Friday night on The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Laura Ingraham did a brief report on the terrorist attacks that killed dozens of people in Norway. She began by saying, “In the 'Back of the Book' segment tonight, two deadly terror attacks in Norway, in what appears to be the work, once again, of Muslim extremists.” She went on to describe the attacks, which involved a bombing in Oslo and a mass shooting.
Ingraham then immediately transitioned into a segment on Park51, the planned Islamic community center near the World Trade Center, by saying, “In the meantime, in New York City, the Muslims who want to build the mosque at Ground Zero scored a huge legal victory. A Manhattan judge dismissed a lawsuit by former New York City firefighter Timothy Brown, who was trying to stop construction of the mosque. Bill O'Reilly spoke with a lawyer for the Muslim developers yesterday.”
Friday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor was recorded, so, despite the fact that several outlets were already reporting at the time the show aired that the suspect in the attacks was not linked to any Islamist groups, Fox News viewers were left with that impression anyway.
Logistical constraints aside, it's totally inappropriate to juxtapose news of a terrorist attack with a discussion of Park51 because they both purportedly have something to do with Muslims. This is an attempt to reanimate Fox's failed strategy from last year of smearing Park51 by baselessly associating it with terrorism.
The discussion that O'Reilly had with the lawyer representing Park51 was full of anti-Muslim dog whistles as well.
During the discussion, B-roll footage included an image of a protester's sign that read “No Bloomosque, No Obamosque, No Victory Mosque” -- the last phrase being the term opponents have used to level the outrageous accusation that Park51 is somehow a celebration of the September 11 terrorist attacks:
The B-roll also included footage of one of the smoking Twin Towers:
While speaking with Adam Leitman Bailey, the Park51 lawyer, O'Reilly told him that “they're not going to build a Benihana at Pearl Harbor" as a way to explain opposition to Park51. O'Reilly also brought up the Catholic Church's decision to abandon plans to build a convent near Auschwitz.
Again, this is one of the same tactics that conservative media figures used last year to oppose Park51: trotting out all sorts of ridiculous analogies to claim the center would somehow be offensive.
It all fits in with Fox News' well-documented history of employing anti-Muslim rhetoric. This appears to come straight from the top. Rolling Stone recently reported that Fox News chairman Roger Ailes “has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim -- which is consistent with the ideology of his network.”