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First Muslims, Now Sick People Targeted for Profiling

Reported by Judy - August 16, 2006 -

A day after Fox News promoted the idea of targeting Muslims for profiling at United States airports, another group was being singled out on Fox News for extra special scrutiny at airports.

On Wednesday (August 16, 2006), Fox News' "Dayside" concentrated on coverage of the United Airlines flight from London to Washington, D.C., that was diverted to Boston's Logan International Airport, apparently because of an unruly passenger who may have been claustrophobic.

Even though Fox News repeatedly displayed a chyron reading, "TSA: 'No Link to Terrorism' in This Incident," "Dayside" hammered on the story for several segments through interviews with guests with security.and airline backgrounds, apparently helping fill Fox News' daily fear-mongering quota.

Then co-hosts Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy went to the audience for the program's daily dose of ignorance from the studio audience.

Asked one man, "This could raise the whole issue of profiling. That is, if I'm on the plane with all these folks here, do I have the right to know that 90 percent of them might have claustrophobic or other problems? Therefore, I don't want to fly with anybody."

Dr. Georgia Witkin, a Fox News contributor, reassured the questioner that someone suffering an attack of claustrophobia is unlikely to be a danger to anyone else, if the flight attendants respond properly.

Later in the show, "Dayside" continued its profiling theme, featuring a U.S. citizen, born in Pakistan but raised in the U.S., who was hired by Jet Blue as a pilot, but then was told the offer was being withdrawn because of his Muslim religion and Pakistani nationality. Faisal Baig, a pilot for Independence Air for six years, says the Jet Blue recruitment manager who contacted him admitted the offer was being withdrawn because of his religion and nationality. Baig is suing Jet Blue for discrimination.

"I don't want anybody like myself, who wasn't born here, who is a good American, I don't want them to go through what I'm going through. And ultimately, I guess my main reason for this lawsuit is because I have a child who has a Muslim name, who's three. And if at some point in time in their life, when they apply for a job, whatever that may be, I want them to look at him, I want the employer to look at him and not his name or his religion," said Baig.

"Dayside" co-host Mike Jerrick tried to rationalize Jet Blue's rejection, saying the airline might be worried that passengers would be afraid of Baig as a pilot. But Baig said that issue never arose during his six years as a captain for Independence Air.

"I just have a hard time believing that's really the reason they didn't hire him," Jerrick said, taking Jet Blue's side after admitting that he likes Jet Blue and probably wasn't being objective.

Co-host Juliet Huddy added to the Fox effort to undercut Baig's presentation, asking Baig if he had any way to prove what the Jet Blue individual said.

Too bad Jerrick and Huddy failed to muster a little of that skeptism during Tuesday's show when the idea of Muslim profiling was suggested on their show. But this duo reserve their toughest questions for people who challenge Fox News' conservative stance.