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Wednesday, July 31, 2013
MRC's Gainor, Bozell Miss The Point on Reza Aslan
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Dan Gainor makes an attempt to defend's atrocious interview with author Reza Aslan at, of course,

There’s nothing the left likes better than attacking Fox News. Almost all liberal media “analysis” revolves around such activity, without ever noting the outlandishly liberal biases of the traditional outlets that outnumber Fox like the Persians outnumbered the Spartans. Throw in a chance to defend Islam and bash Christians and you get to light up the Internet like a Christmas (or Solstice) tree.

That was the case when Lauren Green, religion correspondent for Fox News (the folks who run this website), interviewed the controversial author of the new book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” In a Fox Live interview Green dared to ask Reza Aslan, a Muslim who converted to Christianity and then back to Islam, the most obvious of questions:

“Now, I want to clarify: You are a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”

Gainor is missing the point. The issue is not that Green asked the question; it's that she spent most of the 9-minute interview re-asking the question, and much of the rest of the time insisting that Aslan respond to criticisms of his book that Green had yet to do any discussion of its contents.

Indeed, as the Washington Post's Erik Wemple points out, Green's line of questioning was a clear sign that she hadn't read the book whose author she was interviewing. Gainor makes no mention of that; instead, he attacks Wemple for daring to criticize Green, adding, "In the liberal media, one dare not ever question the motives of Muslims."

Meanwhile, Gainor's boss, Brent Bozell, managed to get it even less in a Fox News appearance. Like Gainor, Bozell defended Green for asking the question, ignoring that she spent most of the interview obsessing over the issue.

Bozell, however, spent most of the appearance bashing Aslan, bizarrely claiming that Alsan is "not a very good Muslim" if he put scholarship before his religion.

We have to wonder: Does Bozell think Robert Spencer is a "good Christian" because he writes books trashing Islam?

Bozell also complained that Aslan said "he had a history degree in religion. In fact, he doesn't." This appears to be a line of attack taken from the conservative Catholic publication First Things, which splits hairs over the fact that Aslan's Ph.D. is actually in the sociology of religion. As TPM' Josh Marshall writes:

I’m sorry. This is silly. Plenty of ‘historians’ - as in working academic historians - have degrees in sociology. How common that is generally depends on methodological framework you work in. This is especially so in the academic study of ‘religion’ since people study the topic sometimes in History Departments, other times in separate Religion Departments and sometimes in Sociology or Anthropology Departments. And this doesn’t even get to programs of religious instruction where you’re possibly studying theology but might also be studying from a history-based disciplinary focus. I have some sense of these things because I have a history PhD. This is not a ‘lie’ unless you’re really clueless or just hunting for gotchas.

It seems that, like Green, Gainor and Bozell are looking to bash an author of a book they can't be bothered to read.

As Aslan himself pointed out about his Fox interview, it's all about selling a product, and fear sells a product.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:32 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 11:37 PM EDT

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