Tuesday, February 08, 2011


I've been saying (in the last post, for instance) that I think Glenn Beck's job at Fox is secure, no matter how much criticism he's getting on the right from the likes of Bill Kristol. And now, via Ellen at NewsHounds, here's a clip that confirms my suspicions. It's not from Beck's show -- it's from Sean Hannity's show last night.

In the clip Hannity cuts to Frank Luntz, who's conducting a focus group of Iowa Republican caucus voters. The first subject Luntz chooses to bring up is the reaction of the group to Obama's response, in his Bill O'Reilly interview, to a question on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The focus group watched the interview while twiddling approval-disapproval dials -- and great disapproval was measured as Obama failed to declare the Brotherhood pure evil.

Then we cut back to Luntz and the assembled focus-groupers -- and, in short order (about 2:20 in) we get this from one Iowan:

I believe that Barack Obama's religious beliefs do govern his foreign policy.... I believe that he is a Muslim.

In a show of hands, roughly half the group agrees.

In the ensuing discussion, the group debates whether Obama's belief system is Islam or liberalism ("the most intolerant religion of all," in the words of one of the Iowans).

At this point, are we any more than perhaps an inch to the left of Glenn Beck? Beck is telling us that Islam/Islamicism (to the Fox community, there's no difference) is liberalism. How different is what the focus groupers are saying, really?

Ellen thinks the segment may have gotten out of hand. She thinks Luntz was taken aback by the Obama's-a-Muslim show of hands:

Up until that point, I was suspicious that Luntz knew his group's beliefs in advance and had begun the Muslim Brotherhood discussion with an eye toward steering the discussion that way. But then Luntz sounded a bit dismayed as he said, "Now, do you understand the implications of what you’re saying here, what the media’s gonna say about this group and about Iowa caucus voters in the future? You realize what you’re opening up here?"

And she thought Hannity tried to close the segment by steering the discussion to (somewhat) less controversial grounds:

Hannity quickly said he wanted to point out that Obama "was in Rev. Wright's church, which believes in black liberation theology predicated on a very leftist, socialist, redistributive model -- and I don't question that aspect of President Obama, in terms of he believes in Christian faith, although I believe a radical one, hanging out with Wright."

Maybe that's an accurate assessment and I'm reading this all wrong -- however, I just can't believe these two media pros went into this segment without knowing what the focus groupers had to say. I think this a media version of Good Cop, Bad Cop -- I think it was a Fox effort to feed (and feed off) the Obama's-a-Muslim rage that's widespread in Fox's audience, while pointedly shying away from a full-throated endorsement of the idea. This way, Hannity, Luntz, and Fox have it both ways.

As Ellen notes, Hannity has been fixated on the notion of Obama as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. (In addition to those links, I'd add a clip from Hannity's show last night -- a discussion with John Bolton and K.T. McFarland headlined "Muslim State in Egypt Now Inevitable?")

Really, how much further into La-La Land is Glenn Beck? All he's doing is refusing to hedge his bets. He's not hitting those conspiracy-theory pleasure/rage centers in Fox viewers' brains much more than Hannity is. And nobody thinks Hannity's job is on the line, right?

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