Chuck Todd: Where Are the ‘Moderate Muslims’ Talking Down the Radicals?

On Friday’s broadcast of Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” previewed an upcoming segment on his Sunday broadcast discussing the recent events surrounding the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris last weeks.

That segment will feature a discussion Islam and its radical elements, to which Todd questioned why there seems to be a lack of moderate elements of the religion talking down the more radical elements.

Partial transcript as follows (courtesy of The Hugh Hewitt Show):

HEWITT: So how are you going to handle this, Chuck Todd? The president of France says these fanatics have nothing to do with the Muslim religion. The president of Egypt says it’s got everything to do with our religion, and it’s being hijacked, and Lindsey Graham calls is a religious war. How do you even cover this?

TODD: Well, it’s funny, I’ll tell you what I’m doing, is I’ve got two Muslims coming on the show, one who is going to make an argument that there is a dangerous strain of Islam that is catching on, and we have to acknowledge. You know, there is a debate that’s going on, that is there a dangerous strain, basically the [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-] Sisi argument? Or is this just a perversion, and it’s not sort of something the Muslim community has to worry about, because really, these are just wackos that are perverting Islam? And look, this is a debate that is active that is taking place, so that’s how I’m going to…

HEWITT: Are they going to be on at the same time?

TODD: Pardon me?

HEWITT: Are they going to be on at the same time?

TODD: Yes, they’re going to be on at the same time.

HEWITT: Now you see, that is exactly what needs to happen. And I read The Looming Tower years ago, and Lawrence Wright’s the best guy to go to on this. And I think it’s a strain. And I don’t know what the percentage is, but it’s not single digits that are sympathetic to the Takfiri jihadist strain, Chuck Todd.

TODD: Hey, and Hugh, who was the, and I mean, here’s the thing. And one of the things that I think of just as a citizen is where are these moderate Muslims that can talk these folks down? Where are these Muslim leaders? And that’s the problem. There’s no leadership in the Muslim, in the mainstream Muslim community that seems to be able to want to own this. That’s almost, they act out of fear. Well, they don’t want to become targets.

HEWITT: I think that’s it. I think a lot of this is fear. Lawrence O’Donnell admitted to that on this show six years ago.

TODD: Yeah.

HEWITT: …that you don’t go out of your way to antagonize them, which brings me to the media story of the day. I’m actually shocked by this. Dean Baquet, who’s the executive editor of the New York Times, sent an email, or actually a Facebook posting to a USC Annenberg School professor by the name of Marc Cooper. He’s kind of a rad. I’ve known Marc forever. And Cooper was bagging on Baquet for not publishing the cartoons, and so Baquet wrote him a Facebook. Dear Marc, I appreciate the self-righteous second-guessing without even considering there might be another point of view. I hope your students are more open-minded. A**hole. Are you surprised by that?

TODD: Yes, I am. Look, I think it is. Look, I thought David Brooks today had a fascinating sort of, I know you, I thought he got to more of the nuance position. And I think there’s nothing wrong with mainstream news organizations saying you know what? We’re not going to go out of our way to antagonize. That doesn’t mean we don’t support freedom of expression if there are satirical groups that want to antagonize. That’s the nature. This is what living in a free society is about. And as I say, I’m surprised that a leader of a major publication would get that snarky in sort of a public forum like that, because again, as he himself said, there are two sides to this argument, but you know, there’s a way to debate without being self-righteous on either side of the argument.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor