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The Fear Factor In The Heartland Big Story

Reported by Chrish - August 13, 2006 -


Imagine my disappointment when Fox showed the preview for Heartland 8-12-06, with the heart stopping chyron “High Alert, Terror Plots and Your Safety" under a picture of John Gibson – not the drunken anti-Semite; but the well coiffed and hopefully sober host of the Big Story.

The entire show was all about being very afraid - as noted in Gibson’s show “preview” which began with his question “Is there a bomb plot here? Has it spilled over to America’s shores and how will it affect you?”

After some coverage of the cease-fire in Lebanon, there was a news story done by a very blond female newscaster, about the men who were arrested after buying the Wal*Mart pre-paid phone. This served as the lead in to a “talking heads” segment that featured Annie Triton, whom Gibson described as a “terror tracking mom,” J. Michael Barrett of the Manhattan Institute, and Elena Gordon of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (comment: a very neo-con group whose Vice Chairman is Tucker Carlson’s dad, former ambassador Richard W Carlson).

Ms. Triton discussed how, in her monitoring of chat rooms, she has found bomb making manuals and other subversive “chat.” (Comment: Annie is not just a “terror tracking mom.” She is, as I noted in my review of a past Heartland show, an employee of Phoenix Security Systems. She must be some kind of super secret agent as on both Heartland appearances, she was “blacked out.”)

When Barrett was asked by Gibson if there was a danger of Islamic terrorists infiltrating American universities, he responded that terrorists run the gamut of age groups. His non-political agenda contrasted with Ms. Gordon’s comments (the requisite Fox “message”) about the cell phone arrests.

She stated that “terrorists try to do things that look legal…” and as such we should “go further than we want in a free society to examine what is happening.” (Comment: that’s really scary.) She went on to say that radical Islamists want to infiltrate Muslims organizations that “seem legit.” Rather than ask how these groups could be investigated within a legal context, Gibson asked if these groups were in the US to which she replied that it was “certain” that they are. She added that Al Qaida and Hezbollah members could be “someone you know, a teacher, banker, a neighbor” and that it is “us vs. them.” (Comment: Life mirrors art – it’s the old Twilight Zone episode, “the monsters are due on Main Street” – be very afraid of Muslims! Ms. Gordon, in her “us vs. them” comment was certainly channeling Bush’s “you’re either for us or against us” rhetoric).

Later in the show, Gibson featured a discussion about the Iranian/Hezbollah connection which included Ilario Pantano, Iraq veteran and author of “Warlord,” retired Major-general Don Edwards, and Ghazal Ohmid “Iran Islamic Law Expert” and author of “Living In Hell: A True Odyssey of a Woman's Struggle in Islamic Iran Against Personal and Political Forces.” Ms. Ohmid, who spoke first, asserted that Iran is “getting ready to hit Israel in Lebanon and Israel.” She noted that Iran is getting ready to “nuke” Israel and that the Iranians are building shelters in Tehran. Reason prevailed in this segment, as the other two commentators disagreed with her assessment as being very unrealistic. (Comment: Ohmid’s histrionics made the biggest impression in that segment)

The last two segments provided quite a “twist,” as Gibson did not get the results that he was hoping for. He interviewed two American Muslims, Imam Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society and Muhammad Ali Hassan of the Muslims for America. (previously known as Muslims for Bush).

To Gibson’s question of “why is the situation in Lebanon Bush’s fault,” the Imam replied that Bush allowed Israel to “decimate Lebanon.” When Bray started to say that Rice was “fiddling in Rome,” Gibson cut him off. He then introduced the other gentleman by stating that Mr. Hassan had recently met with President Bush in Texas. Gibson asked him to respond to how Bush would respond to Bray’s statement and smiled when Hassan said that Bush has done a “terrific job” and that he (Hassan) doesn’t support a cease-fire. Gibson’s smile evaporated when Hassan said the “Israel is a major stumbling block to peace…they are a militaristic bully…Israel has learned a hard lesson…” at which point Gibson interrupted and said “wait a minute, is Hezbollah off the hook”? Hassan replied that Israel is “hiding behind bombs and guns.” Gibson interrupted again and asked the Imam what his solution would be, to which the Imam responded, “a cease fire.” When Bray stated that Israel based its invasion on hostage taking and that was something that is very common on both sides, Gibson cut him off.

Gibson previewed his last guest by saying, (comment: voice dripping with sarcasm) “other Arab states are saying it’s all Israel’s fault and Hezbollah is not to blame and our next guest has authored a book about Syria…” David Lesch, author of “New Lion of Damascus” was cut short in the middle of his statement about Bush needing to establish a dialogue with Syria as Gibson needed to end the show

Comment: In typical Fox fashion, this was all about being afraid of those who are different. I, personally, enjoyed the bit of a “blind side” that Gibson got at the end of show.

And just when I was going through Kasich withdrawal pangs, he appeared, in a film clip in the middle of the show, exhorting moderate Arab leaders to “stand up to the fanatics.” I’m sure that moderate Arab leaders are big fans of Heartland, and they are taking heed of Kasich’s message while we take heed to Gibson’s – be afraid, be very afraid!