CBS News partnered with right-wing pollster Frank Luntz to conduct a focus group of Muslim Americans. The story was sold as a response to Donald Trump, though the focus group focused on wider issues.For CBS, this was a normal, everyday news story that they spun as emphasizing the American in Muslim-American. But now it seems that CBS strategically edited out all of the negative commentary from the focus group participants.
Some are accusing CBS of strategically editing out comments that painted the US in a negative light. According to The Intercept, two people who took part in the focus group said that discussions were removed that dealt with critiques of US militarism, surveillance and entrapment. When the participants began to raise concerns about discriminatory practices in government policies, they were quickly silenced by Luntz. Video of that exchange also didn’t make it into CBS’s final cut.
Luntz evidently asked the attendees what they do when there are attacks like the recent one in San Bernardino. Amelia Noor-Oshiro said that she asked Luntz why he doesn’t ask that to White Americans who commit a majority of the domestic acts of terror. Needless to say, that didn’t make its way into the video as well.
Another attendee in the group was New York City journalist Sarah Harvard who detailed the entire experience on her Facebook page calling it disastrous and saying that she was embarrassed by the video. “Frank Luntz, the moderator, asked us the most demeaning questions like ‘Are you an American or a Muslim first?'” Harvard wrote. “To which I found insulting and shouted back, ‘Well, are you an American or Jewish first?’ … He also decided to stop letting me speak when I started talking about how Muslims should start focusing on combatting government policies rather than rushing to condemn terrorism or Islamophobia exclusively.”
Amusingly enough, Harvard said that CBS also cut the portions of participants discussing media accountability when discussing Islam.
“He kept saying how he felt bad that no one listens to Muslims and how he wanted to give us an opportunity to talk to the general population,” Harvard wrote. Maybe because people like Frank Luntz and CBS News don’t listen to Muslims even when asked to join focus groups. “How can that happen when we’re manipulatively edited to have us fit their own narrative and agenda?” she asked rhetorically.
The final edited video, below, is just under seven minutes long. There is a nine-minute video available on the CBS website, but it also lacks these responses from the participants.