CNN’s Brian Stelter interviewed extremist cleric Anjam Choudary on his Reliable Sources show Sunday. Despite an attempt to compare his interview tactics favorably to a one the previous week by Sean Hannity, Stelter wound up stunned by his guest’s extremism.
The Hannity interview ended with the host calling his guest “one sick, miserable, evil SOB.” To be fair, that came after Choudary called Hannity a liar, propagandist and stated that Americans were “the biggest criminals in the world today.” Anyone familiar with Hannity’s patriotism can probably guess which statement offended him more.
Stelter seemed to see a chance to one-up Hannity, so before his interview ran, he promised a more substantive conversation than the Fox interview.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 31, 2014
As it turned out, Stelter’s interview went a long way to confirming Hannity’s assessment of Choudary and even Stelter seemed to agree. During the interview, Choudary refused to condemn the brutal actions of ISIS or acknowledge the lack of press freedom under Sharia law. Choudary even refused to admit there was any such thing as “radical” Islam telling Stelter, “There is no such thing as a radical or moderate form of Islam” and comparing Islam to being pregnant (you are or you aren’t). Choudary also suggested those who disagree with him may be being paid to do so by their governments (A suggestion which almost made Stelter lose his cool).
Despite all of Choudary’s obvious extremism, Stelter still felt the need to ask why his guest would appear on Sean Hannity’s show. “I’ve been trying here to have you answer in full sentences, full statements,” Stelter said adding, “But I wonder why you agree to go on shows like Sean Hannity’s…why do you agree to go on a show like that?”
But as much he tried to place his interview in a different category, Stelter wound up expressing nearly the same indignation Hannity had toward his guest. At the very end of his interview, Stelter mentioned that during a mic check before the discussion began Choudary had been asked to count to 10, something all guests are asked to do for sound check. Choudary counted to 8 and then added “9/11, 7/7, 3/11” i.e. the dates of infamous terror attacks on western cities.
“Is this all some sort of a joke to do that?” Stelter asked. Choudary replied, “if you had a sense of humor, you would have laughed at that.” Stelter’s stunned response can be seen at the top of this post. It’s not quite as blunt as calling Choudary a sick, miserable, evil SOB but it’s probably close enough for government work.