Anderson Cooper closed one of five segments of his weeknight CNN show that he recently devoted to attacking principally Rep. Michele Bachmann with a genuflection toward an iconic newsman, Edward R. Murrow. He deployed against her the gauntlet Murrow threw down to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in March 1954: “The line between investigating and persecuting is a [very] fine one.” If anyone has stepped over that line, however, it is Mr. Cooper himself, rather than the Minnesota congresswoman.
Night after night during the week of July 16, the host of “Anderson Cooper 360” failed to meet even the most basic standards of investigative journalism. The irony is that, in his ill-concealed persecution of Mrs. Bachmann, Mr. Cooper has serially engaged in precisely the practices he pillories her and others for using, by his account, to destroy the reputation of a Muslim-American woman named Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Let us count the ways:
*Mr. Cooper insists that Mrs. Bachmann failed to do her homework. He singles her out for most of his criticism, despite the fact that she was but one of five members of Congress to raise concerns not only about Ms. Abedin’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, but those of a number of others the Obama administration has enlisted as officials, advisers and liaisons to “the Muslim community.” Yet, Mr. Cooper repeatedly showed his ignorance of the extensive evidence cited by the legislators, even as he mentioned the website where some of it resides: the Center for Security Policy’s online video course at MuslimBrotherhoodInAmerica.com.
*As he accused Mrs. Bachmann of playing fast and loose with the facts, Mr. Cooper repeatedly mischaracterized the nature of the legislators’ request for five federal inspectors general to conduct investigations. He or his echo chamber of exclusively like-minded guests complained that Ms. Abedin is accused of being a “spy” and engaging in “treason” and that she has been subjected to a groundless, bigoted and McCarthyite witch hunt. Several of the reporters and interested parties who added color commentary (sometimes repeatedly) further demeaned Mrs. Bachmann by asserting that she is simply engaging in partisan politics and fundraising for her re-election campaign.
*As with the lawmaker and to a lesser extent her colleagues, Mr. Cooper also made a point of going after this columnist. If anyone is guilty of “McCarthyism,” though, it is the journalistic poseur who specializes in shooting the messenger and buying into and tendentiously proclaiming that there are “no facts” supporting the unwanted message — rather than rigorously examining and accurately reporting on the vast amount of evidence that inconveniently does exist.
*While portraying Ms. Abedin as an innocent victim of smears, Mr. Cooper engaged in his own smearing — occasionally through his rants on the subject, often by citing others who have indulged in ad hominem attacks against the legislator and her team. He repeatedly showcased such attacks by individuals in her own party, even though they were clearly unfamiliar with the actual nature of the legislators’ concerns and the abundant grounds for raising them.
*One of the prominent figures in this televised persecution of Mrs. Bachmann was the man who kicked it off — her colleague, Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim member of Congress. As it happens, according to the public record (recently brilliantly distilled by counterterrorism expert Patrick Poole at PJ Media), Mr. Ellison has himself been closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood — a knotty problem Mrs. Bachmann has noted, to Mr. Cooper’s horror.
Accordingly, the “360” host had Mr. Ellison on to help deflect that charge. When the congressman blithely denied that he was a Muslim Brother or, for that matter, that he even knew very much about the Brotherhood, that was good enough for crack investigative journalist Anderson Cooper. Back to the persecution of Mrs. Bachmann, with Mr. Cooper egging on Minnesota’s Muslim congressman.
*Mr. Cooper further discredited his claim to be an independent, let alone exacting, journalist by taking at face value the FBI’s assurances that it had not dealt with Muslim Brothers or other “extremists” in the recent purge of its training materials and files. The evidence of that falsehood is readily available. Yet, the FBI statement was presented as gospel by a credulous host whose only skepticism was reserved for why Mrs. Bachmann had been charged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers with investigating the extent of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence operations inside the bureau.
*Perhaps most distressing was the service Mr. Cooper has provided to the Islamists by promoting the meme that inquiries about specific Muslims with demonstrable ties to the Muslim Brotherhood amount to attacks on all Muslims. This plays into the victimhood mantra Islamists use to justify their jihadism undertaken ostensibly for the purpose of defending beleaguered co-religionists.
Applying Mr. Cooper’s logic, every Muslim is to be given an automatic pass — even those whose associations with an organization such as the Brotherhood that is sworn to our destruction. Such deference would clearly violate the government’s own guidelines for security clearances, to say nothing of the oath of office to support the Constitution and defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic. That may also be the view of the Obama administration, but it is a formula for disaster for the country.
There is a particular irony to Mr. Cooper’s campaign against those who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood. For an avowedly homosexual man, Anderson Cooper is rooting for the wrong team. If the Islamists have their way here, he will not simply be on the wrong side of the line. He’ll be toast.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program “Secure Freedom Radio,” heard in Washington weeknights at 9 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.