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Ground Zero Mosque Coverage Spotlights Media Bias

By Ronald Kessler   |   Tuesday, 24 Aug 2010 02:37 PM

If you want to know why the mainstream media are in financial trouble, take a look at coverage of the ground zero mosque controversy.

Opponents of the plan to build the mosque two blocks from the fallen World Trade Center began marshaling support on blogs late last year. On Dec. 8, The New York Times ran a story on the project, but it made no mention of any controversy and was entirely sympathetic toward the plan to build the mosque.

“The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July,” the story said. “A presence so close to the World Trade Center, ‘where a piece of the wreckage fell,’ said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, ‘sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.’”

After a New York City community board approved the project in May, Pamela Geller began running a series of articles on her website, Atlas Shrugs, quoting opponents of the mosque. On May 16, the Washington Examiner ran a critical piece by Dianne West. On the same day, the New York Post published a story highlighting the fact that promoters of the project have yet to raise any funds.

Meanwhile, newspapers throughout the rest of the world began running stories on the controversy.

“Ground Zero Mosque Proposal Sparks Emotion” was the headline in the Townsville Bulletin in Australia. “New Yorkers Outraged by Muslim Group’s Plan to Build Grand Mosque Near Ground Zero” said a headline in the Hindustan Times.

Not a peep from The New York Times.

On May 17, Newsmax ran its first story on the controversy, followed by dozens more, including my story, "Ground Zero Mosque Reveals Deeper Muslim Problem."

On May 20, Sean Hannity featured the controversy on his Fox News show.
“There has been great outrage following plans for a mosque set to be built just blocks from the site of 9/11's ground zero,” Hannity said. “And now the imam spearheading the building of this 13-story structure is defending his plans.”

On May 26, The New York Times buried a 699-word story on page 26 of the Metropolitan Section on the Manhattan community board meeting where opponents voiced their views. Not until June 11 did the Times run a comprehensive story on the controversy: “Debate Heating Up on Plans for Mosque Near Ground Zero.”

The Washington Post ran 255 words of an AP story on the mosque controversy on May 7, but the paper did not begin to cover the issue until July and August.

The slow response of the American mainstream media reflects both a bias against reporting on issues of interest to conservatives and a disinclination to wade into territory that may be novel or considered politically incorrect. If you want to see an example of that, look at any issue of the revamped Newsweek, which consists of dull essays rehashing traditional liberal points of view.

That blindness to issues of interest to millions of Americans tells you why the mainstream media are foundering financially.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.

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