CNN launched an attack on President Donald Trump’s pick for United Nations ambassador, Heather Nauert, that inadvertently turned the microscope on itself.
Nauert, a former Fox News host, was nominated for the UN post vacated by Nikki Haley in December. Since then, news outlets have raised questions about her qualifications for office and her time working for Fox. In a story published Monday, CNN claimed that Nauert’s confirmation process could be complicated because she hosted a “panel on Sharia law conspiracies” on the network in 2009.
The panel was on a webcast called “Terror from Within” and featured anti-jihad activists Frank Gaffney and Robert Spencer, and Canadian journalist and Muslim critic Tarek Fatah. (RELATED: Trump Says ‘Fake News’ CNN Is Better Than Fox News At This One Thing)
State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino told CNN in a statement that interviewing guests “does not mean the moderator agrees with the views expressed” and added that CNN itself has interviewed those same people.
A review of interviews on CNN reveals that they have, in fact, interviewed Gaffney, Spencer and Fateh on multiple occasions. CNN’s most recent interview with Spencer occurred in 2015 — six years after Nauert interviewed him for the webcast.
During a June 2015 interview, Spencer clashed with the CNN hosts after he accused the media of kowtowing to radical violent Islamists and argued that Muslims in Boston weren’t doing a good enough job of countering extremists in their faith. (RELATED: Support For Al Qaeda Terrorists Was Preached At New England’s Largest Mosque)
Gaffney appeared on CNN for an interview as recently as 2013 about U.S. relations with the Iranian regime. He was also interviewed on Syria in 2012 and debated American Conservative Union board member Suhail Khan in 2011.
During the debate, Gaffney accused Khan of having secret ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and infiltrating the conservative movement in order to promote Sharia law. He was later banned from CPAC for promoting such conspiracies.
CNN gave Nauert credit for “ask[ing] clarifying questions and push[ing] her guests to specify that not all Muslims support extremism or Sharia law,” a similar rhetorical move used by CNN anchors in their interviews with Spencer. However, CNN claimed that Nauert was not tough enough on her guests, stating that she did not attack the “broader theme” of their comments.
CNN did not respond to a request for comment.