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Another FOX News Attempt To Smear Live Earth And Al Gore, This Time By Painting Gore As A Terrorist Sympathizer Because Of The Participation Of Cat Stevens

Reported by Ellen - July 8, 2007 -

The Live Earth concerts yesterday were a 24-hour event featuring more than 100 musicians on 7 continents and served as the kickoff for a multi-year campaign to push for action against global warming. But FOX News, in its eternal zeal to smear anything Al Gore related, focused on one musician, Yusuf Islam, known as Cat Stevens before his conversion, as its coverage of the event on Friday night’s (7/6/07) Hannity & Colmes. Substitute host Rich Lowry “asked” whether the inclusion of “alleged terrorist sympathizer” Islam meant that Gore is “befriending the wrong people to push his cause.” With video.

The choice of Richard Schwartz as the sole guest can only be interpreted as a FOX News endorsement for an answer in the affirmative. Schwartz’ bio at FrontPage, where he is a columnist, describes him as “a vociferous critic of Wahabbism.” It just so happens that, according to Schwartz, Wahabbism is the exact branch of Islam that Islam/Stevens joined. How unfair and unbalanced can you get?

Not surprisingly, Schwartz wasted no time trying to connect Islam/Stevens to terrorism. “This is the form of Islam that inspires Al Qaeda,” Schwartz told Lowry.

Lowry and Schwartz both claimed that Islam/Stevens endorsed the fatwa calling for the execution of author Salman Rushdie. It wasn’t until Alan Colmes took his turn, about three and a half minutes later, that viewers learned that Islam/Stevens had done no such thing.

Schwartz laughed as Colmes said that Islam/Stevens specifically stated he had never endorsed it. “Aw, now come on,” Schwartz said. “Why are you defending him?”

“Because what you’re saying is a bunch of hogwash,” Colmes shot back. In fact, Colmes was correct. As he explained in this interview with the BBC and with Rolling Stone, Islam/Stevens said that he was quoting the Koran’s edict of capital punishment for blasphemy, not endorsing it, himself, and that he had issued a statement the next day saying that he did not endorse the fatwa. As he said to Rolling Stone,

“For years after that, I have been viewed as someone capable of saying such words and doing such things, which I never actually said or did! The fact is I have always held strong humanitarian views; I always stood for the elimination of conflict and wars, and any of those causes that ignite them. One only has to view my music and all the charitable efforts I've been involved in since I left the music business and even before that. To quote one of my lyrics, "Why must we go on hating? Why can't we live in bliss?" But it seems some people were intent to damage my character, they tried to trap me and paint me into a box, taking what I said out of context. This was very hurtful.”

“Which is a more dangerous song, Peace Train or Moonshadow?” Colmes quipped.

By the way, I was listening to Live Earth on the internet at work yesterday and, as luck would have it, happened to be tuned in when Islam played Peace Train. I've never liked the song but, thanks to Schwartz and Lowry, I developed a new appreciation for it and turned up the volume.

7/15/07 UPDATE. One of our readers alerted me to this video in which Islam does indeed support the fatwa against Rushdie. However, that does not make him a terrorist (Islam makes no personal threat against Rushdie) nor, more importantly, does that make Gore a terrorist sympathizer. With hundreds of acts involved with Live Earth, it speaks volumes that FOX News, which regularly offers a sympathetic perch for the murder-advocating Ann Coulter, should suddenly seize upon this one act and use it to condemn an entire extravaganza.