MSNBC Falsely Claims Fox News Blamed Muslims for Notre Dame Blaze

On MSNBC Tuesday afternoon, anchor Stephanie Ruhle and reporter Ben Collins falsely accused Fox News of promoting fake online claims that Islamic terrorism was responsible for the massive fire that consumed France’s Notre Dame cathedral on Monday.

“Now, I must turn to a disturbing, disturbing angle of the story we have been following out of Paris, where the famed Notre Dame church, cathedral was destroyed by the fire....if you thought the fire was the worst of the story, I want you to listen to this,” Ruhle proclaimed as the segment began. She noted how “online trolls edited images to push conspiracy theories” that the fire was an act of terrorism despite the cause still being under investigation by French authorities.  

 

 

After Ruhle highlighted that “Twitter and YouTube are now taking serious heat for letting those doctored videos spread far and wide,” Collins explained: “So there’s a video on YouTube where they superimpose someone screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ over the video....We know that didn’t happen...”

“And by this point it gets to the civilian internet, right, where these white nationalist trolls try to push this message that Islam or Muslims had something to do with this, while knowing full well that they’re making it up,” he added.

Moments later, the reporter cited “this woman named Faith Goldy, who’s a Canadian white nationalist” pushing the claims on Twitter, “And then, by the end of the day...there are people on Fox News trying to bring it up. It got squashed on Fox News, but people bring it up – ” Ruhle feared: “Tucker Carlson at 9:00 p.m., millions of viewers, was talking about that?” Collins wrongly asserted:

Yeah. Regular people see this stuff. Just because, look, you don't have to identify as a white nationalist to get their talking points about a recent tragedy by the end of the day. You can just wait a couple hours and that's how it goes now.

Beyond Ruhle getting Carlson’s time slot wrong – he’s on at 8:00 p.m. ET – at no point in his Monday night show did he suggest Muslims had anything to do with the fire.

During a discussion with conservative commentator Mark Steyn, Carlson did accurately mention a string of Catholic churches being desecrated across France in recent months, though was careful not to claim any connection to the Notre Dame fire:

So this is not – and we’re not, want to be clear, speculating about the cause of this fire – though, you know, it happened, as Trace Gallagher just noted, at the beginning of Holy Week and it is not the only church that has caused caught fire in France in the last year or – you’ve seen quite a few desecrations of churches – again, not saying this is one of them – but give us a sense of the scale of what’s been happening.

When Collins talked about conspiracy theories being “squashed on Fox News” earlier in the day, he seemed to be referring to anchor Shepard Smith unfairly shutting down a french guest who also pointed to factual reporting on recent church desecrations. Those crimes were covered by media outlets like the Washington Post and Newsweek just weeks ago, many of which were attributed to “anarchist and feminist groups.”

It’s one thing for MSNBC to rightfully discredit false stories on social media, it’s another to make fake news of their own by smearing a competitor like Fox with equally false accusations.

Here is a full transcript of the April 16 segment:

1:31 PM ET

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Now, I must turn to a disturbing, disturbing angle of the story we have been following out of Paris, where the famed Notre Dame church, cathedral was destroyed by the fire. If you didn’t – if you thought the fire was the worst of the story, I want you to listen to this. French officials say the fire was not arson. It was not the work of terrorism. Yet before the blaze was even put out, online trolls edited images to push conspiracy theories. Twitter and YouTube are now taking serious heat for letting those doctored videos spread far and wide.

NBC’s Ben Collins is following the story. Ben, again, Twitter and Facebook and YouTube can all day long say they are not media outlets, but they are where millions of people consume their news every day. And yesterday, those media outlets were sharing information that it was terrorists that caused the fire yesterday. Are the images still up?

BEN COLLINS: Yeah. So there’s a video on YouTube where they superimpose someone screaming “Allahu Akbar” over the video. We know that –

RUHLE: Do we know who did it?

COLLINS: We know that didn’t happen, first of all, because the very first time you Google “Alluha Akbar screaming,” on Google, that’s where the audio comes from, it’s like five years old. Somebody just put it on top of it. It was a 4Chan troll, it was somebody using like a 4Chan white nationalist avatar who did it. But then that gets spread to the replies of the President’s tweet and somebody puts it on Twitter. And that gets pulled down, but not fast enough. It’s still on YouTube. We can’t figure out why they – it’s been reported, I can’t tell you how many times. But it is out there and it hasn’t stopped. And by this point it gets to the civilian internet, right, where these white nationalist trolls try to push this message that Islam or Muslims had something to do with this, while knowing full well that they’re making it up.

RUHLE: Is it a crime to do it?

COLLINS: It’s not a crime, but it is something that these – that Twitter and Facebook can take down, they have just chosen not to do it.

RUHLE: And why haven’t they?

COLLINS: It’s a really good question at this point.

RUHLE: What has their response been?

COLLINS: It’s always, “We’re working on it.” It’s always, “We’re doing better.” And you know what, sometimes there’s math that says that they’re doing it better, but you can do incremental steps to make this better or you can just stop it. They have this woman named Faith Goldy, who’s a Canadian white nationalist. She was banned from Facebook last week. She’s still verified on Twitter, she has that little tick that puts you up right next to news organizations. So when she pushes this conspiracy, which she did yesterday on Twitter –  

RUHLE: And that’s how it makes it to the top, because she’s got the check.

COLLINS: Makes it to the top. And then, by the end of the day, Glenn Beck is talking about it. You know, there are people on Fox News trying to bring it up. It got squashed on Fox News, but people bring it up –   

RUHLE: Tucker Carlson at 9:00 p.m., millions of viewers, was talking about that?

COLLINS: Yeah. Regular people see this stuff. Just because, look, you don't have to identify as a white nationalist to get their talking points about a recent tragedy by the end of the day. You can just wait a couple hours and that's how it goes now.

RUHLE: Wow. These social media giants, I’m just not sure how at this point they can say they should not be considered media outlets. You can’t bubble up to the top and make it onto our website, I’m not sure why you should be able to theirs. Ben, thank you so much. Really important reporting. And if you have seen any of those reports, block them, delete them, report them. It’s horrible.

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