The Texas State Board of Education debate over social studies curriculum standards last spring drew unprecedented coverage from the national media, most of it reasonably balanced. The exception was coverage from Fox News, including commentator Tucker Carlson. Carlson and his Fox colleagues made so many false and misleading statements on-air about the debate that we lost count. Even the Texas Education Agency issued a press release sharply criticizing Fox’s distorted coverage. The coverage was so biased that Fox aired a photograph of Kathy Miller — Texas Freedom Network’s president — and two other critics of the state board under the heading “Textbook Troublemakers.” Fair and balanced? What a joke.
Among the most absurd charges aired on Fox was that “multicultural groups” were distorting public school curricula around the country by undermining Christianity and promoting Islam instead. Well, Carlson is at it again.
The latest Fox diatribe started with Fox & Friends show host Clayton Morris. According to Fox monitor News Hounds, Morris cited an unnamed former Texas State Board of Education member who supposedly claims “there’s increasing evidence that textbooks are biased against American culture, especially in matters of religion where the Islamic faith receives praise and the Christian faith is attacked.” Moving quickly from this unsupported, absurd assertion, Morris asked Carlson if this “support of Islam over Christianity is pretty overt.” Tucker promptly agreed, citing quotes from two anti-Muslim organizations that have no credibility among respected religious or academic scholars.
Look. The notion that a major publisher would sacrifice its reputation and revenue by writing religiously or ideologically biased textbooks — particularly textbooks with an anti-Christian bias — defies all reason. Can these critics identify a school district in the United States — much less, one in Texas — that would buy such textbooks? Of course not.
The spike in rhetorical and political attacks on Islam and the religious freedom of Muslim Americans is ugly and alarming. Moreover, the common story lines and talking points in these attacks suggest there is coordination of some kind going on. As a national network, Fox clearly is playing a role in disseminating some of the misinformation. In any case, warning signs are flashing about the threat to religious freedom in America today. One hopes responsible leaders aren’t too blind to see them.