Heather Nauert—former Fox & Friends host, current spokeswoman for the State Department, and President Trump’s choice to replace Nikki Haley as UN ambassador, once hosted a panel on conspiracy theories regarding Sharia Law in America, as CNN first reported on Monday.
In 2009, Nauert hosted a panel discussion on Fox’s website called “Terror from Within” about the threat of Sharia Law in America. The panel featured prominent Islamophobes Frank Gaffney and Robert Spencer, and the Canadian anti-Islam Muslim Tarek Fatah. The program is still available to watch online.
This is quite a motley crew. Gaffney is a well-known crank who has been around in conspiracy circles for decades. In his time, he’s made claims that include the theory that Saddam Hussein was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing, that Grover Norquist has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency logo is a secret symbol of “official U.S. submission to Islam.” Spencer, meanwhile, has cofounded two anti-Islam organizations that are listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
So, what did these idiots have to say for themselves?
In 2009, Nauert introduced the program as exploring “a school of thought that there is a stealthy jihad taking place within the US. And the theory is that some in our country want to destroy our America from within.”
They would achieve this destruction, she continued, “by using our own legal system against us, by undermining our financial system and even taking away our holidays. The fact that we are a PC, politically correct country, well that will only be used against us.”
The panel was rife with Islamophobic and white supremacist dog whistles. At one point, Gaffney claimed that areas of the U.S. are “no-go zones” that are off limits to the authorities.”
“These are places that we have reason to believe are actively training people to prepare for jihad,” he said.
Later, Fatah said that he believes “almost 100% of the mosques” in the U.S. are led by “those who wish to destroy Western civilization.”
“The American taxpayers should not be funding their own society’s destruction,” he added, referencing the charitable status of mosques in the U.S.
Early on in the segment, Nauert called Gaffney and Spencer’s books on these kinds of bigoted conspiracies “quite impressive.”
State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino gave CNN a statement on the 2009 panel:
“TV anchors host debates with guests who hold different, and at times, controversial opinions. That does not mean the moderator agrees with the views expressed. Incidentally, the very same guests she interviewed have appeared on CNN multiple times. Furthermore, Heather repeatedly made clear that she was not maligning any faith; her segment examined taxpayer dollars that went to both churches and mosques,” Palladino said.
Sure, maybe hosting one panel with wacko conspiracy theorists isn’t enough to claim that someone believes those conspiracies themselves. But this isn’t the only time Nauert has been associated with these beliefs. In a 2013 Fox clip, she mentioned Sharia in a story about a YMCA swim class for Muslim girls that allowed them to wear modest clothes.
“Sharia law is now changing everything,” Nauert said in the clip.