On Tuesday’s "Morning Joe," MSNBC host Joe Scarborough mocked the very concept of CNN’s upcoming specials on Muslim, Christian and Jewish extremism. Anticipating the possible moral relativism that the Christiane Amanpour-hosted series may take, Scarborough sarcastically observed, "They’re going to study Muslim extremism, then Christian extremism, because we know Christians have, have slaughtered thousands of people across the globe in bombings..."
Comparing the CNN anchor to a liberal talk show host, an incredulous Scarborough added, "Is this Rosie O'Donnell or is this Christine Amanpour?" (In 2006, O’Donnell famously claimed that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam...") Returning to the subject later in the 7am hour, Scarborough derided the cable network again. He complained, "But to say, as CNN appears to be saying, that Muslim extremism and Jewish extremism and Christian extremism, sort of, is equal, that there is moral equivalence...between those three, that’s just ridiculous."
On August 20, MRC news analyst Matthew Balan previewed the upcoming CNN specials. (They begin airing on August 21 and run through the 23.) He noted that an AP article about the series lends credence to the idea that Amanpour would promote moral equivalence between Islamic terrorists and a "fundamentalist Christian group." The AP piece reads, in part:
The segment on Christians explores BattleCry in some depth, digging at the roots of an organization that fights against some of the cruder elements of popular culture and urges teenagers to be chaste. In noting how girls at some BattleCry events are encouraged to wear long dresses, Amanpour asks the group's leader how it is different from the Taliban.
A partial transcript of the discussion during the August 21 edition of "Morning Joe" follows:
Joe Scarborough: "I am upset a little bit about something right now. And I went on TV Newser and I and saw that CNN and Christiane Amanpour, they’re going to study religious extremism. She’s got this special. She’s going to be on Larry King tonight. I'm going to be watching ‘cause I'm going to be watching it because I’m going to be a little bothered if they're trying to say that there is moral relativity. They’re going to study Muslim extremism, then Christian extremism, because we know Christians have, have slaughtered thousands of people across the globe in bombings–"
Willie Geist: "Oh, yeah."
Scarborough: "–and Jewish extremism. [Willie Geist starts laughing.] I’m sorry. Come on! It is okay to say that, right now, the vast majority of religious extremists are members of one faith. That doesn’t mean that every Muslim is a terrorist. That doesn’t even mean that even 99 percent of Muslims are terrorists. But to do a three part series on Muslim extremism, Christian extremism and then, uh, Jewish extremism? Is this Rosie O'Donnell or is this Christiane Amanpour? You understand what I’m saying here, Willie? I mean, come on."
Willie Geist: "Well, there are Christian extremists. There are Jewish extremists, but it means an entirely different thing to be a Christian extremist and a Muslim extremist these days. I think the evidence proves that."
Scarborough: "Right. Yeah, exactly. If you're a Christian extremist, then when you send your daughter to school, her, her, her dress is below her ankles and it’s weighted so in case she jumps up, the dress stays down. Much different than the other type of extremism that we're talking about. So, I’m just a little bothered by it."
Scarborough: "Chris, I understand though, we have been getting some e-mails regarding this CNN special report on extremism. Muslim extremism, Jewish extremism and Christian extremism. Right?
Chris, MSNBC producer: "Yeah, we get– Religion is always a big one with e-mailers. And, some, a lot of e-mail about saying that Christian radicals bomb abortion clinics."
Scarborough: "Yep. Sure."
Chris, MSNBC producer: "And we’ve got one that says, ‘Joe, please don’t demonstrate your ignorance, or is it your prejudice, by ignoring the fact of Christian religious extremism. You're apparently and educated man, ever hear of the Christian crusades? Duh.’"
Scarborough: "No, I never heard of those! When did that– You know, that’s what I love, that’s what I love. You know, it’s like, Christopher Columbus, they will say, when you talk about extremism, they’ll say, ‘You know, it’s all the same. Christian extremism is the same as Muslim extremism.’ Because, as you were saying, Christopher Columbus, you were saying that a lot of people say, ‘Christopher Columbus brought disease to the new world.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, in 1492.’ I was like, earlier this summer though, we had bombings in London. We’ve got, I mean, look over the past 10 years. And, sure, yeah. Abortion clinics. Christian extremists bomb abortion clinics. I don’t know the last one that was bombed, but let's just have a little tally, Willie, and compare that with Muslim extremism right now. And again, I'm not being prejudiced against Muslims. It is a religion of peace. In fact, I have a tattoo on, on the side, right here, that says Islam–"
Geist: "I love that one."
Scarborough: "You love that one?"
Geist: "Yeah. That’s my favorite of your tats."
Scarborough: "–is the religion of peace. So, yes. I, I will repeat that mantra. Let's all say it together; Islam is the religion of peace. But it has been hijacked by a small group of people. And when you have a religion that has over a billion people, it doesn’t take a whole lot to cause major havoc and that is what’s going on right now. But to say, as CNN appears to be saying, that Muslim extremism and Jewish extremism and Christian extremism, sort of, is equal, that there is moral equivalence, I found the word, between those three, that’s just ridiculous."