After the Islamic State terrorist attacks last year in Paris, CNN International host John Vause asked: “Why is it that no one within the Muslim community there in France knew what these guys were up to?” That question was directed to Yasser Louati, a representative for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France. Vause took a great deal of heat for blaming Muslims for failing to properly investigate and head off the Paris terror attacks.
This morning on “Fox & Friends,” the same sentiments hit the airwaves. This time, the objectionable suggestions were coming out of the mouth of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, and they met little resistance from the pliant crew of the Fox News morning program. The topic, of course, was the Orlando nightclub “The Pulse,” where Omar Mateen, who expressed loyalty to the Islamic State, massacred 49 other people Saturday night. “There are many, many people — thousands of people already in our country that are sick with hate and people that are around him — Muslims — know who they are, largely, they know who they are,” said Trump. “They have to turn them in. They know who they are. They see ’em. Like in the case of San Bernardino, there were bombs all over the floor. Many people saw the bombs. Those bombs weren’t there as play toys and they could have been reported long before San Bernardino took effect. Nobody’s reporting these people.”
Upon hearing those words, the “Fox & Friends” team could have responded with any number of approaches: Pointing out, for instance, that Mateen wasn’t unknown to the authorities: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation was called in after reports from Mr. Mateen’s co-workers that he, the American-born son of Afghan immigrants, had suggested he may have had terrorist ties. The F.B.I. interviewed him twice, but after surveillance, records checks and witness interviews, agents were unable to verify any terrorist links and closed their investigation.”
Or “Fox & Friends” could have noted that the imam at Mateen’s mosque said he was “really quiet”; or that his ex-wife said he’d “never expressed sympathies for terrorist organizations or radical Islamists,” according to the New York Times.
And “Fox & Friends” could have questioned whether it’s fair to hold “Muslims” — a population of 1.6 billion people worldwide — responsible for the actions of a single criminal Muslim. Are Christians held to that standard of self-policing?
Instead of pressing Trump on any of those points, here’s the question that “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt whipped up: “Now Mr. Trump, we traveled across the country asking people covering the primaries why you’re their favorite pick, why you became the nominee and they’re all saying because you’re not politically correct. You say what’s on your mind. But when you talk to individuals and you ask them why wasn’t this guy caught, many people said they saw the red flags, they were just scared because of political correctness to come forward and call the cops on this guy. What’s your message now for America who has been so fearful because they didn’t want to be called Islamophobic?”
Part of Trump’s response: “Many, many people are out there with worse intentions than what this guy had — worse, and they’re out there. And people in his community and their community, they know who the people are. In some cases, they’re married to them….People knew that this guy was gonna create a bad act. They have to turn him in.”
Next came a question from host Steve Doocy about Islamic State radio.
The business-as-usual interview also included a stunning claim by Trump about President Obama’s reaction to the shooting: “We’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it, people cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”
Huh? What’s this “something going on”? Was Trump suggesting something really dark and conspiratorial? We don’t know, because “Fox & Friends” failed to press him. Again. So the “Today” show had to clean up the mess.