Diversity & Discrimination | Media Matters for America

Diversity & Discrimination

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  • Watch a Muslim journalist call out the lack of media attention given to attacks on the Muslim community

    Dean Obeidallah: The media is the Muslim community’s “last hope”

    Blog ››› ››› SANAM MALIK

    Radio host and columnist Dean Obeidallah explained that the media’s failure to cover incidents of violence against American Muslims alienates the American Muslim community.

    On Saturday, August 5, a bomb exploded and shattered the windows of a Minnesota mosque, Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center, as worshippers gathered for morning prayers. This latest attack is not an isolated incident; reported anti-Muslim incidents have increased to a record high since 2016 in Minnesota. A day after the attack, as The New York Times reported, Gov. Mark Dayton denounced the attack during a press conference while visiting the mosque, calling it a “‘terrible, dastardly, cowardly’ act of terrorism.” However, as Obeidallah points out, the lack of media coverage on this attack has brought light to blatant media bias when American Muslims are the victims of terror attacks. Obeidallah says in a country where its president has “demonized” Muslim-Americans, their last hope is the media. From the August 7 edition of CNN’s Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:

    BROOKE BALDWIN (HOST): You say if this were to be happening to Christian churches, everyone would be saying terrorism.  

    DEAN OBEIDALLAH: They would be saying terrorism. It would be getting a great deal of media coverage, and it would deserve that. And it should get that coverage. What I'm saying for the Muslim-American community and I am Muslim. We would like to see this get the coverage. This is not an isolated incident, sadly.  

    [...]

    We look to the media as our last hope, frankly.  

    BALDWIN: We are having this segment. We are having this conversation, which is important. And thank you for calling this, of course, to our attention, and having the conversation, and writing the column. Why do you think, though, I mean, at least you have the governor of the state calling it how he sees it. Why do you think people aren't having the conversations that you think they should be?

    OBEIDALLAH: I think often the media doesn't cover these stories, or maybe you don't see the pattern that we do. I am in the community. My Facebook feed is filled with young Muslims across the country posting about this incident harassment or this hate crime.

  • Fox's Bolling has made sexist comments on air for years. He was just suspended while being investigated for harassment.

    Bolling was suspended by Fox after allegations that he sent lewd photos to co-workers

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News host Eric Bolling, who has for years made sexist remarks on air, has been suspended from the network pending an investigation into whether he sent “lewd photos” to female coworkers, according to CNN. HuffPost on August 4 reported that, according to a dozen sources, Bolling sent an “unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message” to at least three Fox colleagues. Following HuffPost's initial report, one woman, who Bolling has previously called “Dr. McHottie,” has come forward about Bolling’s behavior toward her.

    Bolling had a pattern of making sexist remarks as a co-host of Fox News’ The Five. In 2014, Bolling had to apologize for asking if the first female pilot for the United Arab Emirates, who conducted bombing against Islamic State terrorists, “would … be considered boobs on the ground.” Later that year, Bolling said men are “more successful ... and better leaders” than women. In 2013, he lamented that allowing young girls to play football was part of “the wussification of American men.” The year before, he had criticized a story of a 9-year-old girl playing football, saying, “Let the boys be boys, let the girls be girls.” And in 2015, Bolling cackled in response to co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle’s remark that “anything a guy can do, a woman can do better.”

    The network has also been under increasing scrutiny following reports of workplace sexual and harassment and racial discrimination. Over the years, many women have come forward to reveal the sexual harassment they faced at the network. Last year, then-Fox News head Roger Ailes resigned in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson. In April, Fox host Bill O’Reilly was forced out after The New York Times reported on numerous sexual harassment lawsuits he quietly setted. In July, Fox Business host Charles Payne was suspended after sexual harassment allegations were levied against him. And a recent report in early August accused a former top Fox official of sexual harassment. Additionally, the network is also facing a racial harassment lawsuit from former Fox employees.

    In an August 6 article, CNN reported that Bolling’s attorney said Bolling “denies the claims” that he sent “lewd photos” to co-workers and that Bolling “may return once the investigation is complete.” From the article:

    Fox News said Saturday that host Eric Bolling will be suspended from air "pending the results of an investigation" into whether he sent lewd photos to co-workers, a network spokesperson confirmed to CNNMoney.

    News of the suspension came one day after HuffPost published a story saying more than a dozen sources confirmed that Bolling had sent female colleagues an "unsolicited" photo of his genitals.

    Bolling's attorney said he denies the claims.

    [...]

    Fox's statement about Bolling on Saturday indicated that he may return once the investigation is complete.

  • Fox News is unusually focused on the nationality of the officer who shot Justine Damond (he's Somali-American)

    The network’s coverage mainstreams xenophobic narratives about immigrant crime

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On July 17, developments emerged in two cases of fatal officer-involved shootings, but Fox News rushed to cover only one of them and focused disproportionately on the officer’s nationality in doing so.

    On the day Balch Springs, Texas, police officer Roy Oliver was indicted for the fatal shooting of Jordan Edwards, a black teenager, news broke of the July 15 shooting of an Australian woman by a Minneapolis, MN, police officer who was later identified as Mohamed Noor. Noor is Somali-American. While Fox News aired several segments about Noor, the network made not a single mention of the indictment of Oliver, who is white, continuing its disinterest in the case since Edwards was killed on April 29 in Dallas, TX.

    In the first three days of coverage following the shooting of Justine Ruszczyk (who went by the surname of her fiancé, Don Damond), Fox News covered the story in 11 segments, six of which mentioned that the officer was “Somali-American,” an "immigrant" from Somalia, the first Somali-American to patrol that precinct, or that Minneapolis boasts a “very significant Somali population.” A Fox News article online began both its headline and body with Noor’s Somali background. In the same period, MSNBC and CNN both dedicated seven and 14 segments, respectively, to the story. CNN reporters did mention his Somali-American identity twice when prompted by hosts for more details about his background. MSNBC did not mention that he is Somali-American.

    Fox News’ Tucker Carlson went so far as to claim the mainstream media is engaged in a deliberate cover-up of the officer’s nationality. On the July 18 edition of his show, Carlson said, "Mohamed Noor was an immigrant from Somalia. Is that a relevant fact? We don't know. But it's being treated as one by many news organizations. How do you know that? Because they're not reporting it."

    Carlson was wrong to claim news organizations didn’t mention that the officer is Somali-American. His rival network CNN mentioned it that same day, and while The Washington Post -- which Carlson referenced -- did publish an early article on the story that did not mention his name or nationality (officials had not yet confirmed the identity of the officer), the paper also published a piece the next morning entirely focused on Noor and reactions in the Somali community of Minneapolis, which is bracing for backlash in the wake of the shooting. Moreover, Minnesota state officials did not publicly release the identities of the two officers involved in the shooting until Tuesday night (July 18), meaning three of Fox’s reports on Noor’s Somali identity were seemingly based on early reporting by the Star Tribune that had not yet been confirmed by police.

    Carlson was also misguided in his implication that other outlets’ omission of Noor’s nationality is evidence that it’s relevant. While many questions about the incident remain, and there are legitimate grievances being voiced by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Damond’s family, and the Australian government over the police department’s lack of transparency in the case, none of them are focused on Noor’s identity. In fact, Damond’s hometown newspaper in Australia ran a front-page headline reading “AMERICAN NIGHTMARE” in reference to what Australians quoted in the piece see as a country “infested” with guns and a “very risky place in terms of gun violence.” Damond’s family, which just suffered a tragic loss at the hands of police, hasn't focused on Noor’s identity as particularly relevant in reports. Fox News is the exception, not the norm.

    In the cases of police brutality against Jordan Edwards, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and many others, all of whom were black, Fox News assigned no particular relevance to the nationalities of the officers involved. But the network did, in various cases, invite guests to defend the officers’ actions, criticize the victims of the shooting, or use the incident to promote questionable or problematic policing tactics. The disproportionate attention Fox News paid to Noor’s immigrant background and its resistance to defend him elucidates the limits of its pro-police posture.

    And the network’s coverage, while an outlier for mainstream reporting on the story, is essentially a more sanitized version of stories with headlines like “First Somali-Muslim police officer in Minnesota KILLS blonde yoga instructor in cold blood” and “Unarmed White Woman Murdered In Minnesota, Dems SILENT After Shooter's ID Revealed…”. There are many more. Noor’s religion has not been obsessed upon outside of far-right blogs and Twitter.

    Minnesota’s Somali immigrant community has been a strangely popular target for Fox News and other right-wing media outlets. The network has previously fearmongered about Somali immigrants, called the area “ground zero” for ISIS recruitment, and attacked the Minneapolis mayor for giving her State of the City address in a mosque. Fringe media websites and fake news purveyors recently targeted Minneapolis in response to the city’s announcement that it was launching a hate crimes reporting hotline, claiming the move amounted to “fascism.”

    In its hyperfocus on Noor’s nationality, Fox News served to validate the racism, xenophobia, and debunked associations between immigration and crime espoused by pro-Trump fake news purveyors, conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and notorious Islamophobes alike. Noor's background is only as relevant as it is in any officer-involved shooting, and if it's being touted as more than that, we should be asking why.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched SnapStream between 5 a.m. and midnight on both July 17 and 18 and between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m on July 19 for mentions of “Roy” or “Oliver,” “Edward” or “Jordan,” and “Somali,” "Noor," "Minneapolis," “Minnesota,” "Damond," "Ruszcyzk," and “Australia.” Teaser segments were excluded.

  • Here's how right-wing media have reacted to months of setbacks for Trump's Muslim bans

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    As President Trump's executive orders banning immigration from first seven, then six, majority-Muslim nations have moved through the U.S. court system, they've been met with a series of legal setbacks and direct action and have drawn extensive media coverage. What follows is a timeline of events surrounding the ban, with a focus on right-wing media hypocrisy, denial, and defense of the president's increasingly indefensible policy. This post will be updated.

  • Fox host pushes raids on mosques based on no-go zone lie that previously caused network international embarrassment

    Eric Bolling claims we should "look into the mosques" in "Muslim no-go zones where local cops in France and in Great Britain don't go"

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News host Eric Bolling pushed the myth of “no-go” zones in England, a claim that previously caused international embarrassment for the network which they were forced to admit was a lie.

    In January 2015, two Fox News hosts were forced to apologize for pushing the myth of so-called “no-go zones” in Europe, “places where non-Muslims don’t go” that are governed by Sharia law. Fox’s baseless "no-go zone" claims led to international embarrassment for the network, with former British Prime Minister David Cameron saying the claims were made by a “complete idiot.” Jeanine Pirro and Julie Banderas apologized on-air for hyping the claim, with Julie Banderas admitting there was “no credible information to support the assertion.”

    Two years later, Eric Bolling is taking the lie one step further, claiming authorities should “look into the mosques” in “ Muslim no-go zones where local cops in France and in Great Britain don’t go into these neighborhoods and they let them actually practice Sharia law.” From the June 5 edition of Fox News’ The Specialists:

    ERIC BOLLING (HOST): A few years ago I was on a show and, about five or six years ago on The Five and a guest comes on, there was a terror attack, and the guest talks about the Muslim no-go zones in Europe. He got in a whole crap-load of trouble for saying it. To suggest that there was no-go zones. Now we are finding out in fact there are Muslim -- radical Islamic Muslim no-go zones where local cops in France and in Great Britain don't go into these neighborhoods and they let them actually practice Sharia law. Part of this is PC culture gone amok in Europe.

    […]

    How do you not step up and say, “no we're going to knock down doors in these no-go zones, and we’re going to pull people out, and we’re going to look into the mosques?