Dan Harris, who last year gave credence, by including their attacks in his stories, to those who wished to discredit the Tea Party as “actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests” and smeared participants as “driven, in part, by a refusal to accept a black President,” on Monday night read from the same playbook in maligning the motivations of those opposed to building a mosque near Ground Zero.
Harris began his World News story with “how this issue is creeping into campaigns all over the country” and “today conservatives were turning up the volume against the planned Muslim community center.” He soon arrived at:
Muslim activists say angry rhetoric is fueling a dangerous level of Islamophobia with protests over proposed mosques in places like Tennessee and Wisconsin, the bombing of a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida, in May, and a church in Gainesville, Florida, that's now planning to burn Korans on September 11th.
That led into a soundbite from Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, followed by a bite from Republican Congressman Peter King, a mosque opponent. Harris, however, then concluded with how more enlightened Republicans realize King's misdirection:
Today, a group of prominent Republicans announced that they are working behind the scenes. These are Republicans of Muslim and Arab descent. They announced that they're working behind the scenes to get their fellow party members to ratchet down the rhetoric.
CBS and NBC framed their coverage through the prism of Obama as a victim of Republican exploitation of the issue and worries about how it will hurt Democrats in the fall.
“This is not what the President wants to be talking about heading into those midterm elections,” CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric fretted. “The President's remarks ignited a firestorm over the weekend and here in Wisconsin today he tried to change the subject,” Chip Reid then began. “After touring a clean energy battery factory outside Milwaukee, the President wanted to talk about jobs,” but “many Republicans want to keep the focus on the controversy stirred up by the President over the weekend...”
On NBC, Chuck Todd reported “the President planned a week of campaigning on his accomplishments, but words he used over the weekend have stepped on that message.” Todd explained Obama's “three-day cross-country campaign blitz” was “a trip intended for the President to showcase things like this -- a start-up advanced battery manufacturing plant that got off the ground thanks to money from Mr. Obama's $800 billion stimulus plan. But over the weekend there was another firestorm....”
Note to Todd: That “money from Mr. Obama's $800 billion stimulus plan” would better be described as money from taxpayers and future generations of Americans.
A September 15, 2009 NewsBusters item (with video), “ABC: Obama Critics 'Driven By Refusal to Accept Black President,'” quoted from a World News story by Harris:
They’ve waved signs likening President Obama to Hitler and the devil; raised questions about whether he was really born in this country; falsely accused him of planning to set up death panels; decried his speech to students as indoctrination; and called him everything from a ‘fascist’ to a ‘socialist’ to a ‘communist.’...
And all that was before Mr. Obama’s speech was interrupted by a representative who once fought to keep the Confederate flag waving over the South Carolina state house. Add it all up, and some prominent Obama supporters are now saying that it paints a picture of an opposition driven, in part, by a refusal to accept a black President.
Harris had tried to discredit the Tea Party protesters on their first day, taking to the April 15, 2009 World News: “Critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” Harris proceeded to argue that “while the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost. What's more, polls show most Americans don't feel overtaxed.”
Full story on the Monday, August 16 ABC's World News, transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Next, less than a month before the 9/11 anniversary, the debate over plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero is growing more intense by the day. President Obama kicked up the controversy when he spoke out on the subject Friday night. Republicans pounced. And tonight the Senate's top Democrat is pulling away from the White House position. Dan Harris is in lower Manhattan tonight. Hey, Dan.
DAN HARRIS: George, good evening. As you know, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, is one of the most staunch allies that the President has. But today, Reid publicly split from Mr. Obama over this controversy here at Ground Zero. And this is just one example of how this issue is creeping into campaigns all over the country. Today conservatives were turning up the volume against the planned Muslim community center.
RICK SCOTT, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, IN AD: Mr. President, Ground Zero is the wrong place for a mosque.
NEWT GINGRICH ON FNC: Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
HARRIS: President Obama did his best to avoid the issue today. He gave a speech on Friday that seemed to support the project, only to seemingly backtrack somewhat the next day.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, ON SATURDAY: I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there.
HARRIS: Critics say the President is putting his allies in a tough spot, with polls showing more than two-thirds of Americans against the community center [on screen: 68% to 29% in CNN/Opinion Research poll]. Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who's in a tough re-election fight against a Tea Party Republican, came out against the project, saying in a statement that the mosque should be built elsewhere. Muslim activists say angry rhetoric is fueling a dangerous level of Islamophobia with protests over proposed mosques in places like Tennessee and Wisconsin-
UNIDENTIFIED MAN IN FRONT OF MICROPHONE: There isn't a Muslim in this room that can say they peacefully assemble.
HARRIS: -the bombing of a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida, in May, and a church in Gainesville, Florida, that's now planning to burn Korans on September 11th.
IBRAHIM HOOPER, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Even after 9/11, there was a reservoir of good will, we had people bringing flowers to mosques that were vandalized nationwide, but I've really never seen the level of Islamophobia that we're experiencing today.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY): I'm not going to allow Muslim leaders to deter someone like myself from speaking out under this claim of Islamophobia. The main focus of this debate should be: Does that mosque belong at Ground Zero? And the answer is, it does not.
HARRIS: Today, a group of prominent Republicans announced that they are working behind the scenes. These are Republicans of Muslim and Arab descent. They announced that they're working behind the scenes to get their fellow party members to ratchet down the rhetoric.