Accuracy in Media

Having exposed columnists Maggie Gallagher, Armstrong Williams and Michael McManus as being secretly on the Bush Administration’s payroll, you might think that journalists would be adamantly opposed to all kinds of media manipulation. But we’ve seen no outcry over forcing changes in a popular program about terrorism in order to appease a special interest group.

The group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), admits meeting with the Fox television network to discuss Muslim concerns about the drama series “24.” In a press release, CAIR said that it forced Fox to hold the meeting to address the depiction of a “Muslim” family that is at the heart of a terror plot in the program. CAIR said that it is concerned that the portrayal of the family as a terrorist “sleeper cell” may cast a shadow of suspicion over ordinary American Muslims and could increase “Islamophobic stereotyping and bias.”

You may not find that term, Islamophobia, in a dictionary, but it is designed to suggest that if you are concerned about Muslims committing terrorism, you have a disease. CAIR thinks that people watching “24” may think ill of Muslims because a Muslim family is featured in the show plotting terrorism against Americans. Of course, people watching news out of Iraq about Muslim terrorism may come to the same conclusion. But in this case CAIR is concerned about a fictional program.

Incredibly, CAIR has announced that, because of the meeting, Fox officials said that they would distribute a CAIR public service announcement (PSA) to network affiliates and ask that it be aired in proximity to “24.” This PSA is designed to create the image of Muslims being moderate and against terrorism. CAIR says that FOX also gave meeting participants assurances that the “24” program will be “balanced in its portrayal of Muslims.” CAIR added that “Network representatives said that they had already reviewed existing episodes and removed some aspects that could potentially be viewed as stereotypical.”

Fox TV is one branch of the News Corp. conglomerate that includes Fox News. Columnist Cal Thomas, who works for Fox News, likes the “24” show. He says it “brilliantly and persuasively warns America about a secret terrorist family that has been embedded in this country for years. The family blends into a quiet neighborhood until the call to action is sounded, and the secretary of defense is kidnapped and threatened with beheading.” Thomas says that CAIR’s protests demonstrate that the fictitious show is “effective” and could play a role “in awakening docile Americans to reality.”

The CAIR-approved PSA, Thomas says, asserts that all Muslims are not terrorists. He adds, “All Muslims don’t have to be terrorists. The ones who are and who are among us are sufficient to bring more death and damage to this country.”

Thomas is right. Fox is sheepish when it comes to standing up to the Muslim lobby.

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