On Tuesday, CNN enjoyed several rounds of reporting and commentating on the embarrassment that has recently befallen longtime bitter rival Fox News. Anchors and reporters at cable’s oldest news networked came off as gleeful as they highlighted the string of corrections and apologies that Fox News issued over the weekend following a whole bunch of loose and unsubstantiated talk about so-called “no-go zones” in Paris and other parts of Europe — scary places where Muslims supposedly dominate the streets, Sharia law governs conduct and police fear to patrol. “There are broad swaths and pockets, as we know, of these ‘no-go zones’ that have Sharia law and they’re only going to get larger because of the fear to acknowledge it and fight it with policies that will stop these immigration tactics,” said Fox News host Andrea Tantaros last Friday.
Despite Fox News’s heartfelt and serious apologies, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has threatened to sue Fox News over the reports. “The image of Paris has been prejudiced and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced,” said Hidalgo to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. At one point on Tuesday, CNN played a mashup of various Fox News apologies, just in case people missed them.
Perhaps Hidalgo should sue CNN as well.
A search through Nexis archives finds that CNN traded in just the sort of “no-go zone” that popped up on Fox News in the days after the Jan. 7 massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine. Let’s start with the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 9, when anchor Wolf Blitzer was chatting with anchor Chris Cuomo:
BLITZER: Chris Cuomo, you are there in Paris for us. Have you sensed from the few days that you’ve been there, a growing anti-Muslim sentiment on the streets of Paris?
CUOMO: No. That would be a very difficult thing to tell. Certainly, I haven’t seen anything that I could report on that way. I mean, we have been getting read in about what cultural tensions do exist here. There’s a large part of the population that is assimilated. What’s happened in north Paris is not a secret. We know there were riots there several years ago. There are what they call a ‘no-go zone.’ There are problems with policing, problems with dis-enfranchisement. And we hear about that in urban centers about what they have to deal with in terms of minorities. But you are also going to have a phobic response when you have a particular member of a group that seems to be attacking the rest. The reaction has been to the violence. It hasn’t been cultural or Muslim centered. It’s just been, who is doing it and how is it going to be stopped?
That night, on Anderson Cooper’s program, the concept crept again into the conversation, as retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen told the host, “Anderson, the Europeans and the French in particular have problems that are the result of also 751 ‘no-go zones’ in France where you have Islamic communities that have formed councils that are managing these areas. And the police don’t go in. If you look at Sweden there are 55 ‘no-go zones’ there. You know, firefighters or ambulance drivers go in there and they’re attacked. Their vehicles are lit on fire, their tires are slashed, and the Europeans have not pushed back against this. They can’t surveil people inside the ‘no-go zones’ if they get and go in there,” said the analyst, who called the zones “enclaves that are completely separated from the government.”
Later in the same broadcast, Cooper himself, a CNN star, put his own name behind the “no-go zone” talk. In posing a question to a Brookings Institution scholar, Cooper said, “Although we have seen in a number of Western European countries, new immigrants particularly from Muslim countries not making as much effort to assimilate into the larger population. We’ve seen that in Sweden, obviously in England, here in France and as one of the guests earlier was talking about, there are kind of ‘no-go zones’ where police don’t even really go into and again it does cut both ways.”
On Saturday, Jan. 10, CNN military analyst Maj. General James “Spider” Marks said this to host Fredricka Whitfield: “And through policies that have been in place, both existing policies that are on the books and what I would call behaviors that exist, for example, the ‘no-go zones,’ there are ‘no-go zones’ not by legal status, was because the police have chosen not to penetrate, and there has been an open effort to keep them isolated.”
Also on that Saturday, retired NYPD detective Harry Houck explained on CNN’s air, “Well, one of the thing – they’re going to have to go into these ‘no-go zones’ and take over again. That’s very important. If they don’t do that, they’re going to find themselves even more vulnerable.” In another discussion that evening, Houck also said this: “The French government has created an environment in these certain neighborhoods where they don’t allow local law enforcement to come in. All right? And by doing that, alright, not only do they follow some of their own Sharia law in these locations, these ‘no-go zones’ in France.”
Now, none of these commentators, anchors or guests went quite as far as terrorism analyst Steve Emerson went on Jan. 10 when he visited the Fox News program “Justice with Judge Jeanine.” There, Emerson claimed that Birmingham, England, was overrun with Muslims: “There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in,” he said. No, Birmingham isn’t totally Muslim. Backlash from that comment came from Prime Minister David Cameron and many others, conferring “no-go zone” ownership upon Fox News, perhaps unfairly.
But what about CNN? A question for the network on whether it should correct the instances above (and there may well be others) is pending.