A March 27 article by CNN.com religion editor Dan Gilgoff is slanted journalism at its worst. Beyond the usual downplaying of radical Islam and tugging on heartstrings, it lies by omission, withholding vital data about a mosque incident to advance the narrative of Muslim victimhood.
Titled "In key American Muslim enclave, alienation is growing," the piece explores how Detroit-area Muslims are "feeling ostracized" because of the recent radicalization hearing, efforts to ban Shari'a law in courts, and so on. Arguing that Muslims are "under attack," Gilgoff highlights the case of Roger Stockham, a Californian who drove to Michigan, allegedly boasted of plans to bomb a mosque, and was arrested on January 24 outside Dearborn's Islamic Center of America (ICA) with fireworks in his car. Gilgoff lets a mosque leader explain the purported lesson:
To [ICA executive administrator Kassem] Allie, the incident is evidence that some Americans are being radicalized against Islam, turning the allegation of growing Muslim radicalization on its head.
"The suspect was apparently radicalized quite some time ago," Allie said. "And there are other instances of radicalization that are of great concern to us.
"I have no problem addressing Islamic radicalization," he said, monitoring the mosque's security cameras from a computer screen in his ground-floor office. "But there should be an acknowledgment that other communities have the same problem."
However, in his desire to portray this as a clear-cut example of violent "Islamophobia" in action, Gilgoff never bothers to tell readers about credible evidence that Stockham himself is Muslim.
Back on January 31, the AP described the arrestee as "a Vietnam veteran-turned Muslim holy warrior" based on what he had said to a Detroit restaurant manager, who later testified that in addition to bragging about the plot, Stockham had told him about becoming Muslim and joining the "mujahedeen." Stockham's own attorney also called his client an "Islamic convert." Behaving like a radical Sunni, the defendant rejected his first lawyer because "he is a Shiite and I am not," asserting that the man attends the Shiite-run ICA. The same news item cites sources claiming that Stockham spoke fluent Arabic and quoted from the Koran during an interview.
Many jumped to conclusions about Stockham before all the information was in, but it had been in for almost two months on March 27, when Gilgoff's article appeared. Yet he mentions none of it, depicting this as a case of "Islamophobia," even as data suggest Islamic sectarian violence.
Two weeks have passed and the piece has done great harm, but news consumers still can make their voices heard. Islamist Watch encourages readers to contact CNN and demand an explicit correction, if not more, using this link (for the web address of error, input "http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/27/in-key-american-muslim-enclave-alienation-is-growing/"). Tell CNN that Dan Gilgoff is entitled to his own opinion — but not his own facts.
April 10, 2011, Update: Newsbusters picks up this story.