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Outrage or Farce: NBC News Names Ground Zero Mosque Developer ‘Person of the Year’

Of all the people in all the world, NBC chooses to honor the provocateur behind one of the most controversial projects in America. On Thanksgiving.

by
Bryan Preston

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November 24, 2010 - 5:22 am
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This morning I spent a few minutes on the Pat Campbell Show in Tulsa, discussing the outrageous decision by the Park51 group — the group that’s developing the Ground Zero Mosque — to apply for $5 million in taxpayer funds to continue development of that monument. That has certainly reignited the debate over the mosque project itself, which is a $100 million effort that so far has a whopping $20,000 banked.

Well, guess what?  Park51 is about to get a nationally televised infomercial during the holiday.  If you watch NBC’s Today Show on Thanksgiving morning, you’re likely to see host Matt Lauer interview Sharif El-Gamal.  Gamal is Park51′s lead developer and front man.

He’s been named one of NBC’s “People of the Year.”

Seriously. This not an Onion headline.  And yes, the interview is real.  NBC has posted an excerpt prior to broadcast:

In an interview set to air on Thanksgiving Day, Matt Lauer sat down with El-Gamal and discussed the “Park 51 Project.”  El-Gamal, who was apparently pleased to be named one of NBC’s people of the year, seemed very comfortable answering questions.  The excerpt released so far shows that Mr. Lauer gave El-Gamal a decidedly softball interview.  Here is a partial transcript of El-Gamal’s opening statements:

“There’s going to be a facility here that’s going to provide aquatics, uh, uh, uh, a gym, just like a Jewish community center or, or a YMCA.  It’s going to provide, uh, much needed facilities to the residents of Lower Manhattan.”

Lauer responds that there is “one major exception” to El-Gamal’s statement, describing the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  However, El-Gamal’s quickly responded:

“Not once have I held my faith accountable for the horrific events of 9/11.  I am an American.  I am an American who has a specific belief system, and my belief system, in order to be a Muslim you have to be a good Jew and a good Christian.”

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