The New York Times continued its defense of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero on Friday, when it published a fawning, 1,600-word cover story on how Mayor Michael Bloomberg's support of the Ground Zero mosque stems from his "passion" for Constitutional rights and his own personal brush with anti-Jewish prejudice.
And while Bloomberg was quoted in the story saying he's "not winning a lot of friends" by supporting the mosque, The Times seemed to differ.
The beginning of the article noted that "polls [suggest] that most New Yorkers disagree with [Bloomberg]," but the Times reporter appeared to have a difficult time getting in touch with these residents – the first source who disagreed with Bloomberg's stance on the mosque didn't show up until 1,400 words into the story.
There were, however, a smattering of vague references to Bloomberg critics. "Conservative pundits have mocked him," noted reporter Michael Barbaro, who also quoted a piece of ranting, anonymous correspondence sent to Bloomberg calling for the mayor's impeachment. Later, the article referenced "conservative advocates" and "Newt Gingrich" as opponents to the mosque, without quoting any of them.
However, there was no shortage of cheerleading for Bloomberg in the article.
"Bloomberg is a former Wall Street Mogul with a passion for the rights of a private property owner. He is a Jew whose parents asked their Christian lawyer to buy a house and then sell it back to them to hide their identity in an unwelcoming Massachusetts suburb. And he is a politician who regards his independence as his greatest virtue," wrote Barbaro.
"That potent combination of beliefs and history … has fueled his defense of the proposed Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan," the reporter continued.
The article also dismissed criticisms of the mosque, saying that the "seemingly uncontroversial plan" to build an Islamic prayer center near Ground Zero was "inflamed" by "conservative advocates" who have previously "branded" moderate Muslims as "radical" and "jihadist."
As evidence of this, the reporter compared the Ground Zero mosque controversy to the public outrage against the principal of an Arabic-only New York City public school in 2007.
"The case of the principal, Debbie Almontaser, began, much as the [Islamic center] did, with a seemingly uncontroversial plan – a school that would teach Arabic. Soon enough, though, advocates, inflamed by the proposal, branded Ms. Almontaser a 'radical' and 'jihadist'," wrote Barbaro.
Nevermind that there were legitimate questions raised in 2007 over some of Almontaser's statements and connections, much like there are today about Ground Zero mosque organizer Feisal Abdul Rauf's own comments and associates.
Maybe instead trying to help Bloomberg save his dipping poll numbers, The Times should be looking into the backgrounds of the individuals behind the Ground Zero Islamic center.