Right-wing radio hosts

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Here’s what right-wing radio listeners are hearing about the Israel-Hamas war

Right-wing radio hosts are promoting Islamophobia, defending alleged war crimes, and calling for ethnic cleansing

Right-wing talk radio hosts are spewing misinformation and hate about the Hamas-Israel conflict, with some spreading anti-Islamic bigotry, defending the thousands of civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip, and even calling for ethnic cleansing.

  • Since Hamas' October 7 attack on Israelis, Islamophobic rhetoric has thrived in right-wing media spaces

    • Hamas launched its attack against Israel on October 7, with militants from the Gaza Strip targeting both civilians and Israeli military personnel. Since then, Israel has promised to eradicate Hamas, leading the Israeli military to target Gaza in an ongoing conflict that has left more than 1,400 Israelis and nearly 3,800 Palestinians dead. [Al Jazeera, 10/20/23]
    • Right-wing media figures fearmongered about a supposed “global day of jihad” transpiring on October 13. The notion of a “day of jihad,” in which Islamic extremists would launch Hamas-inspired attacks around the world, seemed to come in part from the mistranslation of a statement from former Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal. Without a “specific and credible threat” to the U.S., this day failed to materialize. The rhetoric nonetheless sparked increased fears of violence during a time when anti-Muslim violence is already expected to rise. [Media Matters, 10/16/23; The Guardian, 10/17/23]
    • An Illinois man who “‘listens to conservative talk radio on a regular basis’ and became obsessed with the war between Hamas and Israel” allegedly stabbed his 6-year-old Palestinian tenant to death in what is being investigated as a hate crime. [NBC News, 10/16/23]
  • Radio hosts and guests fearmongered about Islamic extremists attacking the U.S.

    • Charlie Kirk told people to carry a gun to defend themselves in case sleeper cells are “activated” in the U.S. The Turning Point USA founder told his audience, “This needs to be a wake up call. They are here, they mean harm to the American homeland and I pray that they are not activated. Make sure you have a gun on you.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/11/23]
    • According to Kirk, “We have imported the dynamite right into our country.” Kirk claimed that “we have invited some of the most disgusting people on the planet into the West,” including “Third World Muslims,” and now “we shouldn’t be surprised” to see a “global day of jihad.” [Media Matters, 10/16/23; Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/12/23]
    • Kirk claimed that “millions of young, fighting-age Muslim men in America” have the potential to be “activated” as terrorists. Kirk said, “You have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of young, fighting-age Muslim men in America. All it takes is for a couple of them to be activated in this country.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/12/23]
    • Kirk fearmongered about the potential of Islamic terrorists crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and “shooting up a public place in the name of Allah.” Kirk said, “What's to prevent one of these Muslims that came across the border … from getting their hands on a firearm and going and shooting up a public place in the name of Allah?” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/10/23]
    • Sean Hannity told his audience to take the “global day of jihad” seriously despite a lack of evidence. He proclaimed, “Hamas has now called for their supporters to make tomorrow, Friday the 13, a global day of jihad. Now I care about everyone in my audience. I'm gonna urge all of you: Take this seriously.” He added, “You know, it’s a holy war, and they want it worldwide.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/12/23]
    • Hannity claimed there are terrorist cells in the U.S. that have already entered the country illegally and are planning attacks. He said, “I guarantee you that among the 8 million, by the end of this year, of illegal immigrants, I guarantee you people that have connections to terrorism have entered this country and that there are terror cells plotting, planning, and scheming another attack.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/17/23]
    • On right-wing pundit Eric Metaxas’ show, a guest spread the conspiracy theory that the Biden administration is allowing men from “Muslim countries” into America to be later used to cause chaos. Appearing on The Eric Metaxas Show, The Stream senior editor John Zmirak claimed, “They were letting in thousands of military-age men from Muslim countries and spreading them all over the country. Why? My theory, my conclusion is this is the next army of political police, of political thugs whom the Democrats will send out onto the streets to riot, to burn, to threaten, to intimidate, to pillage the next time it suits their political advantage.” [Salem Media Group, The Eric Metaxas Show, 10/11/23]
  • Right-wing radio hosts spread blatant Islamophobia

    • Steve Deace claimed that Islam has “no compunction or reservation at all about using women and children as human shields.” “Hey, I lose a wife. I've got seven more,” Deace said, mocking Muslims. “I lose a kid, I'll make another kid with the other seven wives. And that kid, you know, was just welcomed by Allah into heaven as a hero.“ [Blaze Radio, Steve Deace Show, 10/16/23]
    • Charlie Kirk maintained that the “vast majority of Muslims” live “in the 1300s” and hold a “medieval worldview.” Kirk framed the Israel-Hamas conflict as “civilization, aka Western values, versus barbarism.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/11/23]
    • Kirk claimed Muslims are going to kidnap people “across the world.” According to Kirk, “People are going to start getting kidnapped all across the world if we mishandle this. You’re going to see a string of kidnappings,” Kirk said. “Americans don’t travel internationally nearly as much as Europeans, but we travel internationally a lot, and there's a lot of Muslims out there.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/11/23]
    • Kirk falsely claimed that Islamic law justifies killing children. “It's perfectly acceptable in Islamic law to go kill kids — perfectly fine,” Kirk said. [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/12/23]
    • Shapiro claimed that the United Nations is “despicable and vile” and “filled with Islamist countries that support the death of Jews.” [Westwood One, The Ben Shapiro Show, 10/10/23]
  • Right-wing radio hosts dehumanized Palestinians

    • Charlie Kirk claimed Palestinians in Gaza are “savage animals.” The TPUSA founder and Salem Media Group radio host stated, “To be clear, they will — they'll take you out of the car and cut your head off and parade you through the streets. They're really nice people we got dealing with here. And I'll never forget — as soon as they see an Israeli license plate, they're savage animals, they’ll come after you.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/11/23]
    • Mark Levin declared, “The Israelis are up against these animals — they’re not even animals,” before calling Palestinians “subhumans.” On his Westwood One radio show, Levin also questioned why the safety of Palestinian civilians should be considered, “particularly when the enemy wants its own civilians killed.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 10/13/23]
    • Levin: “And I'm supposed to, what, shed crocodile tears, for what's going to happen to these people?” Levin also called people in Gaza “barbarians” and said that their deaths are not Israel’s responsibility. Levin continued, “I'm not. Maybe I'm the only one who will voice it, but I'm not. Israel has every right to throw every damn thing it has at barbarians. And if there are innocent people, quote-unquote ‘civilians’ who are killed, then maybe they ought to organize to take out the government they elected, but it's not Israel's responsibility." [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 10/10/23]
    • Levin implied that all Palestinians are evil and said that if “there's collateral damage” when Israel attacks Gaza, “so be it.” According to Levin, “One side is immoral and evil. The other side is moral and good. It's that simple.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 10/17/23]
    • Steve Deace claimed that Palestinians are “basically Arab squatters, people who were kicked out of countries like Jordan, who didn't want them.” The Blaze Radio host said, “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian. It’s a people group that does not exist. They’re basically Arab squatters, people who were kicked out of countries like Jordan, who didn’t want them.” [Blaze Radio, The Steve Deace Show, 10/13/23]
    • Blaze Radio producer Aaron McIntire claimed that Palestinian civilians “don’t exist” and also called them “squatters.” McIntire said, “What you do with the Palestinian civilians — that don’t exist — what you do with the people, the squatters, who live in the area known as Gaza Strip: Make Egypt take them, make the Arab nations, Arab neighbors take them.” [Blaze Radio, The Steve Deace Show, 10/13/23]
    • Deace also said, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people as a people group.” He stated, “The people identifying as Palestinians — and they're not all Muslims, they're not all, you know, Hamas crazies, and every one of them's made in the image of God. Nevertheless, there is no such thing as a Palestinian people as a people group. These are folks from other Arab countries, a lot of them, a legacy like in Jordan that were kicked out of those countries, and there's a reason why these Arab countries like Jordan and Egypt are closing their borders to them now. They don't want them back.” [Blaze Radio, Steve Deace Show, 10/16/23
    • Charlie Kirk claimed Palestinians are all antisemitic to justify attacking them: “The reality is Hamas and the Arab world, they just hate Jews. They just want Jews dead.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/12/23]
  • Right-wing radio figures tried to justify withholding aid to Palestinians

    • Sean Hannity said any humanitarian aid to Palestine will help Hamas. Hannity stated, “Any humanitarian aid you want to give the innocent people in Gaza — I don't know what the percentage is because I don't know how deep their indoctrination is — will not go to the civilians. Innocents won't see this aid. It will go to Hamas, and they will build out their terror network.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/18/23]
    • Ben Shapiro said “turning off water and electricity in military areas is normal” and emphasized that Israel is trying to avoid targeting civilians. [Westwood One, The Ben Shapiro Show, 10/16/23]
    • Shapiro claimed that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, a humanitarian organization, allows for “Jew hatred” and should not be supported. According to Shapiro, “The UNRWA, the U.N. refugees administration, which is an agency that is specifically dedicated only to the Palestinians, it’s amazing. It’s a garbage administration run internationally that allows for full indoctrination in Jew hatred at UNRWA schools and the hiding of weaponry beneath UNRWA schools. They admitted yesterday on Twitter, briefly, that Hamas was literally stealing aid and then they deleted it because they’re afraid that Hamas might get mad at them.” [Westwood One, The Ben Shapiro Show, 10/17/23]
    • On The Mark Levin Show, the president of the Zionist Organization of America declared: “The civilians are not innocent.” ZOA National President Mort Klein said that the U.S. should withhold aid because Palestinian civilians were also guilty for Hamas’ October 7 attack, saying, “In any war, do you do something against the civilians there? Do we do anything for the Vietnam civilians? For the Iraqi civilians? For the German civilians? No. It is a war. And yet strangely enough when it's Israel fighting Hamas Nazis, we want to aid the civilians. And I must add, the civilians are not innocent.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 10/18/23]
  • Right-wing radio figures defended or downplayed civilian casualties in Gaza

    • Mark Levin complained that asking Israel not to bomb schools or cut off food and medication to Gazan civilians constitutes too many “conditions.” Levin said: “Urban battle: It’s going to be very hard. Of course it is, but the Israelis are being told by our government, ‘Make sure your feed the population, make sure you medicate the population, make sure you don’t hit a mosque, a hospital, a school, don’t hit any of those. Now go for it.’ Look at all these conditions. All these conditions.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 10/16/23]
    • Brian Kilmeade suggested civilians should not be let out of Gaza because terrorists might escape. According to the Fox News and radio host, “Word is — there’s some word that we are pressuring — the U.S. is pressuring Israel to hold off on the invasion so that more civilians get out. But you know who else gets out? The terrorists! Who are going to plot and plan another day and be treated like heroes when the red carpet comes out with a lot of these evil regimes or the Muslim Brotherhood affiliates around the world around the globe. “ [Fox News Radio, The Brian Kilmeade Show, 10/16/23]
    • Shapiro excused civilian casualties as necessary to achieve Israeli military objectives, saying, “This notion, that it is incumbent on Israel not to achieve its military objectives in order to prevent civilian casualties caused by Hamas, is absurd on its face.” [Westwood One, The Ben Shapiro Show, 10/17/23]
    • Shapiro also said that Palestinian civilians should not be prioritized over “the first rule of war: winning.” According to Shapiro, “Yes, of course, those of moral bent ought to work to minimize civilian casualties. Yes, of course, those of moral bent ought to work to find a place for civilians to escape from the line of fire. But neither of those rules can be prioritized over the first rule of war: winning. War is ugly by nature. Nearly the ugliest thing. As it turns out, there’s only one thing uglier: losing to those who don’t care about morality or decency at all.” [Westwood One, The Ben Shapiro Show, 10/16/23]
    • Sean Hannity claimed Hamas and Iran, not Israel, are to blame for civilian deaths in Gaza. According to the Fox News and radio host, “The people of Palestine — those that have been killed and will be killed — you can only blame one group, and that would be the terrorist group Hamas. Well, you can blame another group too — the No. 1 state sponsor of terror that helped, apparently, organize, foment these attacks against Israel. That would be Iran.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/16/23]
    • Kilmeade said it’s “not Israel’s problem” that civilians are collateral damage in eradicating Hamas. According to Kilmeade, “They say go by the rules of war, and — the best you can — but if Hamas is going to use these people as human shields, prevent them from leaving, or going south, or leaving their building — even though it’s gonna be targeted — that’s not Israel’s problem, it’s their problem.” [Fox News Radio, The Brian Kilmeade Show, 10/16/23]
    • Beck claimed there are “no Israeli war crimes” and said that “every innocent harmed in Gaza is on Hamas.” Beck dismissed the number of casualties caused by Israel, arguing, “Every piece of human suffering in Gaza is on Hamas. Want more peace? Have less Hamas.” [Blaze Radio, The Glenn Beck Program, 10/17/23]
  • Right-wing radio figures tried to justify the complete elimination of Palestinian people from the Gaza Strip

    • Blaze Radio founder Glenn Beck said Israel should make Gaza into a “parking lot,” claiming the over 2 million Palestinians who live there are simply the tools of “people who just want to kill Jews.” Beck stated, “I think Israel should park their car there. You know what I mean? Park a lot of cars there. It could be, you know, some sort of a parking lot that they make it. … The Palestinian people have been used over and over again by people who just want to kill Jews. That's it. That's — that's been the thing from the very beginning." [Blaze Radio, The Glenn Beck Program, 10/16/23]
    • Salem radio guest: “I’m OK” with an ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. During an appearance on Salem Media’s The Charlie Kirk Show, Breitbart writer Joel Pollak stated, “I don’t think it’s going to be something people consider, but it's there. It's a possibility, and frankly I'm OK with it. I say that at the risk of being accused of all kinds of stuff, but, you know, if it comes down to ethnic cleansing, if you want to cleanse my people, I'll cleanse yours first. I mean, that’s where we are.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/9/23]