On today’s segment of America Live on Fox News, host Megyn Kelly presented a segment (video below) about the developer of the Park51 Islamic community center near ground zero. It was promoted as an expose about the person responsible for the project and suggested that there would shocking new information about its financing. Of course everything Kelly reports appears to be shocking because it is a permanent part of her vocal delivery. She is the human manifestation of Fox’s ever-present “FOX ALERT!” Here is how Kelly introduced the segment (bearing in mind that it is impossible to convey in text the panicky cadence of her voice):
“Five years ago this man was waiting tables in Manhattan! Today he is spending millions – IN CASH – on New York real estate! Including on the building where this mosque will go!”
Kelly then tosses to Charles Leaf of WNYW (the NY Fox affiliate) for the “MUST SEE” report on Sharif El-Gamal. Having been set up as a staggering work of investigative journalism, the viewer is primed for a roller-coaster ride along the tracks of a scandal that saw a one-time waiter become the Muslim Donald Trump. Leaf spins his tale of melodrama and mystery with this prologue:
“Naturally we wanted to meet Sharif El-Gamal. We wanted to know more about the man and his plan. But apparently he didn’t want to meet with us. We made repeated requests for a sit-down interview with him, left him multiple voice messages, and he never returned any of our calls. We even went to his office and talked to some of his colleagues but we were turned away. So we were left with no choice but to go find him.”
Actually, Leaf was left with no choice but to go stalk him. Leaf took a camera crew and followed El-Gamal around asking questions that it was clear he would be getting no answers to. It was as journalistically edifying as Geraldo Rivera’s excursion into Al Capone’s vault.
According to Leaf, El-Gamal left his job as a waiter in 2002 to become a real estate broker and within a year had his own company, Soho Properties. Leaf interviewed an old boss from El-Gamal’s waiting days who was entirely complimentary and impressed with his ambition.
Leaf also interviewed an anonymous source who spoke on camera in shadows and with his voice (hilariously) altered. It was a spooky sequence that cast El-Gamal as potentially dangerous. Leaf never provided any context for this anonymous source or verification of his concerns of retribution. And the only thing we learned from this source was that El-Gamal liked to meet celebrities and go to parties. Quick, someone call the District Attorney.
There was nothing whatsoever in this segment that raised even the slightest suspicion as to El-Gamal’s business dealings. The reporter merely tried to imply that El-Gamel’s desire for privacy was evidence of some impropriety. But in America it isn’t illegal for private individuals to mind their own business. If Leaf had some evidence that something untoward was going on, then I would have no problem with his aggressive tactics. But he had nothing, not even rumor.
What we have here is the story of a man who achieved the American dream. He worked hard as a waiter (and apparently a very popular one) while he sought to improve his life by learning to be a real estate agent. He graduated from that to property owner who received plaudits from his tenants. Eventually he hit the big time buying and selling high income properties in Manhattan.
Isn’t this the reward that America promises to those who strive to excel? Why is El-Gamal being disparaged and smeared by Fox News? Obviously Fox is opposed to this country’s great tradition of opportunity for all. Obviously Megyn Kelly thinks that a successful developer must be a crook if he were at one time a waiter. How could a lowly servant ever become a respected businessman? It doesn’t make sense. He should stay in his class and be grateful for some hotwings and beer. Kelly may not be a waitress, but she is clearly taking orders – from Rupert Murdoch. And Murdoch wants to assure that the message that goes out from Kelly and Fox News is that the rewards of capitalism are only for the elite and well-bred.