by JUSTIN BERRIER
In an upcoming biography of Fox News president Roger Ailes, author Zev Chafets reports that Ailes hasn’t donated to any Muslim charities, and connects that decision to comments tying all Muslim charities to terrorism. Ailes’ brand of Islamophobia is mirrored in Fox News’ coverage, which has repeatedly tried to connect all Muslims and Muslim institutions with terrorism.
In his new book Roger Ailes: Off Camera, an early copy of which was obtained by Media Matters, Chafets describes Ailes’ charitable giving as being spread among a variety of religious charities. Despite giving to charities of various faiths, Chafets reported that Ailes has not given to any Muslim charities, quoting Ailes as saying he would only support those organizations “if they disarm” (emphasis added):
“I’ve been kicked out of every damn church I’ve ever belonged to,” says Roger Ailes. It is a buccaneer’s boast, meant to convey a hard-core irreverence. Ailes is not, by any means, a conventional born-again Christian of the Mike Huckabee variety, let alone Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. He wouldn’t use the word himself, but he is ecumenical. He donates considerable sums each year to a small Protestant church near his home in Garrison, although he is not on its membership rolls. He donates upward of 10 percent of his net income to charities, many of them religious, including an annual fifty grand to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and another fifty grand to Catholic charities. He told me he’d be glad to give to Muslim charities, too, “if they disarm.”
The implication that all Muslim charities are connected to terrorism is in line with the Islamophobic rhetoric that regularly appears on Fox News. Fox hosts and guests have a long history of invoking terrorism to attack Muslims and Islam:
- In an appearance on ABC’s The View, Fox host Bill O’Reilly declared “Muslims killed us on 9-11.” O’Reilly used the claim to justify his opposition to a planned Islamic community center located two blocks away from New York City’s Ground Zero. O’Reilly later said, “If anybody felt I was demeaning all Muslims, I apologize.”
- Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade defended O’Reilly’s statement by saying “there was a certain group of people that attacked us on 9-11. It wasn’t just one person. It was one religion. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” On his radio show later in the day, Kilmeade asserted that it’s a “fact” that “every terrorist is a Muslim.” Following widespread criticism of his remarks, Kilmeade“clarified” his comments, saying “I’m sorry about that, if I offended … or hurt anybody’s feelings. But that’s it.”
- On The O’Reilly Factor, regular Fox guest Ann Coulter& advocated racial profiling by claiming terrorists “all look alike. They’re all foreign-born … They’re all Muslim”
- On The Five, co-host Eric Bolling falsely claimed “every terrorist on American soil has been a Muslim.”
- In a months-long attack on the proposed Islamic community center Park51, Fox News hosts and guests regularly invoked terrorism. Contributor Dick Morris claimed the center would “train the same kind of terrorists that caused the attacks” on 9-11. Bolling predicted Park51 “may be a meeting place for some of the scariest minds — some of the biggest terrorist minds.” Kilmeade described the center by saying “the next Hamburg cell could be right downtown,” a reference to the terrorist cell whose members executed the 9-11 hijackings.
Chafets’ book is not the first to report on Ailes’ Islamophobia. In a 2011 Rolling Stone profile of Ailes, Tim Dickinson described Ailes putting “Fox News on lockdown” after “observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb.” Dickinson quoted a source close to Ailes saying “He has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim — which is consistent with the ideology of his network”:
Inside his blast-resistant office at Fox News headquarters, Ailes keeps a monitor on his desk that allows him to view any activity outside his closed door. Once, after observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb, he put Fox News on lockdown. “What the hell!” Ailes shouted. “This guy could be bombing me!” The suspected terrorist turned out to be a janitor. “Roger tore up the whole floor,” recalls a source close to Ailes. “He has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim — which is consistent with the ideology of his network.”