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Saturday, July 30, 2011

“Seeing ‘Islamic Terror’ in Norway” — media critique

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting wrote in a July 25, 2011, Media Advisory “Learning no lessons from Oklahoma City mistakes”
Excerpts by Carolyn Bennett

“Right-wing terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik reportedly killed 76 people in Norway on Friday [July 22], by all accounts driven by far-right anti-immigrant politics and fervent Islamophobia.   However, many early media accounts assumed that the perpetrator of the attacks was Muslim.

“On news of the first round of attacks — the bombs in Oslo — CNN’s Tom Lister (7/22/11) didn’t know who did it, but knew they were Muslims:

‘It could be a whole range of groups but the point is that Al-Qaeda is not so much an organization now. It’s more a spirit for these people. It’s a mobilizing factor.’

“… An early Wall Street Journal editorial (7/22/11) dwelled on the —

‘explanations furnished by jihadist groups to justify their periodic slaughters,’ before concluding that because of Norway’s commitment to tolerance and freedom, ‘Norwegians have now been made to pay a terrible price.’

“Once the alleged perpetrator’s identity did not conform to the Journal’s prejudice, the editorial was modified, but it continued to argue that Al-Qaeda was an inspiration:

‘Coordinated terrorist attacks are an Al-Qaeda signature. But copycats with different agendas are surely capable of duplicating its methods.’

“…It is not new for media to jump to the conclusion that Muslims are responsible for any given terrorist attack; the same thing was widespread after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings (Extra! 7-8/95).

‘It has every single earmark of the Islamic car-bombers of the Middle East,’ syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer (Chicago Tribune, 4/21/95) asserted.

‘Whatever we are doing to destroy Mideast terrorism, the chief terrorist threat against Americans, has not been working,’ wrote New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal (4/21/95).

‘Knowing that the car bomb indicates Middle Eastern terrorists at work, it’s safe to assume that their goal is to promote free-floating fear,’ editorialized the New York Post (4/20/95).

“It is unfortunate that so many outlets have failed to learn any practical lessons from such mistakes — or to question the beliefs that drive them.”

Sources and notes

Media Advisory: “Seeing ‘Islamic Terror’ in Norway — Learning no lessons from Oklahoma City mistakes,” July 25, 2011, http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4359

Listen online or to Pacifica radio stations to CounterSpin (7/29/11-8/4/11)  — “Devin Burghart on Norway terror, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd on Strauss-Kahn case,” http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4369

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is a national media watch group that has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986.

FAIR works to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.

As an anti-censorship organization, FAIR exposes neglected news stories and defends working journalists when they are muzzled.

As a progressive group, FAIR believes that structural reform is ultimately needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting and promote strong non-profit sources of information.

FAIR works with both activists and journalists and maintains a regular dialogue with reporters at news outlets across the country, providing constructive critiques when called for and applauding exceptional, hard-hitting journalism.

FAIR encourages the public to contact media with their concerns, to become media activists rather than passive consumers of news.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting publishes Extra!, the hard-hitting magazine of well-documented media criticism, and produces the weekly radio program CounterSpin, the show that brings you the news behind the headlines. FAIR’s thriving listserv distributes regular Action Alerts to its international network of over 50,000 activists, http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=100

Extra! receives no money from advertisers or corporate underwriters and depends on subscribers for its existence. http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4


Articles also at Bringing Women a Global Voice: http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire Bennett's books available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: www.liftbridgebooks.com [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: http://www.sundancebooks.com/main.html [Geneseo, NY]; The Book Den, Ltd.: BookDenLtd@frontiernet.net [Danville, NY]; Talking Leaves Books-Elmwood: talking.leaves.elmwood@gmail.com [Buffalo, NY]; Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza: http://www.bhny.com/ [Albany, NY]; Mood Makers Books: www.moodmakersbooks.com [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: www.enlightenthedog.org/ [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: http://burlinghambooks.com/ [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: http://www.eabookworm.com/ [East Aurora, NY]; LONGS’ Cards and Books: http://longscardsandbooks.com/ [Penn Yan, NY]

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