CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, November 19, 2015 – Nothing is more disheartening than hearing people you trust for insight, analysis and political interpretation get it wrong.
It is one thing when those who oppose your views don’t “get it” because they are not supposed to “get it.” But when experts on your own side fail to see the big picture, then there’s no place to turn.
Recently, two of the biggest names in media, Megyn Kelly and Rush Limbaugh, demonstrated just such a lack of awareness that was made all the more stunning by their lack of insight.
First Kelly, the onetime FOX News attorney is one of the top television broadcast anchors in the business. She is bright, hard-hitting and determined to get to the meat of a story. Fail to answer a question? Kelly will chastise her guest for not responding.
That said, during one of her “Breaking News” stories earlier in the week, the FOX anchor demonstrated clearly that she did not know what her guest was talking about.
“Breaking News” on The Kelly File, by the way, occurs at the beginning of every show and following every commercial break. It’s the FOX version of the “little boy who cried wolf” with a new crisis “breaking” throughout the show. It is overly melodramatic, which is nothing more than a ratings ploy that does nothing to enhance the network’s credibility.
In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks last week, Kelly had former Al-Qaeda-operative-turned-CIA-double-agent Morten Storm on her show to provide coverage depth to help explain the recent, tragic incidents that have unfolded and continue to unfold in Paris, France and environs.
Storm is a valuable resource thanks to his former life inside the day-to-day operations of Al-Qaeda. He understands the nuances of Islam that many Western journalists fail to grasp.
While speaking about the methods ISIS uses in its terrorist strategy, Storm held up a copy of the Hadith, the second most important book in Islam. His purpose was to read a passage as written down during the time of the Prophet Muhammad so there would be no confusion among viewers about his source.
“Terrorists wants (sic) to scare. Wants to make people afraid to live their normal life so what they do is to terrorize them mentally so they are afraid to go outside,” replied Storm.
Then he added, “You know Prophet Muhammad said in Sahih al-Bukhari, the Hadith, he said….”
At this point, Kelly interrupted Storm to clarify by saying, “In the Koran.”
Storm corrected her, “No this is the Hadith. This is the sayings of Muhammad which 99% of all Sunni Muslims follow.”
So what’s the big deal? It matters because Kelly apparently did not know about the Hadith, which is second only to the Koran in the teachings of Muhammad and Islam. Realizing the importance of the Hadith to the religion is Islam 101. A journalist of Kelly’s stature should know that.
Later in the same interview, Storm again read from the Hadith, “It says that it is permissible if it serves the cause to kill women, children and babies.”
To which Kelly asked incredulously, “Is this radical Islam?”
For the second time in less than a minute, the FOX anchor demonstrated her ignorance by asking about “radical Islam.”
What Storm was saying, reiterating what other experts have been telling us for decades, is that there is no such thing as “radical Islam” because Islam IS by definition “radical.”
Here again, Kelly’s lack of awareness regarding basic Islam resulted in her overwhelmingly shallow line of questioning, given her prominence. She is a highly paid, extremely visible spokesperson for FOX News. Millions of people rely on her for skilled, expert analysis. Yet she had no clue about the Hadith and then dug a deeper hole by questioning an acknowledged expert about “radical Islam.”
Later in the week, Rush Limbaugh, who has millions of radio listeners across the nation Monday through Friday, spent a considerable amount of radio air time discussing the events in Paris while blasting the administration for its cowardly approach to global terror.
For political insight and understanding the gamesmanship of modern American government, there is nobody better at simplifying the complex than Limbaugh. He has an innate ability to read between the lines to such a degree that, over the past three decades, he has educated the American people who tune into his show, providing his audience with a greater comprehension of the inner workings of government than just about anyone.
On the other hand, with increased celebrity, Limbaugh frequently devotes large portions amounts of his broadcast time to making sure his listeners also know how much he knows about cigars, the NFL, Mannheim Steamroller, aviation, Apple, golf and which VIPs he has dined with recently. In addition, though he claims that he hates to talk about himself, Limbaugh tirelessly promotes his iced tea, his children’s history books and his current health issues all while telling us he is a “harmless little fuzz-ball” and pretending he is not among the elite 1% of the 1% in annual earnings.
That is why it was so discouraging when Limbaugh went into one of his repetitive monologues about the inner workings of ISIS. While mocking the Islamic State in his usual satirical manner, Limbaugh was attempting to make the point that the “drive-by media,” as he calls the so-called “mainstream media” (MSM), was making an all-out effort to legitimize ISIS by showing how “normally” they function.
It was during this commentary that Limbaugh stated incredulously “they even have a magazine!”
The ISIS online magazine called Dabiq has been around for a considerable amount of time. It is not so much the fact that the Islamic State has a magazine as it is that Limbaugh is just now realizing that it exists at all.
Dabiq is a slick, glossy, well written (in terms of English usage) and professionally photographed publication. It is a primer on all things related to ISIS and to the global terror movement. That Limbaugh was not aware of this is disconcerting, given that he provides intricate details and information to listeners daily on a multitude of subjects.
If Limbaugh is right 99.8% of the time, as he so often tells listeners, this was part of the .02% he missed, and it is no insignificant oversight.
It is understandable that an individual simply cannot know everything there is to know about anything. On the other hand, if you are going to make tons of money while presenting yourself as an “authority,” it is important, at the very least, to know the basics.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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