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International
Last Updated: October 14, 2008
US Media Group FAIR Report Unmasks the Smearcasters and Profiles 12 Top Islamophobes
By Isabel Macdonald

New Delhi, October 14 US media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) has released a first-of-its-kind report on October 8, 2008. It profiles 12 of the leading Islamophobic scholars and media figures. The report, "Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation," also examines the ways they have negatively influenced media coverage in the US.

"This report takes a fresh look at Islamophobia and its perpetrators in today's media," said Steve Rendall, one of the report's authors and a senior analyst at FAIR. The report's list includes talk show hosts like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and Glenn Beck; activists like Michelle Malkin, Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz; and influential writers like Mark Steyn and Robert Spencer.

The report also features four case studies, or snapshots, of how smearcasting has impacted the news cycle:

-- Right-wing pundit Daniel Pipes led a successful campaign to oust the principal of a Secular Arabic-language New York City public school by initiating a media-driven pressure campaign. The Principal's history of forging interfaith and interethnic alliances was ignored as the campaign branded her a "Stealth Islamist", and media pressure eventually forced her to resign.

-- Conservative columnist and Internet activist Michelle Malkin pressured Dunkin' Donuts into dropping an ad featuring celebrity chef Rachael Ray wearing a black-and-white scarf -- which Malkin falsely identified as a keffiyeh, calling it a symbol of "murderous Palestinian jihad."

-- Islamophobia has emerged in the 2008 Presidential election, from nefarious whisper campaigns directed at Senator Barack Obama to the recent distribution of the anti-Muslim propaganda DVD "Obsession" to 28-million newspaper subscribers in swing states.

"We're not talking about people raving on a street corner downtown," said Rendall. "These are people who either have a powerful platform at their disposal or are allowed unfettered access to powerful platforms by reporters and editors in what are considered mainstream publications."

"These Muslim-bashing attacks have a real impact, not only on Muslims in America but on our civil discourse," Rendall added. "We're in the middle of a historic election in which Islamophobia has already played a role, and I don't think we've seen the last of the dirty tricks and the smearcasting. Media need to step up and do their job of separating fact from innuendo, and they should distinguish the impartial experts from the smearcasters."

FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. (Source: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting---FAIR)

---Isabel Macdonald can be contacted at 212-633-6700 x310, imacdonald@fair.org

Also See the Full FAIR Report

 


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