How Fox News Has A Conversation About Islam

After speakers at a Heritage Foundation event mocked a Muslim student who pointed out the right's overwhelmingly negative rhetoric on Islam, Fox News doubled down on anti-Islam vitriol and viciously attacked the student.

On June 16, the Heritage Foundation held an event to discuss the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Many of the panelists had a well-documented history of inflammatory rhetoric about Islam.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank detailed the event in a June 16 column, noting that the session quickly devolved into conspiratorial attacks on Islam. Milbank wrote that when Saba Ahmed, a Muslim law student, confronted the panelists about their attacks, she was mocked by panelists Brigitte Gabriel and Chris Plante. 

Conservatives complained Milbank had mischaracterized the panel in order to smear the right as anti-Islam (Milbank responded to some of his critics in a June 18 column).

But in the days following the Heritage event, Fox News has proved the premise of Milbank's argument correct by viciously attacking Ahmed and other Muslims. 

Sean Hannity hosted Ahmed and Gabriel on the June 19 edition of his Fox News show. During the segment, Hannity and Gabriel criticized Ahmed for bringing up conservative treatment of Muslims during a panel about Benghazi, with Gabriel accusing her of trying to steal “the limelight.”  Hannity claimed that he doesn't “hear a lot of criticism about radicalism and the hijacking of a religion” from moderate Muslims, and asked Ahmed to denounce crimes against women and homosexuals that are justified by some Muslim sects.

The next day, the hosts of Fox's The Five continued the network's attacks on Ahmed. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed the student “won't come out and condemn radical Islam, that's weakness.” Co-host Jesse Watters levied personal attacks against Ahmed:

WATTERS: She's a total fraud and a total nutcase. We looked into her background, did a little profile on her. She was born and raised in Islamabad, Pakistan [...] she's been checked into a psychiatric ward. She's been arrested for stalking. This woman is not okay.

Hannity doubled down on his own attacks, devoting his entire June 20 program for a special titled, “Radical Muslims on the March.” The program featured a panel of what Hannity termed “Middle East and military experts, as well as pundits from both sides of the aisle.”  

During the special Hannity aired the second part of his interview with Gabriel and Ahmed. In an extensive harangue, Gabriel repeatedly called Ahmed a “liar” and suggested that she is unpatriotic. When Ahmed reminded her that she is American, Gabriel replied, “You are not. Your loyalty is somewhere else. It's time we see more patriotism from the Muslim community and less terrorism.” Gabriel later asserted “people like you need to be put in their place.”

Hannity's panel of “experts” also heaped attack upon attack on Muslims (a handful pushed back on the claims). Pamela Geller, a noted anti-Islam activist, claimed that moderate Muslims “don't have a theological leg to stand on” and suggested that many secretly “support jihad.” Jamie Glazov, editor of FrontPage Magazine, suggested Muslims are “sociopaths”:

GLAZOV: You're a very dangerous person because these are heroes standing up for the victims of Islam! And let me tell you, I study how sociopaths behave, how psychopaths behave. We see this in the unholy alliance right now with the left and Islam.

What they do is when the -- a vicious ideology, totalitarian ideology, attacks us and we're victims, what these people do is they make the perpetrator the victim and the victim the perpetrator!

The special reached a low point when Glazov told Mike Ghouse, himself a Muslim American, “you are enabling jihad and your hands are soaked in the blood of victims of Islam”: