BLITZER: Ever since its debut three years ago, the Fox television show “24” has been a big hit. This year is no exception. But not everybody is happy with the new season because of those who are portrayed as terrorists.
CNN’s Brian Todd joining us now with the latest on the fallout — Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, “24” has depicted terrorists from several different ethnic groups, but one of those group has growing political muscle in this country. And it appears they just flexed it.
TODD (voice-over): The intrepid Jack Bauer, counterterror agent, central character of “24,” Fox’s monster hit where one harrowing day unfolds over the course of a whole season, one thrilling hour each week. This season,
some viewers less thrilled than others.
RABIAH AHMED, CAIR: The main concern about “24” is its portrayal of
American Muslims as terrorists. What’s uniquely disturbing about this
season is the family as a sleeper terror cell.
TODD: Including a father willing to kill his wife and son for compromising
the mission. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “24”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I give you my word, my wife and son will be dead by the
end of this day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: The Council on American-Islamic Relations took one look at this plot
and pressed Fox executives and show producers for a meeting. Then last
week, out came this public service announcement during the regular airing
of “24” featuring star Kiefer Sutherland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIEFER SUTHERLAND, ACTOR: It’s important to recognize that the
American-Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in
denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: The PSA aired once and only once. Neither Fox, nor the producers of
“24” would comment for this story. “24,” now in its fourth season, has
portrayed Eastern Europeans, as well as black and white Americans, as
AHMED: Those portrayals in the past seasons have been very generic and
murky. American Muslims are in a unique situation. They are the community
that is facing a backlash post-9/11.
TODD: CAIR insists it was not trying to curb Fox’s creative license and
denies that it even applied pressure to the network to change the
storyline. CAIR said that Fox did not show them the script, but promised
that the portrayal of Muslims would balance out. Observers say it speaks to
the growing concern of the Muslim constituency in America.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: If you don’t speak up, nobody
will pay any attention to you. Muslims discovered that rule very quickly
and they’re speaking up and people are paying attention