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Move Over MoveOn, Banderas Bashes Columbia University

Reported by Chrish - September 23, 2007 -

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla

“You better watch, out; you better not cry,” Ahmadinejad is coming to town and Julie Banderas covered this big story with big right wing histrionics and talking points.

Banderas introduced the topic by informing us that Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was “mouthing off,” in a Saturday speech in Tehran, with “strong words for the US.” In case you didn’t get it, the chyron, which continued during the segment, read “Iran’s president with strong words for the West, one day before his trip to New York.” (Comment: at no point in the show, were these “strong words” quoted). Banderas interviewed the very “leggy” Laura Ingle (Comment: Fox does love that full leg shot before the close-up!) about the “controversy” surrounding Columbia’s allowing Ahmadinejad to speak. I say interview, but the questions were really right wing talking points meant to underscore what Fox wants its viewers to be outraged about.

Banderas said that she “got freedom of speech;” but saw the Columbia visit as a “security issue” because Iran’s president is “one of the most hated men in America.” (Comment: more than Dick Cheney?!) In a typically disjointed comment, she asked “so apparently the students. How are they reacting? I know the University has said that they don’t condone his deplorable statements and acts, but by inviting him on campus, isn’t that condoning?” Ingle said that it provides an opportunity for students to interview the leader, but “some people say it’s grotesque.”

Banderas wondered if the students would “storm the stage” like they did when the Minutemen spoke at Columbia. In case you didn’t get that Columbia is liberal, Ingle added that ROTC is not allowed at the school. That provided Julie with another pearl of wisdom: “If you’re pro-military you can’t speak at Columbia, but if you want all Jews to be wiped off the entire world, Israel to be wiped off the map, it’s OK. That’s hard to believe.”

There were several more Columbia bashings, but between the pieces, Banderas showed photos of what was supposedly a recent military parade in Tehran and told us that the weapons had “death to American and Israel” written on them. (Comment: I could not see any writing on anything other than the reviewing stand.) She also read e-mails from viewers who were, predictably, opposed to the Columbia and NY visit. (Comment: what part of UN don’t these people understand?) One e-mailer said that Ahmadinejad isn’t entitled to free speech because he’s not a citizen. (Comment: Guess if you’re a foreign tourist, you better watch your mouth.)

Banderas interviewed John Davisson, editor in chief of the Columbia Spectator, who listened politely to her rants about Iran and IED’s and her question about why Columbia would provide a “terrorist” with a forum for his views. She said that she couldn’t imagine why, after city leaders “banned him,” Columbia would “go against what the city stands for.” Davisson replied that he was sorry that “this defies your sense of imagination” and stated his belief that it’s important to confront this man. He added that the protestors also had a First Amendment right to voice their views.

To provide a rebuttal, Banderas interviewed smarmy right wing radio host Mike Gallagher who worked in a not so subtle Columbia bashing: “c’mon, I hope John has a chance to ask questions because the answer would be “you guys are stupid enough to invite me. You’re moronic enough to give me a platform to spew my views.” Gallagher also mentioned Iran and IEDs and accused Columbia of being “totally disengenuous’ in citing freedom of speech after students stormed the stage during the Minutemen speech. This conveniently provided Banderas with an opportunity to show footage and blither about how Columbia provides a forum for world leaders and doesn’t allow ROTC on its campus. Gallagher hoped that students would storm the stage, but expected that they would ask questions about why the Iranian leader wears a windbreaker. Gallagher,, who doesn’t appear to have attended college, said that if he were a parent of a Columbia student, he “would be livid.”

All Fox shows have a basis in right wing ideology, but last night’s (September 22nd) Big Story was probably the most blatant presentation and promotion of a right wing script that I have seen in a long time. “Fair and balanced” discussion of the issue was merely an opportunity for Banderas to present what Fox is trying to communicate to its viewers, i.e. that Ahmadinejad is evil incarnate and Columbia University is just as evil for allowing him to speak at their school.

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla