Fox Broadcasting Semi-Caves to CAIR
by Daniel Pipes
The Fox Broadcasting Company's new season of the action drama, 24, tells about an Islamist gang engaged in major terrorism in the United States. One component of the enemy infrastructure is a middle-class Muslim family that moved from Iran four years earlier and is living as sleepers, preparing for the fateful day of violence. The Council on American-Islamic Relations protested this representation and I, in an article titled "24 and Hollywood's Discovery of Radical Islam," lauded Fox for its courage to show the threat as it is, concluding with a wish: "hooray for Fox for portraying reality; and may it not cave to the Islamists."
Yesterday we learned that Fox has semi-caved. Yes, the program will go on as planned and apparently unchanged, but as recompense for the sin of pointing to Islamist enemies, Fox will, in Reuters' delicate phrasing, "provide its stations with TV spots that portray Muslims in a favourable way."
These spots are, in fact, none other than CAIR's self-serving public service announcements. (For another such CAIR ad, a print one, see "CAIR Promotes and Hosts William W. Baker, Neo-Nazi.") The Associated Press provides some details on them:
Fortunately, these public service announcements will not be aired nationally by Fox, nor are affiliate stations required to show them; the network is merely making spots available to local television stations without comment, and they then decide whether or not to use these.
Not content with this semi-cave, CAIR has spun the Fox concession to make it appear as greater than it was: WorldNetDaily.com's Art Moore exposes the "exaggerations" in its press release concerning changes in the storyline and showing the PSAs in proximity to 24. Fox spokesman Scott Grogin refused to comment on the former and explicitly denied the latter.
It will be interesting to see how many local affiliates actually do show the CAIR propaganda. I suspect few actually will, in which case the damage done is limited. The real problem is not the spots airing but Fox Broadcasting having recognized CAIR as a legitimate representative of American Muslims – making it yet another in a long list of important national institutions that have repeated this same mistake. (January 14, 2005)
Jan. 18, 2005 update: CAIR is clearly concerned that the local television stations will ignore the availability of its public service announcement and so is stirring its multitudes. An "action alert" went out today asking CAIRites to call
It sounds like a tough sell to me, given the vast absence of "anti-Muslim bias in our society."
Also noteworthy in this alert is CAIR's continuing inaccuracy about Fox having "encouraged local affiliates nationwide to place the PSA as close as possible to the airing" of 24. Art Moore established this is a falsehood and I publicized that fact in this entry, and yet CAIR perseveres in making the claim.
Jan. 20, 2005 update: A reader confirms that there won't be changes in the storyline. How does he know this?
In addition, one can also read more details on the conversations, some of which pertain to CAIR. Here is one: "According to the guy I spoke to, they're not changing the show at all."
Further confirming the unchanged story, the Hartford Courant quotes 24's executive producer, Robert Cochran, saying, "We have a legitimate interest in telling stories that are grounded in reality, at least to a considerable extent grounded in reality," and then calling terrorists acts by extremist Muslim groups "part of the reality we face."
Feb. 7, 2005 update: Fox Broadcasting aired a disclaimer during 24 this evening. The star of the show suddenly appeared after the first block of ads and made the following inarticulate, ungrammatical statement, one that CAIR claims it was consulted about:
Comments: (1) That semi-cave has now become a 3/4s cave.
(2) The Muslim Public Affairs Council is not satisfied with this, however, and dismisses tonight's disclaimer as "feeble" because its message is "far less powerful" than the story line. (But there is one piece of good news in the MPAC press release, namely its confirmation that at the January 13 meeting, Fox executives "rejected the suggestion that they alter the substance of the show.")
(3) MPAC has a point; indeed, there is something pathetic and ineffective about this disclaimer. Imagine if, in the middle of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, an actor comes on stage to announce, "Jews stand firmly with their fellow Venetians to denounce greed." It would be more weird than convincing.
(4) Sutherland's stilted reading of the disclaimer gave the impression he was compelled to do so. In fact, one correspondent compares his performance with that of a hostage in an Iraqi jihad video who grimly makes a public statement while his captor's gun invisibly sticks into his ribs.
April 29, 2005 update: I have to admit having stopped watching 24, so it came as a pleasant surprise to read in the Washington Times today that what appeared to be a 3/4s cave sounds more like a ¼ cave. Here is Christian Toto writing on the subject:
May 27, 2005 update: The season is over and Diana West pans the conclusion of 24 in a column titled "Hollywood knuckles under."
Comment: How sad that a season that began so promisingly ended such a dud. That Hollywood finds it so hard to take notice if the radical Islamic threat symbolizes the blasé liberal attitude that constitutes the greatest obstacle to dealing with that threat.
May 28, 2005 update: Powerlineblog has an entry, "In defense of 24" that offers a three much more upbeat interpretations of the series than Diana West's.
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