Media Becomes Ground Zero for Mosque Debate

Tabloid, cable coverage fueling divisive issue

Last Updated: August 17, 2010 @ 3:03 PM

The planned mosque near Ground Zero is generating a lot of media coverage — and not just from entrepreneurial late night Fox News hosts with designs on opening gay Muslim discos.

On Monday, the New York Post published an exploitive, misleading headline on its cover:

HAMAS
BIG
BACKS
MOSQUE

That Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder and chief of the terror group, would want a mosque built close to the World Trade Center site is not surprising – and irrelevant — but it’s sure to fuel those who oppose it.

By Tuesday, coverage of the mosque seemed to be overshadowing the debate itself. Howard Kurtz called it “one of the most divisive issues in American politics today” and a “colossal waste of time” – despite devoting 2,171 of his 2,227-words “Media Notes” column to it.

What’s more, cable news networks have consistently referred to the proposed Islamic community center as the “Ground Zero mosque,” despite the fact that, as Michael Calderone noted, there is no mosque being built on Ground Zero. Park51, the proposed mosque, is two-and-a-half blocks away.

Keith Olbermann used his "Special Comment" on Monday's "Countdown" to point out the same thing.

Meanwhile, as the Village Voice pointed out, there are plenty of things near Ground Zero that some people might find more offensive, including:

·  "Ground Zero Burger King."
·  Memorial that's never happened because of hyper-capitalist conflicts.
·  Bunch of tacky souvenir tables.
·  Bunch of tacky souvenir tables that profit off of cheap, China-made 9-11 memorabilia.
·  Bunch of tacky souvenir tables that profit off of cheap, China-made 9-11 memorabilia when they're not selling fake Rolexes to the same Americans coming to New York, buying from them, going home, and telling New Yorkers where to put our mosques.

Jon Stewart weighed in on "The Daily Show," too: "Freedom of relion says nothing about 'where.' Who knew the First Amendment had the same slogan as Century 21: Location, location, location?"