The individuals and companies that are the subject of this suit broadcast inaccurate and defamatory statements about the Mohameds.
On September 22, 2015, The Blaze aired a show hosted by Glenn Beck with guest Jim Hanson, Executive Vice President of the Center for Security Policy and Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne. On the show, they discussed the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed.
The Arrest of Ahmed Mohamed
During the discussion of the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, Mr. Beck “proposed” the following: “My theory is that for some reason Irving is important to the Islamists, not the Muslims, but the Islamists. It could be as simple as the progressives trying to turn Texas blue, and this is just the place where they’re just going to start planting the seeds and taking a stand. You (Mayor Van Duyne) pissed them off, and now this is a dog whistle. This is not a story that is for anybody to hear, except for the Islamists because once you create a boogeyman, now all the money, all the resources, all the intellectual power, all is focused on your little town of Irving, Texas.” Mr. Beck contended that the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Mohamed could not be “explained” any other way.
Despite the fact that Mr. Beck’s comments were completely unsupported by the facts, Mr. Hanson agreed with Mr. Beck’s contentions, stating “I think it’s happening. I don’t think there’s any question that this latest event was a PR stunt. It was a staged event where someone convinced this kid to bring a device that he didn’t build, as you mentioned. It’s a RadioShack clock that he put in a briefcase, and in a briefcase it looks like a bomb…..They did that to create the exact scenario that played out. They wanted people to react, and they wanted to portray this kid as an innocent victim. I think he was a pawn of potentially his father. His sister actually claimed that she was suspended. His sister told MSNBC that she was suspended by the same school district for making a bomb threat years ago. Don’t know if that’s true yet, but she said that in her own words. So, there’s a vendetta from them, and they’re tied, as you mentioned, with CAIR and CAIR is Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas tied. They’re basically involved in civilization jihad, so I think you’re right.” Ms. Van Duyne participated in this discussion and did not object to or correct any of the comments.
Ms. Van Duyne also stated on numerous occasions that Ahmed was not forthcoming with the school or the police and stated that Ahmed had brought a “hoax bomb” to school. On September 28, 2015, she was quoted in an interview with KDFW as stating that the Mohamed family was “non-responsive” to the City’s request to release records about the incident and that Ahmed was “not forthcoming with information.” These statements are false and were made negligently and/or with malice. Ahmed did not take a “hoax bomb” to school. He never claimed that it was a bomb, threatened anyone or attempted to scare anyone. Ahmed answered all questions about his alarm clock and his intent. The City never made a request to the family for permission to release records.
Misrepresentation on Fox News
On Fox 4 News on or about November 23, 2015, Ben Ferguson misrepresented that “this was a pre-planned idea by his father. I think he used his son. He is one of those, you know, ‘I’m gonna point out anyone that’s against Islam type of guy. I’m going to cause problems.’ They pre-planned this. It looked like a bomb. He also didn’t create a clock. He took a clock apart and he put it in a mini-briefcase to make it look like a bomb. He did not associate and/or talk to any of the teachers or the police when they asked him questions except to say ‘it is a clock.’ He was never afraid.
Ben Shapiro, appearing on Fox News on or about October 19, 2015, stated that it was “clear” that “this was a hoax, this was a setup and that President Obama fell for it because it confirms a couple of his pre-stated biases against police and against people who he perceives to be Islamaphobic.” He goes on to attack President Obama and inaccurately accuses him of “constantly shooting first and asking questions later” when it comes to the “behavior” of the police. He states that “the story didn’t hold water from the beginning. Within the first forty-eight hours it was clear that this was a bit of a set-up and it was clear that the story didn’t hold together.” He is asked by the host, Ms. Kelly, “What’s your theory—that the father had an agenda, that the father had an agenda and used his child to advance it?” Mr. Shapiro responded “absolutely. If you look at the family history, it’s pretty clear that was happening. If you look at the actual clock this kid invented, he took the guts out of an old clock, you can see people do it on Youtube. He literally took the guts out of an old clock, the wiring, and he put it inside of a pencil box and proceeded to bring that into school and this is not the first family incident that has been like this. His sister had an incident in 2009 that was somewhat similar.”
Mr. Shapiro concluded by making fun of both the President and Ahmed saying that Ahmed’s meeting at the White House was a “bit of a downgrade” from what he expected, which was “a star studded event we expected between the President and Ahmed Mohamed where the President was going to knight him, give him the Order of Merit and then declare him the greatest scientist since Isaac Newton.”
It is clear that each of these broadcasters has great contempt for the Mohamed family, without knowing them or even doing any extensive research. The source of the contempt is not clear but it obviously led to strange—and malicious—conclusions that were broadcast without regard to their truth. The Mohameds were labeled as “Islamists” and “terrorists” and began receiving hate messages and death threats. The reality is that the Mohameds were a normal American family who happened to be Muslim. Even the Irving police acknowledged that Ahmed should never have been arrested, that is was a “mistake” and “that thing didn’t even look like a bomb” (direct quotes from the Irving police). With minimal effort, these journalists could have and should have discovered that Ahmed had a long history of making gadgets that he took to school, that it hadn’t been a problem all through middle school, that there was no alarm raised by anyone when they first saw the clock, that Ahmed never represented that he had anything other than an alarm clock and that even the Irving police acknowledged that it had been a mistake to arrest him. Mr. Shapiro could have discovered that Ahmed’s sister did not have a “somewhat similar incident.” Ahmed’s sister wore a hijab to school and was made fun of constantly by other girls. Some of them told a school administrator that his sister had threatened to blow up the school, which was not true. Those same girls physically assaulted Ahmed’s sister on the way home from school.
The broadcasts aired by Fox and the Blaze are the very definition of “yellow journalism.” To broadcast inaccurate, biased and sensationalized falsehoods in the guise of “news” is an offense, not just to the victims of the defamatory statements, but to the public. The public has been misled into believing that the Mohameds are terrorists who plotted to have the Irving police wrongfully arrest a teenage boy for bringing an alarm clock to school. These broadcasts irresponsibly fan the flames of fear and anger toward Muslims and immigrants. Each of these Defendants should be required to retract their falsehoods and broadcast the truth.