The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Tuesday turned away a Christian Broadcasting Network camera crew from a press conference open to other media, accusing the network started by Pat Robertson of bias against Muslims.
CBN reported Wednesday that CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper barred the crew from covering an announcement that the Muslim advocacy group is helping six Islamic clerics sue U.S. Airways for discriminating against the imams by removing them from a flight last November.
Asked by a CBN cameraman why they were being excluded, Hooper allegedly pushed his camera and told him to leave.
“We have long barred the Christian Broadcasting Network from our news conferences because of their long, long history of vicious, anti-Muslim bigotry,” Hooper said later. “And we have no motivation to promote that kind of intolerance, and it’s a private function, and we have decided they are not welcome.”
According to CBN, a Washington Times reporter who has questioned aspects of the imam story was also shut out of the event.
CBN said it the third time CAIR refused them access.
The first was in May 2005, at a news conference at the National Press Club. Asked why CAIR excluded the crew from a publicized event, Hooper reportedly said at the time, “CBN has a very biased attitude towards the Muslim community in America–Islam in general–has made a number of defamatory attacks on Muslims and Islam, and we don’t feel it’s appropriate to have them in a Muslim news conference.”
The nation’s largest Islamic civil rights group, CAIR condemns discrimination against Muslims.
CAIR director Nihad Awad said the group practiced selectively screening of the news media because, “CBN does not have the credibility of being objective reporting.”
“They just attack people,” he said, “worse than FOX.”
Founded by televangelist Pat Robertson in 1961, CBN pioneered a variety program called “The 700 Club,” one of the longest-running programs in broadcast history, which set the standard for religious television ever since.
Originally a full network, Robertson sold CBN to Fox, which renamed it “Fox Family Channel,” and later resold it to Disney, which renamed it ABC Family. Today CBN exists as a production company for “The 700 Club” and other syndicated programs.
Robertson, who ran for president in 1988, has repeatedly denounced the religion and people of Islam. In 2005 he said, “Islam, at least at its core, teaches violence.” Last year he called radical Muslims “fanatics” motivated by “demonic power” and said the goal of Islam is “world domination.”
Last fall Robertson said Muslims “deal with history and the truth with violence” and “don’t understand what reasoned dialogue is.”
In 2006 a CBN senior reporter concluded a news report by claiming that controversial newspaper cartoons perceived as anti-Islamic “seem to have unified the Muslim world against the West,” but it remained to be seen whether the cartoons “will also unify the West in defense of its civilization.”
Contrary to the suggestion of Islamic unanimity, Media Matters reported, many religious leaders and government officials representing Muslims condemned widespread rioting following publication of the cartoons.
In 2001 Robertson agreed with Jerry Falwell in a “700 Club” interview in which Falwell placed blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on “Islamic fundamentalists, radical terrorists, Middle-Eastern monsters” he said want to destroy Israel and conquer the world.
“The ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for this,” Falwell continued. “And I know I’ll hear from them for this, but throwing God … successfully with the help of the federal court system … throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad….”
“I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America…. I point a finger in their face and say you helped this happen,” Falwell said.
“I totally concur,” Robertson said, “and the problem is we’ve adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government, and so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do, and the top people, of course, is the court system.”
Falwell added, “Pat, did you notice yesterday that the ACLU and all the Christ-haters, the People for the American Way, NOW, etc., were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress, as they went out on the steps and called out to God in prayer and sang ‘God bless America’ and said, let the ACLU be hanged?
“In other words,” he said, “when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time, calling on God.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.