The Murdoch mafiosi encamped in the Baby Shard bunker may not be spitting bigotry at London’s new Mayor Sadiq Khan, but that does not mean he has been forgotten by Don Rupioni and his henchmen - far from it. Nor does it mean, merely because the present incarnation of Sky News is giving him a fair hearing, that Khan will still find Sky a benign presence if 21st Century Fox gets its hands on 100% of the company.
All those thinking that Sadiq Khan is not going to find himself on the receiving end of yet more of the Islamophobic hate speech that the Tories and their media pals threw at him during last year’s election campaign have been looking the wrong way. Because Rupert Murdoch has now taken personal charge of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). And Fox News is now in non-stop attack mode against Khan.
On Tuesday this week, a Fox News Insider post told “In the wake of the deadly terror attack in London, President Donald Trump's war of words with London Mayor Sadiq Khan continues … On Sunday, Trump criticized Khan for telling citizens there is ‘no reason to be alarmed’ amid increased police presence following the attack that left seven dead and dozens more injured”. That’s not quite what Khan said.
And that was at the mild end of the spectrum: earlier, another Fox News Insider post ranted “Army Ranger Blasts London Mayor For Refusing to Mention 'Radical Islam’”. What? “Retired U.S. Army Ranger Sean Parnell said London Mayor Sadiq Khan is continuing to be irresponsible by not mentioning ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ … ‘This is a guy who said terrorist attacks are part and parcel with living in a big city’ Parnell said of Khan”.
And another one taken out of context. But do go on. “Parnell said there are more than 20,000 people in Britain who sympathize with jihadism, but that Khan continues to ask for discourse … ‘We are well beyond the point of a conversation with the Muslim community. This is a counterinsurgency right now’ Parnell said”.
Sean Parnell is another who can be described as a “Conservative commentator”, which sort of goes with the territory at Fox News. He deliberately smears Sadiq Khan and hints at some form of collective punishment on all Muslims. And he is not alone: as Mediaite has reported, morning show Fox And Friends had Mark Steyn, another far-right rant merchant, on the sofa last Monday to rail at the London Mayor.
“Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, used this weasel phrase on yesterday, saying ‘you don’t need to be alarmed,’ he said this is one of the safest world cities on the planet … And by world cities, he means places like New York, London or Paris that have become big, multicultural centres … where there all whole areas where you don’t know what’s going on, people are running mosques, people are part of networks”. More brainless hate speech.
Host Brian Kilmeade then egged Steyn on: “as a Muslim mayor, I would have loved to have seen him speak up and tell us the difference between what he thinks and what they think … That would have gone a long way”. And there was more.
On The Five, another in the long line of Fox News shows occupying the “Comment” part of the schedule, rather than the alleged straight news area, host Jesse Watters said this of Khan: “Sadiq Khan made history last year when he became the first Muslim elected mayor of London. But President [Donald] Trump made it known on Twitter that he wasn't too impressed with the mayor's response to Saturday's terror attack in the British capitol. Khan doesn't appear to be enamoured with Mr. Trump, either” (h/t Media Matters for America).
And then he went in with the smearing iron: “the London mayor says he doesn't want to roll out the red carpet for President Trump, but some could argue he's been really rolling a red carpet out for a lot of these Muslim extremists who have just come in and out of the country willy-nilly”. Spot the false equivalence.
Sadiq Khan does not get to say who comes in and out of the country. Nor does he get to say who comes in and out of London. So he hasn’t been rolling out a red carpet for anyone. But good to know what Sky News will look like if the Murdochs take full control.
The “Lines To Take” on Fox News opinion shows come right from the top. They used to come from Roger Ailes, who has been replaced by Rupert Murdoch. So when it comes to figuring out who has sanctioned the smear of Sadiq Khan … I’’ll just leave that one there.