democratic leadership, “we are going to allow thousands and tens of thousands of more people” into the U.S. [Media Matters, 7/14/16]