Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boston Bombing: Media Continues To Attack the Right

I am back to civilization, a computer, and a functioning internet link for another shot at drive-by blogging, and of course the main story continues to be the bombing in Boston and the still-unfolding aftermath. 

By now, any number of interesting details have been covered elsewhere, but the purpose of this post is to collate some ideas about the response of the MSM, beyond how spectacularly wrong the initial coverage was of the incident.

Among those of us more inured to such tragedies, it has become a learned response to simply turn off the sound on the TV, or turn to other stories on the internet, until the craziness of the first hours (or days) begins to settle down from the rampant speculation, mostly pulled out of thin air, that the 24-hour news outlets are compelled to keep up in the competitive 'all bombing, all the time' feeding frenzy.  (This is before it settles into its natural follow-on state, which I call the 'Princess Diana is still dead' coverage.)

Let me say first how impressive it was after the first few days that the investigation developed a picture of the two bombers in such a short time, aided by the large number of snapshots by the bystanders.  Narrowing down the perpetrators amongst such a large and confusing amount of data in so short a time is truly commendable. 

But as to the coverage up to that time, besides the staggering amount of sheer speculation spilled into the news-hungry population, it again proves the maxim that the MSM automatically chose to set their opinions on only one side of the ledger, again hinting, commenting – hoping – that this time the attackers were going to be on the extreme right, or in their minds just the right in general, with Tim McVeigh lumped in with grandmotherly matrons in period costume passing out refreshments at Tea Party rallies. 

Even the Aussies want in on the act (Sydney Morning Herald)

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times led off with a tweet that the Republicans were somehow responsible for the lack of an ATF director (in Kristof's mind the Republicans are responsible for the Sequester, which he leaps to remind us), thus the explosion.  He later withdrew the comment after he tweeted about "people jumping on me" for the absurdity, but it was an excellent example of the Left's knee-jerk response.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews then weighed in to inform us that "as a category, normally, domestic terrorists tend to be on the far right", after CNN analyst Peter Bergen was reminded of Oklahoma City and spoke of al Qaeda making hydrogen peroxide explosives.  He included "some other kind of right-wing extremist" as using conventional explosives, like the "right-wing groups trying to attack the Martin Luther King parade in Oregon in 2010."

[The actual reference should be to acetone peroxide (TATP or TCAP), capable of being created outside of a laboratory but difficult to store or handle.  As for the attack in "Oregon", that involved a crude explosive device, a mechanism more intimidating than dangerous, found in a backpack in Spokane, Washington in 2011.  The single suspect in the case was a self-described psychopath, rejected even by supremacist groups.  Bergen's 'expertise' was wrong on all counts.]

Luke Russert (son of the late Tim) of NBC speculated on a Patriot's Day link to the attack against the Branch Davidians near Waco in 1993. 

Charles Pierce of Esquire warned us not to leap to a conclusion about foreign terrorism, but did want to remind us of the date of Patriots Day being significant to Tim McVeigh, who "fancied himself as a waterer of the tree of liberty and the like."  Pierce couldn't resist telling Rachel Maddow on MSNBC about the "terrific" week for Governor Deval Patrick (terrific? really?) and how we didn't resort to waterboarding or warrantless wiretapping.  In what cockamamie context did that come from, other than a political dig? 

Amina Ismail of McClatchy Newspapers caught Jay Carney off guard during a press conference when she equated the Boston bombings with an Air Force stike in Afghanistan that killed civilians.  Rather than refute her assertion, Carney referred her to the DoD.

Then of course there is David Axelrod, channeling Obama (easy enough for him) by his certainty that the President was pondering the fact that the bombing occurred on tax day. 

And let us not forget David Sirota at Salon and his egregious wish: "Let's hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American."

There is also Dina Temple-Raston of taxpayer-supported NPR who breathlessly reminds us of the "thinking" (whose?) that "this is a domestic, extremist attack and officials are leaning that way largely because of the timing of the attack.  April is a big month for anti-government and right-wing individuals.  There's the Columbine anniversary, there's Hitler's birthday, there's the Oklahoma City bombing, the assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco."  ABC's Pierre Thomas rattled off much the same list on Good Morning America.

Imagine their disappointment when they were proven wrong – again. 

We add these to the example of Brian Ross, egged on by George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, smugly leaping to the conclusion that the shooter in the Aurora theatre was a member of the Tea Party. 

Then there is the widespread blame for the Tucson shooting, including Gabby Giffords, being lain on the doorstep of Sarah Palin, followed by the vast silence when it was later discovered that the shooter was, if anything, left wing in his disturbed rants.

When Faisal Shahzad planted a car bomb in Times Square, Mayor Michael Bloomberg intially blamed it on a "mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda who doesn't like the health-care bill or something."  Many others tried to link it to "some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-goverment far right" (as published in the Nation).

The Department of Homeland Security under Janet Napolitano issued a report in 2009 that warns that returning veterans are terrorist risks, along with those opposed to abortion and illegal immigration, and she stands by that report, though she later conceded that she didn't mean to castigate all veterans, and "some of the language was unfortunate".  Thin gruel.

(Sure, it's photo-shopped, but funny.)

Sources including Mother Jones and Daily Kos commented on the story of Joe Stack crashing his plane into the IRS office building in Austin in 2010, but dropped the push when his rambling suicide note blamed conglomerate companies such as General Motors and Enron, insurance companies, the Catholic church, and George W Bush, then quoted the Communist Manifesto.

Perhaps the most famous foul-up involved repeated predictions by television-showcased academic experts who echoed each other in a morbid mutual admiration society during the three week Beltway Sniper shooting spree in October 2002.  They continued to parrot the prediction that the shooter was an angry white male in his mid-20s to early 30s, driving a white van, right up to the end when two black males, John Allen Muhammed, 41, and John Lee Malvo, 17, jihadi converts, were arrested at a rest stop in a dark blue Chevrolet Caprice.

The media have reached an obscene level of effort in trying to pound round facts into the square hole of their wishful thinking.  They warn the American people against some sort of racist reaction to the thought that this could be (another) attack fomented by Islamic Supremacists, yet gleefully paint with broad brush indeed their perception that the (not quite so) extreme Right is ready to slaughter innocents.  They are quick to suggest white extremists but choke on the word 'Islamic'.  What about the 'root cause' of a religion hijacked by terrorists, and the silence of those who should be trying to wrest it back?

History writes in its book – the one with the copybook headings – and adds two more names of young, Muslim males to the list of jihadis who perpetrate these atrocities, but the press would rather tell of the neighbors and classmates who speak of them as such nice guys, and our security officials still search disabled grandmothers and toddlers at airports.  The press continues to speak of root causes but cannot accept the concept of evil.

But maybe James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal has it right:

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